But what about “global warming”?
A lack of sunspots could herald in a ‘Space Age record’ for cold temperatures in the the Earth’s upper atmosphere, a scientist has warned.
The mercury could plummet in the thermosphere - a layer of gases around 60 to 180 miles (100 to 300km) above the planet’s surface - as a result of the sun’s inactivity.
Sunspots are not fully understood but they occur over regions of intense magnetic activity as part of the 11 year solar cycle.
Ultra-violet radiation sent out across the cosmos from these sunspots agitates particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing them to heat up.
Sunspots have been absent from the surface of the sun for most of this year, causing the Earth’s upper atmosphere to lose heat energy as a result of the lack of agitation.
However, research has shown these changes high above Earth are unlikely to have much of an impact on weather at the planet’s surface - including climate change.
‘High above Earth’s surface, near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy’, Dr Mlynczak told Dr Tony Phillips as part of an in-depth feature in Space Weather.
‘If current trends continue, it could soon set a Space Age record for cold’, he added.
The data comes from Nasa’s TIMED satellite, which measures changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
It found the thermosphere is currently cooling and shrinking.
They found this out by using the SABER instrument on the TIMED satellite, which monitors infrared emissions from carbon dioxide and nitric oxide.
These two substances play an important role in the overall balance of energy.
To keep track of its movements, researchers led by Dr Mlynczav created the ‘Thermosphere Climate Index’ (TCI).
This number - which is expressed in Watts - shows how many heat trapping molecules like carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are released into space.
‘SABER is currently measuring 33 billion Watts of infrared power from NO [nitric oxide]’, Dr Mlynczak said.
‘That’s 10 times smaller than we see during more active phases of the solar cycle.’
It could set a record in a ‘matter of months’ Dr Mlynczak said.
Solar activity tends to come and go in cycles lasting around 11 years and the star is currently experiencing a continuing period of inactivity - as shown by a lack of sun spots.
The current Solar Minimum is causing dramatic changes in the thermosphere.
The thermosphere always cools off during Solar Minimum as the sun’s ultraviolet output drops sharply.
The effects of solar minimum include Earth’s upper atmosphere cooling and shrinking slightly. This can allow space junk to accumulate in low Earth orbit.
An increase in solar winds can also alter the chemistry of Earth’s upper atmosphere, which may trigger more lightning and aid in cloud formation.
This can also affect air travel, as an uptick means more radiation is able to penetrate planes.
This means passengers on long-haul flights may receive doses of radiation similar to dental X-rays during a single trip, and this puts flight crews in additional danger.
Earlier this year, an eerily still surface of the sun was captured by cameras aboard Nasa 's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite.
Showing a barren orange globe, the remarkable image it produced is the result of a lack of sunspot activity in the star’s magnetic field.
The sun was predicted to reach its ‘solar minimum’ low point in 2019 or 2020, according to Nasa’s calculations.
Now, researchers say sunspots are vanishing faster than expected and the current solar cycle may come to an end sooner than previously thought.
Solar minimum may enhance the effects of space weather, disrupt communications and navigation, and even cause space junk to ‘hang around’, Nasa says.
Lack of sunspot activity in the sun is due to a continuing period of inactivity in the star’s magnetic field.
As the sun moves through its 11-year cycle, it experiences active and quiet periods known as the solar maximum and solar minimum.
As solar minimum approaches, certain types of activity - such as sunspots and solar flares - will drop, but it’s also expected to increase long-lived phenomena.
This includes coronal holes, where fast moving solar winds are created when the star’s magnetic field opens up into space. This happens more regularly as the sun’s magnetic field becomes less active.