Our star is now at "solar maximum," the peak phase of its 11-year activity cycle. But this solar max is weak, and the overall current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, conjures up comparisons to the famously feeble Solar Cycle 14 in the early 1900s...
The strength or weakness of a solar cycle appears to be driven by the intensity of the sun's polar magnetic field during the previous cycle. The polar field is thought to feed the sunspots— dark and relatively cool patches on the sun that are the source of CMEs and solar flares — that come in during the next cycle...
The polar field was weak during Solar Cycle 23, so researchers suspected that Solar Cycle 24 would be underwhelming."
And something I clicked across the other day...;