Physorg carries a NASA story pointing to an abnormal dearth of sunspots.
As of Sept. 27, 2008, the sun had been blank, i.e., had no visible sunspots, on 200 days of the year. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1954, three years before the launch of Sputnik, when the sun was blank 241 times.
People with a keen interest in possible links between the sun and the climate (which is not entirely a subset of people-who-want-you-not-to-worry-about-fossil-fuels — but it’s close) will be getting excited: the most striking evidence for a sun-climate link is that a long period of sunspotless years called the “Maunder minimum” coincided with the Little Ice Age. The estimable Clive Cookson goes over the whole story at the FT
Here, for those who need it, is a pretty good account of current controversies on sun-climate links, and why they are not really that controversial anymore. The sun is not a governing factor in the current climate. The point is actually nicely made by one of Clive’s sources:
Although some people who are sceptical about the human influence on global warming like to emphasise the link between solar variability and climate, Prof Mayewski turns their argument on its head: “The fact that we are not in conditions like the little ice age today shows that the atmosphere is being perturbed by human activities,” he says.
Here are the other posts on the issue from Real Climate for those who want a bit more.
And people who want a great deal more, including some lovely history, might check out Stu Clarke’s “The Sun Kings”
The fact that there are a lot of blank days, by the way, does not mean there are no sunspots at all. The Times of India reports one was spotted last week.