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    Sunspots reaching 1,000-year high

    By Dr David Whitehouse

    A new analysis shows that the Sun is more active now than it has been at anytime in the previous 1,000 years.

    Scientists based at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich used ice cores from Greenland to construct a picture of our star's activity in the past.

    They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth's climate became steadily warmer.

    This trend is being amplified by gases from fossil fuel burning, they argue.

    'Little Ice Age'

    Sunspots have been monitored on the Sun since 1610, shortly after the invention of the telescope. They provide the longest-running direct measurement of our star's activity.

    The variation in sunspot numbers has revealed the Sun's 11-year cycle of activity as well as other, longer-term changes.

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