Sun poised to make history with first spotless month since 1913

Many people that have have an interest in the interaction between the Sun and Earth have been keeping a watchful eye on several metrics of solar activity recently. The most popular of course has been sunspot watching.

The sun has been particularly quiet in the last several months, so quiet in fact that Australia’s space weather agency recently revised their solar cycle 24 forecast, pushing the expected date for a ramping up of cycle 24 sunspots into the future by six months.

On August 31st, at 23:59 UTC, just a little over 24 hours from now, we are very likely to make a bit of history. It looks like we will have gone an entire calendar month without a sunspot. According to data from NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center, the last time that happened was in June of 1913. May of 1913 was also spotless.

With the current space weather activity level of the Sun being near zero, and the SOHO holographic imaging of the far side of the sun showing no developing spots that would come around the edge in the next 24 hours, it seems a safe bet to conclude that August 2008 will be the first spotless month since June 1913.

Here is the sun today,  at 09:14UTC August 30th:

Click for a very large image

Some people who watch the sun regularly might argue that August wasn’t really spotless, because on August 21st, a very tiny plage area looked like it was going to become a countable sunspot. Here is an amateur astronomer’s photo of the event:


August 21st, 2008 spots – Photo: Pavol Rapavy

But according to solar physicist Leif Svalgaard, who regularly frequents this blog:

According to NOAA it was not assigned a number on Aug.21st nor on Aug.22.

So without an official recognition or a number assigned, it should not be counted in August as actual sunspot.

It has also been over a month since a countable sunspot has been observed, the last one being on July 18th. Since then, activity has been flat. Below is a graph of several solar metrics from the amateur radio propagation website dxlc.com for the past two months:


Click image for original source

They have a table of metrics that include sunspots, and their data also points to a spotless August 2008. See it here: http://www.dxlc.com/solar/indices.html

So unless something dramatic happens on the sun in the next 24 hours, it seems a safe bet that August 2008 will be a spotless month.

Update: As commenter Jim Powell points out,

There was a stretch of 42 spotless days from 9/13/1996 to 10/24/1996. Today we have equaled this period. Check out Jan Janssens spotless days page http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Spotless/Spotless.html.

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156 thoughts on “Sun poised to make history with first spotless month since 1913

  1. So, here is the question….

    has the sun affect the global temp. in the last 100 years or has man caused the earth to heat up? Has lower Sun activity caused the earth to not become hotter in the past 10 years during this 100 year period?

    Once the sun becomes more active will the temp. start to increase once again, only to be even hotter due to higher levels of CO2?

    Does the ocean absorb CO2 during cooling? If the CO2 levels are lowered will the earth over cool?

    thanks
    Steve

  2. To me, this is the most fascinating time. When the Sun is blank, it whispers its secrets to those curious enough to wait, watch, and listen. When its noisy you can’t hear anything over the din and reminds me of when my kids were little when my only sanctuary was the locked bathroom and a tub filled with warm bubblies.

  3. If the last sunspot faded out by about 22 July then have we not had at least 38 days of continuous uninterrupted spotlessness rather than the 30 quoted above?

    REPLY: I wasn’t pointing out consecutive days, but a calendar month. Since the post has only been up for a few minutes, I’ve edited for clarity, and added the comment from Jim Powell about consecutive days.

    August is likely to be the first calendar month without a sunspot since June 1913.

  4. Here is some info from Wikipedia on 1913 weather:

    The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, historically referred to as the “Big Blow”, the “Freshwater Fury” or the “White Hurricane”, was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin in the Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario from November 7 through November 10, 1913. The storm was most powerful on November 9, battering and overturning ships on four of the five Great Lakes, particularly Lake Huron. Deceptive lulls in the storm and the slow pace of weather reports contributed to the storm’s destructiveness.
    The deadliest and most destructive natural disaster ever to hit the lakes,[1] the Great Lakes Storm killed more than 250 people, destroyed 19 ships and stranded 19 other ships.

  5. “So-post May/ June 1913 what did earthy temps do?”

    http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dtx/stm_1913.php

    “..one could hardly deny that the fall storm of November 7-12th, 1913
    ranks near or at the top! In fact, it is generally agreed that
    the November 1913 storm (which concentrated more on Lake Huron
    for its death and destruction) was the greatest ever to strike
    the Great Lakes…

    …The air behind this front was very cold for
    early November with temperatures plunging into the single figures
    across the Northern Plains….”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Shackleton

    Endurance left Plymouth for the Antarctic on 8 August 1914.[36] After stops at Buenos Aires and South Georgia she departed for the Weddell Sea on 5 December. As the ship moved southward early ice was encountered, which slowed progress. Deep in the Weddell Sea conditions gradually grew worse until, on 17 January 1915, Endurance became frozen fast in an ice floe, and on 24 February, realising that she would not now break free until the following spring, Shackleton ordered the ship wintered.

  6. It was quite cold then. Titanic and ice age alarmism 1912:

    http://www.almanac.com/timeline/

    :-)

    If anyone thinks that Farmer Almenac isn’t good science enough, here’s GISS data (adjusted due to McIntyres error debunking summer 2007):

    Source:

    http://graphoilogy.blogspot.com/2007/08/us-temperature-revision.html

    (GISS data may be a bit UHI contaminated, but that isn’t so important here…
    http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=12492 )

    (There’s not only the sunspotfree days variable but also a length-of-the-sun-cycle variable, and isn’t that soon the highest in for 200 years?)

  7. So with 43 days we will almost certainly have the longest period of spotless days since 1913 tomorrow, almost 100 years.

    Do you think this will make the New Scientist? or will it be knocked out of the news by a penguin with heat stroke?

    Seven more days without spots, and it moves from the 10th longest period without spots since 1849 to the 4th longest period. Another five days would make it the 3rd longest period.

    Its going to be an interesting few day for sun watchers.

  8. Note: that June in 1913 was only 30 days long… and August, of course, is 31 days long.

    Just sayin’…

  9. We lived in Omaha NE for about five years and we always had a tornado or two, but the old times were always talking about the seven in 1913 that wiped out the City. It was over Easter week in March of 1913
    1. The Omaha Tornado March 23, 1913 101 Dead
    This was the darkest day in Nebraska severe weather history. A family of at least seven tornadoes moved across Nebraska and Iowa. The Omaha tornado was the deadliest. It started in Sarpy County, ripping its way northeast through Ralston, where seven people died. The twister then cut a quarter-mile wide path across Omaha and killed 94 people with 600 homes destroyed and over 1,100 others damaged in this tornado. Two children were killed Southeast of Beebeetown in Harrison County, Iowa.

    Click here to see Photo Gallery

    2. The Yutan Tornado March 23, 1913 20 Dead
    The tornado crossed the Platte River 3 miles SW of Valley. 2 people died west of Logan, IA. This tornado, also on the outbreak of March 23rd, started 1 mile southeast of Mead. The tornado moved northeast and destroyed the northern half of Yutan, killing 17 people. The tornado continued moving northeast and killed another person just outside of town. The tornado killed two other people on farms northeast of Yutan. 40 homes and 4 churches were destroyed or damaged with losses at about $100,000. The twister crossed the Platte river southwest of Valley and continued to move northeast across Washington County. The tornado ended in Harrison County, Iowa where two people were killed in Logan.

    3. The Berlin Tornado March 23, 1913 13 Dead
    The “Berlin” tornado began 4 miles south of Douglas in southwest Otoe County. The tornado traveled northeast and leveled many farms as it passed 2 miles NW of Syracuse. The tornado hit the town of Berlin, now called Otoe, and killed 12 people and produced $250,000 worth of damage. The tornado continued into Cass County where it killed one person near Rock Cliffs, by the Missouri River. The tornado continued on into Iowa where 3 people were killed north of Bartlett and 2 people were killed SE of Glenwood in Mills County.

  10. Regarding the whole issue of forthcoming cooling. Rewrite that as “current cooling”.

    I would love there be a Little Ice Age so the venal alarmists can be taken to task and thrown out of the temple.

    But, my common sense tells me a warmer planet would be good for everyone and every living thing, particularly trees and agriculture. A warm planet is a happy planet :-)

    Gore, Suzuki, Hansen, Strong, King, Stern, Flannery, Monbiot (the original moonbat) et al have an enormous guilt to answer for.

  11. I followed the August 21st sun speck. It appeared to me to have lasted 12 hours. Am I right in this?

  12. We need to refer back to 1912, when a massive chunk of ice broke away from a Greenland glacier, due to AGW, and the resulting iceberg ultimately sank the Titanic. We were unfortunate in not having the scientific acumen of an Al Gore who could have warned us in advance of the potential of such a disaster.

    We should rejoice in the Sun’s reduced energy output and its masking of AGW.

  13. Some comments about 1913. 1913 ocean temps began to suddenly heat in the Southern Hemisphere in preperation of an El Nino in 1914. The Northern Hemisphere ocean temperatures remained quite cold in 1913 but began to rapidly heat in 1914 due to I theorize an increase in solar irradience in preparation of Solar Cycle 15. These temps in the ocean from 1909-1912/13 were probably the coldest since the Dalton Minimum. These ocean temp anomalies can be found in HADCRUT data. This would also be the first spotless August since 1878, preceding Solar Cycle 12 with a max of 75 spots, or the same amount of spots Leif Svalgaard is predicting.

  14. Total Solar Irradiance continues to decline as well.

    The PMOD composite has been averaging 1,365.0 W/m2 for the past three months, the lowest recorded since records began in 1978.

    ftp://ftp.pmodwrc.ch/pub/data/irradiance/composite/DataPlots/composite_d41_61_0808.plt

    The SORCE TSI plot continues declining as well – down to about 1,360.8 W/m2 – its lowest as well.

    http://lasp.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/ion-p?ION__E1=PLOT%3Aplot_tsi_data.ion&ION__E2=PRINT%3Aprint_tsi_data.ion&ION__E3=BOTH%3Aplot_and_print_tsi_data.ion&START_DATE=1640&STOP_DATE=2050&TIME_SPAN=24&PLOT=Plot+Data

  15. Yes, certainly back in 1913 we were burning carbon fuel like crazy and adding to AGW. Except…not.

  16. Bill Illis (16:34:45) :
    Total Solar Irradiance continues to decline as well.
    The PMOD composite has been averaging 1,365.0 W/m2 for the past three months, the lowest recorded since records began in 1978.

    The decline in PMOD is spurious. There is of course the solar cycle decline, but if you look at the difference between PMOD and SORCE [the latter with a correct calibration] you will see how PMOD is slowly ‘slipping’. Here is a link to a plot of the difference: http://www.leif.org/research/DiffTSI(PMOD-SORCE).png

  17. No go. You’ll have to copy/paste the link.

    REPLY: just paste the link in your comment with nothing around it, WP will automatically detect and setup the correct tags for HTML

    see:

    Oh wait, I just tried it…the problem is that you are using illegal characters in your web server file names – parenthesis are not allowed. Try dashes – or underscores _ when making such folder names.

    That will also hose a lot of browsers…they won’t even be able to get there.

  18. illegal characters in your web server file names – parenthesis are not allowed. Try dashes – or underscores _ when making such folder names.
    There are not illegal and all browsers I know of [Firefox, IE, Opera] works fine with such names. Just your blogging software that is too picky.

    REPLY: Well I beg to differ. I’ve been programing web systems for years, and thats one of the no-no characters for URL’s. WordPress is pretty much in the top 5 for blogging software, so I seriously doubt they’d be the problem. Bottom line, save yourself hassle and don’t use ( and ) in URL’s as paths or filenames.

  19. I used {a href=”http://www.leif.org/research/DiffTSI(PMOD-SORCE).png”}try this{/a} with braces replaced by brackets. So this works. Good to know a workaround for the blogging software. And, everybody: excuse me for using bandwidth for this kind of testing, but “know thy tool”.

  20. Leif Svalgaard (17:00:31) :

    “http://www.leif.org/research/DiffTSI(PMOD-SORCE).png”
    maybe this works…

    Worked for me (cut & paste), this might work on a click:

  21. Russ Steele (14:16:35) :

    Here is some info from Wikipedia on 1913 weather:

    The Great Lakes Storm of 1913, historically referred to as the “Big Blow”, the “Freshwater Fury” or the “White Hurricane”, was a blizzard with hurricane-force winds that devastated the Great Lakes Basin in the Midwestern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario from November 7 through November 10, 1913.

    While I’ve never lived there, apparently so many Novembers in the Lake Superior & Lake Huron area have a major storm that the phenomenom has been named “The Witch of November”. There was a good article in Weatherwise a long time ago.

    The Edmund Fitzgerald sank on November 10, 1975, and later Gordon Lightfoot wrote a ballad to honor the ship and crew. And the Witch:

    The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
    And a wave broke over the railing
    And every man knew, as the captain did too,
    T’was the witch of November come stealin’.
    The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
    When the Gales of November came slashin’.
    When afternoon came it was freezin’ rain
    In the face of a hurricane west wind.

    See

    http://www.corfid.com/gl/Albums/Summertime_Dream/The_Wreck_Of_the_Edmund_Fitzgerald.htm

    http://www.corfid.com/gl/wreck.htm

    Note to moderators – check the spam folder, I posted a working link to Leif’s image, but the message doesn’t show up as awaiting meticulous moderation.

  22. Dr. David Hathaway of NASA commented on the lack of solar activity in an interview earlier this week.

    http://www.earthfiles.com/news.php?ID=1465&category=Science

    “…There has not been a spot on the sun for at least a month and this is about the third rotation of the sun this cycle where we have not seen any sunspots at all.

    “It is suggesting that the next cycle 24 might be a small cycle – much to my consternation! – since I’ve been predicting a big cycle.

    “But the fact that it’s taking this long to get started and that it’s starting out so slowly are hallmark signs of a small solar cycle…”

  23. I’m interested to hear what you’all think of Drs. Dikpati and Gilman’s prediction of cycle 24 being 30% to 50% stronger than cycle 23 but will not start until late in 2008. They say they have a 98% accuracy rate going back over the last 8 cycles with their model.

  24. “It has also been over a month since a countable sunspot has been observed, the last one being on July 18th.”

    From the official numbers from the SIDC in Brussels

    http://sidc.oma.be/products/ri_hemispheric/

    and the US Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpmenu/forecasts/SRS.html

    July 20 was the last day with an “official” spot, so the current spotless streak starts as of July 21. Eleven days in July, plus 30 days (so far) in August, makes the current spotless days streak 41 as we speak.

    We tie the 1996 42-day streak tomorrow (and make the top ten on Jan Janssens Spotless Days Hit Parade).

    After that, the way it’s been going, only the #2 & #1 spots look challenging (69 & 92 days respectively).

  25. I’ve always been of the mind that on a global scale very few people would notice any significant changes to climate. That’s why it is so difficult to track even major changes; for every region that had a significantly cold summer or winter, another place would see a corresponding warm episode. Real temperature or precipitation changes are too small to measure -especially using GISS or NOAA data. The changes accumulate over a generation or two before it becomes obvious to scientists -and by then it is too late. Even the LIA took 3 centuries to manifest itself, and to this day, we do not have a solid physical model that can coorelate climate with solar activity. I don’t think Lief is trying to be cantankerous; he’s just sticking to what he knows. Science is Science.

    I’m a major AGW sceptic. But, I am also the first to say I haven’t a clue what’s caused climate variation since the beginning of the Roman Empire. What we do know is merely ancedotal evidence (albeit important evidence, but totally lacking in scientific precision). Most of our paleo climate reconstructions sufffer serious deficincies after 400 years , which means we have no real idea what the “global mean temp” was before 1650. What really is upsetting is the fact that there are today many climate scientists who claim to know the global temperature anomaly down to a hundredth of a degree C going back a thousand years. Yet, these same people have no issue with the constant GISS adjustments to the surface record.

    Climate models like economic models are now in the purview of politics and not scientists. The lines have been drawn. In economics, there are liberal theorists such as Keynes, and conservative ones such as Friedman; niether is considered “scientific”. Climate Science has crossed that Rubicon. Even if next year we had several July freezes in Dallas TX, Rome Italy, and Hong Kong, there would be plenty of AGW Alarmists ignoring these events as weather, and the GISS folks would surely “adjust” these anomalies out of the record.

  26. There’s an early warning on spaceweather.com about a ‘coronal hole’ due to shoot some solar wind in our general direction. Anyone out there understand what’s going to hit Earth? Or not?

  27. JP says: “What really is upsetting is the fact that there are today many climate scientists who claim to know the global temperature anomaly down to a hundredth of a degree C going back a thousand years.”

    Could you name one of these many…Or were you using major hyperbole here? FYI, here is Mann et al.’s first paper going back 1000 years: http://wdc.obs-mip.fr/pubs/millennium-camera.pdf . Note that the data in Fig. 3 has 2-standard-error limits of about +-0.5 C before 1600.

  28. Right. So as of Monday, September 1st, end of the day, we will have the longest spotless period since 1913, passing the 42 days recorded in the last solar cycle minimum in 1996. More significant, perhaps, is the fact that this period will have been preceded by a 25 day spotless period with only a brief 3 day period of spots in the third week of July. Of interest, I think, is the fact that the Dikpati model only went back the last 8 cycles, through solar cycle 16. Yet, that is the breakpoint at which we see a significant change in total spotless days in a cycle between the cycles 10-15 versus 16-23. So far, we have with cycle 24, 5 periods of spotless days greater than 20.

    This is a larger number of such periods than any of the last 8 cycles. We have also exceeded 420 spotless days as of Monday without a minimum. It seems to me that we may be seeing some kind of change in the sun switching to a mode more similar to cycles 10-15 than cycles 16-23, thus negating the Dikpati model’s prediction for cycle 24.

    I would be interested in knowing why Dikpati did not try to extend the model back through previous cycles. Was it due to the fact that the model broke down, or that they felt they didn’t have accurate data?

    So whether solar cycle 24 is low or high will help science in a lot of ways in refining models of the sun.

    And if Livingston and Penn are correct, we may be seeing a new Maunder Minimum, which Dr. Svalgaard has proposed we call the Eddy Minimum, in honor of Jack Eddy.

    Kim

  29. According to this gentelman, the moon is on top of the correlation “food chain” with climate change. This puts CO2 fourth on the correlation list.
    Meteorologist and climate researcher David Dilley of Global Weather Oscillations http://www.globalweathercycles.com, says the gravitational cycles act like a magnet by pulling the atmosphere’s high pressure systems northward or southward by as much as 3 or 4 degrees of latitude from their normal seasonal positions. As the current gravitational cycle declines, global temperatures will begin cooling during 2008-09 with dramatic global cooling by 2023.
    Very interesting, very interesting indeed.

  30. Kim, Jack Eddy liked words; he chose Maunder Minimum for the alliteration.
    =============================================

  31. Pamela Gray (13:57:37) :
    To me, this is the most fascinating time. When the Sun is blank, it whispers its secrets to those curious enough to wait, watch, and listen.
    I agree, and I have looked forward to this for a long time. We need to learn what is the ‘ground state’ of the Sun.

    Kim Mackey (20:09:27) :
    I would be interested in knowing why Dikpati did not try to extend the model back through previous cycles.
    Because they used sunspot areas as input and the high-qulaity record starts in 1874, then they need three cycles [=35 years] to ‘prime’ the model and only then can the ‘prediction’ begin.

  32. Pingback: Sun Spotless For 42 Days And Counting

  33. on solar scientists.
    John-x points out to Dr. Hathaway’s interview with earthfiles.com, long talk about SC 24 and so on. Dr. Hathaway is a senior scientist at NASA. He does not mention the Livingston/Penn paper: Does he not know it? It is a paper in his field, solar physics. Leif Svalgaard assesses the Livingston/Penn as very important, hard data. Now, I guess, Leif is not a senior scientist. He seems to be a retired scientist, who has the time to communicate his superb knowledge on solar physics to this blog. That PMOD vs SCORE comparison is great: it looks as if the Davos people have done too much skiing, lately.
    Now Dr. Hathaway has also been asked the sun and climate question in that earthfiles interview. He has given the standard answer: TSI does vary with solar cycles, but the variation is not strong enough. The standard 1/3 answer of solar scientists. No mentioning of Svensmark of course.
    Now I quote from a standard compendium on elementary particle physics: ‘There is a significant anti-correlation between solar activity and the intensity of the cosmic rays with energies below about 10 GeV’ .
    The irony is: earth is not getting warmer from the heat of the burning fossile coal, oil and gas. Instead it is claimed to come through a side door, the greenhouse warming.
    The side doors of solar activity to influence the earth climate such as cosmic ray intensity variations are just put aside. Unimportant.

  34. I used to get excited about these “quiet sun” posts hoping that a longer solar minimum may help cool the planet and help discredit the AGW crowd. But I recently read in this blog or another that Leif Svalgaard doesnt believe the sun’s output is variable enough to substantially impact the climate. I also thought I read that he wasnt convinced that increased gamma rays from reduced solar flux did indeed increase cloud formation. Just curious if there are any experts that have documented a correlation between solar cycles and climate change.

    And Leif, if I misinterpreted your views, I’m sure you’ll be quick to point it out!

    REPLY: The question really is this. Is TSI the climate driver directly, or is it something else like magnetic/GCR interaction? The third possibility is a gate effect of some sort, whereby a small change in some aspect of of the sun is amplified on earth. – Anthony

  35. I have just read that Sydney, Australia, has just had it’s coldest August since 1944. On the other side of the continent I can say it hasn’t been much better. Matty, Perth, Western Australia

  36. Before everybody gets too excited about this spotless streak being in the “Top 10″, let’s allow for a missing observation here or there. As pointed out at http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Spotless/Spotless.html

    > One of the longest spotless periods (since 1818) is probably
    > from 24 October 1822 till 12 March 1823 (140 days!), but
    > unfortunately, the series are broken on 29 December 1823
    > (no observation available for that day).

    There are *A LOT* of spotless streaks early in the record, which are broken by 1 day of missing observations. I downloaded the daily sunspot number file http://sidc.oma.be/DATA/dayssn_import.dat from SIDC and “adjusted” it (ducking the tomatoes and rotten eggs). Specifically, I wrote a bash script that changed missing to zero, where both the day before and the day after are zero. Instead of being “Top 10″, 42 days now ties us for 17th. I believe that this is a more accurate interpretation of the data. Here is everything longer than 30 days. The format is…
    From YYYY MM DD to YYYY MM DD spotless_days

    From 1822 10 24 to 1823 3 12 140
    From 1913 4 8 to 1913 7 8 92
    From 1822 8 4 to 1822 10 22 80
    From 1823 3 16 to 1823 5 25 71
    From 1901 3 11 to 1901 5 18 69
    From 1823 8 7 to 1823 10 1 56
    From 1879 2 16 to 1879 4 10 54
    From 1821 12 24 to 1822 2 14 53
    From 1902 3 17 to 1902 5 4 49
    From 1855 8 14 to 1855 10 1 49
    From 1823 5 28 to 1823 7 15 49
    From 1878 4 4 to 1878 5 20 47
    From 1902 1 16 to 1902 3 1 45
    From 1878 9 14 to 1878 10 28 45
    From 1912 1 21 to 1912 3 3 43
    From 1822 6 9 to 1822 7 21 43
    From 1996 9 13 to 1996 10 24 42
    From 1856 4 22 to 1856 6 1 41
    From 1901 11 26 to 1902 1 4 40
    From 1821 5 5 to 1821 6 13 40
    From 1924 1 6 to 1924 2 13 39
    From 1913 7 15 to 1913 8 22 39
    From 1866 12 29 to 1867 2 4 38
    From 1855 12 12 to 1856 1 18 38
    From 1878 7 27 to 1878 9 1 37
    From 1876 5 17 to 1876 6 22 37
    From 1944 4 18 to 1944 5 23 36
    From 1933 11 5 to 1933 12 10 36
    From 1834 4 7 to 1834 5 12 36
    From 1867 4 20 to 1867 5 24 35
    From 1821 8 20 to 1821 9 23 35
    From 1824 12 22 to 1825 1 23 33
    From 1933 12 12 to 1934 1 11 31
    From 1912 7 12 to 1912 8 11 31
    From 1900 11 25 to 1900 12 25 31

  37. And in this first spotless month (38 days total) since June 1913 and the aftermath that followed, do you think there is the slightest hope that science will crawl out from under it’s rockand at least give the public a hint as to what may happen next?

    We warn of Hurricanes, we try with tornadoes, we hope to try someday with Earthquakes. Tell me what is so bad about warning about this? I already see here on the West coast unmistakable phenomena of the change. The public knows something is not right, they just don’t know what to make of it.

  38. Steph_LA,

    All of this is based on theories. Until we have definite proof, Lief is correct. But then so are the people who theorize that climate is related to solar activity. Anthony begs a good question. All too often, we tend towards the “single driver” explanation. Solar activity may not be the forcing agent, but it could well be a catalyst (of sorts) that allows or facilitates other forcing agents to act. We see catalysts at work in many other situations, why not here as well? Being a biologist and not a physicist, I can’t say for sure, so I’m open to debate on the subject.

    We have only one specimen planet. We are pretty well confined to observational study since it would be difficult to try out various tests like dosing the planet with enormous amounts of this gas or that radiation. We are, then, stuck with observing what ahppens when conditions change. This often means observing coincidences. CO2 is rising and the average temperature has gone up, whether a little or a lot is debatable. Is that cause and effect (CO2 drives temperature), or effect and cause (temperature drives CO2), or just coincidence? If you can’t change parameters its difficult to tell with any certainty unless it happens repeatedly and with significant similarity, all else being equal. There is a tral temptation to say I see two things happening together so one must be causing the other. In medicine, that kind of thinking has lead to some pretty amazing notions, most of them wrong, some disasterously wrong.

    Likewise, solar minimums and cooling may just be coincidence. We can’t stir up the sun on September 1, 2008 and see if it gets warmer, then settle the sun down and see if it gets cooler again. We have to rely on historical records for solar activity compared with similar records for temperature. Both sets of records have enough problems to raise some doubts. There is a long history for sun spots, but the instruments used hundreds of years ago were pretty limited compared with those we use today. The record of temperatures that we would use in conjuntion with the sun spot records is likewise of limited value, before the invention of the thermometer and the telescope, which is a very short time, we are limited to what can only be called eye-balling. Until we have high quality records covering several hundreds or better yet, thousands of years, we are really speculating and theorizing. Even then, an experiment with one subject is still a pretty poor experiment.

    For my part, I think that if the sun spots remain low or absent and the earth cools, then we can say that something happened. What that something is I’m not sure. So, for now, I’m willing to take Leif’s theories at face value. I also take opposing theories at face value. We can only wait and see.

    But that shouldn’t stop us from having fun speculating.

  39. Kim Mackey: “And if Livingston and Penn are correct, we may be seeing a new Maunder Minimum, which Dr. Svalgaard has proposed we call the Eddy Minimum, in honor of Jack Eddy.”

    I’ll vote for that motion.

  40. “When its noisy you can’t hear anything over the din and reminds me of when my kids were little….”

    Having watched my 6 month-old most days over the past 4, your metaphor is particularly significant.

    ‘Before everybody gets too excited about this spotless streak being in the “Top 10″’

    I agree with Walter Dnes, we may well rival cycles outside those ‘recorded’, for spotless days. Although this is getting facile, I predict the current stretch will not be #24’s longest, whenever it ends, provided NOAA remains firm on it’s criteria.

    We’ve waited since March for another #24 so I expect more #23s, and the the sun, though seemingly near flatline, is settling lower still.


  41. john christmas (02:51:34) :

    http://skyfal.free.fr/

    http://www.pensee-unique.fr/froid.html#spinorbite

    Hey, those are interesting links!

    The first talks about the norwegian solar researcher Pål Brekke who has received a lot of local criticism at home for thinking like a scientist…

    The second is an interesting piece on the proposed “Spin-Orbit Coupling Between the Sun and the Jovian Planets”. It contains a small diagram which is clearly borrowed from my simulator page at http://arnholm.org/astro/sun/sc24/sim1/ :-)

  42. Robert Bateman (22:52:55) :

    And in this first spotless month (38 days total) since June 1913 and the aftermath that followed, do you think there is the slightest hope that science will crawl out from under it’s rock and at least give the public a hint as to what may happen next?

    It would help if science knew what to expect itself. Whatever the influence of a quite sun, all the other climate drivers are still at work. While the media is doing its mostly usual horrible job fawning over Gore et al, they do have a problem in describing the amorphous risks of the next few decades.

    We warn of Hurricanes, we try with tornadoes, we hope to try someday with Earthquakes. Tell me what is so bad about warning about this? I already see here on the West coast unmistakable phenomena of the change. The public knows something is not right, they just don’t know what to make of it.

    Hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes all bring the risk of imminent destruction and pureeing of your home. The effects you’re seeing on the west coast (whatever they are), are most likely related to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation flipping negative. Joe D’Aleo refers to the last flip to positive as the Great Pacific Climate Shift.

    Here’s a warning: “Climate conditions of the 1970s may return over the next couple of decades.” Somehow that pales in headline potential to “Weather conditions of Katrina return to New Orleans.” Even that pales to what the Daily News might say, perhaps “Get Out. Now!”

  43. This afternoon we witnessed the death of another AGW poster child. The Murray River in south eastern Australia has been used as a dire warning of what is happening (ignoring the water being taken by plantations) and yet today the following happened;

    Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
    Victoria

    This flood warning covers both the Victorian and New South Wales parts of the
    Murray River catchment upstream of Lake Hume.

    Initial Minor Flood Warning for the Murray River Upstream of Lake Hume
    Issued at 3:47 PM on Sunday the 31st of August 2008
    by the Bureau of Meteorology, Victorian Regional Office

    Rainfall totals of up to 70 mm have been recorded since last night in the Murray
    River catchment upstream of Lake Hume. This has caused stream rises in the
    Murray River catchment upstream of Lake Hume. Rainfall will continue until this
    evening, with general totals of up to 10mm expected, with some isolated higher
    falls.

    Areas of minor flooding are expected to develop in the Murray River catchment
    upstream of Lake Hume during this evening.

    http://www.bom.gov.au/cgi-bin/wrap_fwo.pl?IDV36910.txt

  44. In the mid-Atlantic states, the winters of 1912 & 1917 were perhaps the coldest of the century (followed by 1977). Western MD recorded all-time record lows of from -25F to -40F in Jan 1912.

  45. Pingback: STAY WARM, WORLD… Roger Carr « Stay Warm, World…

  46. I was going to ask that question Mr White, one more point, it has been stated that Mars and Pluto were also warming, are they still warming.

  47. All too often, we tend towards the “single driver” explanation. Solar activity may not be the forcing agent, but it could well be a catalyst (of sorts) that allows or facilitates other forcing agents to act.
    Everyone here knows our climate is a complex system, with both short and long-term cycles. However, in the final analysis, it is the sun which is the most important climate driver. The exact mechanisms involved haven’t been proven, true enough, but Leif, unfortunately takes that fact one step further and runs with it, saying that the sun can not possibly be anything more than a minor player. That, to me, and to a lot of us here is not science, but ideology. He seems to have an inordinate belief in the power of coincidence. Why, I don’t know.

  48. My first time up on here!
    A question was raised on the possibility of any biological effects on climate and another suggestion that the sun’s activities although not having a direct action on the climate may open a “gate” for some other action.
    Suggestion only following;
    In the 1970’s David Sands of Montana State University found ice nucleating bacteria in cloud droplets. This work has been verified in a number of other studies.

    Global cloud cover is regarded as one of the finely balanced variables that can tip the global climate into warming or cooling phases.
    Another major variable is the solar output.
    It has been suggested that cosmic ray particle ionisation particles may be a nucleation source for cloud droplets and therefore for creating more cloud cover.
    However, an active sun will deflect galactic cosmic rays through the medium of strong solar magnetic fields leading to less global cloud cover and therefore a higher solar heating effect at the global surface.
    There is some minor evidence from the UK for this effect but a lot of doubt over the supposed mechanism and effects.

    I humbly suggest an alternative biologically based mechanism for regulating global cloud cover.
    An active sun will also produce a high flux of Ultra Violet light and I believe some very recent satellite data has indicated that the solar UV flux is a great deal stronger and far more variable than had been forecast in the solar models.
    UV is also a very efficient destroyer of bacterial cells to the extent that it is used as a sterilising agent in some parts of the medical scene.
    A highly active sun will pour out copious amounts of UV which on penetrating deep into the atmosphere would probably destroy a considerable proportion of the nucleating bacteria in the lower atmosphere which in turn would effectively reduce the droplet nucleating bacterial levels and therefore the formation of the global cloud cover.
    If some recent work is correct, would have the effects of allowing more solar radiation into the very lowest levels of the atmosphere and onto the surface with a consequent warming effect.
    Alternatively, low solar activity would of course lead to a lower level of UV penetration into the lower atmosphere, a lot lower level of mortality amongst the cloud nucleating bacteria, resulting in more cloud cover and a cooler surface temperature due to the increased albedo of the extra cloud cover.
    There may even be a twist in the tail here as high level cloud cover will alter the solar UV penetration with a possible effect on the nucleating bacterial levels and therefore on the formation of the amount of low level, high albedo cloud.
    As the amounts of cloud cover are postulated to be critical in any global temperature changes, this biological mechanism could be a very significant part of any climate change effects.

    OK, I have had my chance so I will now tie the bandage over the eyes and wait for the bullets!

  49. Bruce Cobb (07:30:29) :
    However, in the final analysis, it is the sun which is the most important climate driver.
    The glaciations were not due to solar variations, but to variations of the Earth’s orbit and tilt. The very warm periods in the past where CO2 was 20 times higher than today were not driven by the Sun [which was weaker back then].
    The exact mechanisms involved haven’t been proven, true enough, but Leif, unfortunately takes that fact one step further and runs with it, saying that the sun can not possibly be anything more than a minor player.
    This is a misrepresentation. What I have said is that it has not been demonstrated that the very minor solar variations that we observe are the cause of climate changes.
    That, to me, and to a lot of us here is not science, but ideology. He seems to have an inordinate belief in the power of coincidence. Why, I don’t know.
    Science is about what has been observed, demonstrated, and explained. Ideology is belief in what must be true ['final analysis'].

  50. For Millions of years life on earth developed and boomed, while not bothering about the sun’s activity or black holes or impact on earth’s climate. All other lifeforms on today’s earth still don’t care about the sun’s activity. Why should we bother about it? When it get’s hotter I put shorts on and when it get’s cooler, I put a coat on.

    I don’t bother about the sun, but what bothers me are those ignoring the sun’s impact on earth’s weather.

  51. Thanks for the correction Carsten; as you may have surmised I seldom check my own ‘work’.

    The point remains, as attested, apparently, by Mr. White, #23 spots are still more regular to date.

  52. RayB (08:27:59) :

    “All other lifeforms on today’s earth still don’t care about the sun’s activity. Why should we bother about it? ”

    Here’s how this lifeform is affected:

    I go to the store, pick out what I want, take it home and eat it.

    That’s called being at the top of the food chain.

    When this lifeform goes to the store and there’s nothing there, this lifeform quickly moves from the top to the bottom o’ the food chain, and before too long is supplying food for microorganisms, fungus, earthworms, flies, etc.

  53. Jim Powell (09:17:43) :
    Leif, what do you think caused the Little Ice Age?

    I’ll outline [for the umpteenth time], why I don’t think it was the Sun:

    Charles Greeley Abbot measured the ‘solar constant’ [what we today call TSI] from 1902 to 1956. He believed to observe solar cycle variations of a percent or more. When Jack Eddy in the 1970s drew attention to the Maunder Minimum, it was only natural to assume that if there was a solar cycle variation of TSI of a percent+, that the Maunder Minimum would be a likely culprit in explaining the LIA, and so was born the [now almost dogmatic] link between the two. When spacecraft measurements of TSI showed a variation ten times smaller than what Abbot [and Eddy, back then] believed, the link should have been severed as being observationally refuted. But the notion lives on because it is ‘so obvious’ and simple. “What else can it be?” To maintain that variations in TSI are the direct cause of LIA would require a very high sensitivity of the climate to even minute changes in TSI. Higher than most scientists would agree to, unless recourse is made to unspecified ‘feedback’, ‘triggering’, or whatever other unknown causes that might be operating. Such may be the case, but the evidence therefor is weak, IMHO.

    The other popular culprit is cosmic rays. 10Be and 14C radionuclides show that the magnetic cycle was still operating during the Maunder Minimum [and earlier Grand Minima as well], so the Sun’s ‘magnetic shield’ against cosmic rays was still in place, so this mechanism does not seem to be viable either.

  54. Leif,
    Thanks for your continued contributions. Much of what is discussed here is repetitive because of the continued growth. Just think of it as repitition for emphasis. Your comments are much appreciated.
    Mike Bryant

  55. ‘If a lack of sunspots causes cooling, then why didn’t we get cooling following 1913? If the GISS data is to be believed at all, the earth warmed from 1913 until 1940. ‘

    Because the ‘triggers’ for Minimum were not met. The data of (minimum to minimum + maximum to maximum)/2 has a hysteresis point that seems to be somewhere around 14 yrs to trigger a really bum set of cycles that give us the decades long cooling.
    That’s what I get from poring over all the excellent data and papers on the length of cycles.
    For the periodicities of cycles that exist over many years, such as the 183 yr, 188 yr and 243 yr, I find that the culprit for generating the long 14yr+ min-min + max-max / 2 is the 243 yr cycle in relation to the 183 yr cycle.
    Look at the last graph in this paper:
    astro-ph, 2006 June 27
    LONG-TERM VARIABILITY IN THE LENGTH OF THE SOLAR CYCLE
    Michael L. Rogers, Mercedes T. Richards

    Since it is the length of the current cycle 23 that keeps on growing that has us concerned (as well as the inability of sc24 to get going), any data on SC length in relation to other factors is a good place to look for answers.

    I would hazard a guess that those two long periodicities have collided, and it takes down the inheritant cycle.

  56. Robert Bateman (10:27:07) :
    I would hazard a guess that those two long periodicities have collided, and it takes down the inheritant cycle.
    Ken Schatten has a word for this: cyclomania

  57. Mr. Bateman thank you for the information. I don’t mean to sound like a proponent of AGW because I am skeptical of that theory as well. My problem with the solar activity/climate theory is that there does not seem to be a correlation, at least none that I can find. While it is true that a correlation alone does not prove cause and effect, I think you must have a correlation as one of the conditions for proving cause and effect. Even if there is a 14 year time lag a correlation could still be demonstrated if it exists. If there are other factors that must be taken into account that could be done as well. But so far I haven’t seen such a correlation. If you have a source which shows a correlation I would appreciate it if you could provide a link to it. Thank you.

  58. Leif, Bruce

    Bruce:
    I can’t accept when you say in yr (07:30:29)
    … That, to me, and to a lot of us here is not science,
    but ideology. He seems to have an inordinate belief in the power of coincidence.
    Why, I don’t know….

    You are complaining Leif’s sceptimism? I may not agree with Leif on every item.
    Here and on CA. But I respect it as it is. And I deeply appreciate all the time
    he spent on both blogs. Learnt a lot of it, still don’t understand all of it.
    But with that, I have to live.

    Me too, I am convinced that the climate more or less is changing with sun’s activity.
    But how it’s achieved, I don’t know. Coincidence? … humm, rather naaaww.
    May be there a common source for this similarity? I guess, but I don’t know.

    Leif:
    If, TSI don’t works proportionally, but integrally? (I am thinking of earth’s climate
    as the behavior of an control system). As far as I – may – see, it behaves as most
    of the couplings behave integrally – slow start with it’s influences, but increase over time.

  59. KlausB (12:04:13) :
    If, TSI don’t works proportionally, but integrally? (I am thinking of earth’s climate as the behavior of an control system). As far as I – may – see, it behaves as most of the couplings behave integrally – slow start with it’s influences, but increase over time.
    I don’t know, but I guess that the real problem is that TSI does not vary enough to begin with. I’m willing to accept that even a tiny, tiny TSI variation can have effect if [and only if] a clear physical mechanism can be found that can quantitatively explain what is going on without recourse to unknown maybes. If the energy problem wasn’t there [that is: TSI varied enough] then there would plenty of possible mechansims.
    I’ll give an example: magnetic storms, aurorae, ionospheric disturbances, etc adds up to a certain amount of energy. About forty years ago we had learned enough about the solar wind that we could estimate the energy impinging on the Earth [and the magnetosphere] and it was found to be at least ten times that required to create all the disturbances in Geospace. In such a situation it is easy to accept that the solar wind was the cause. But suppose it had been the other way around, that the solar wind energy flux into the Earth’s environment was only a tenth of that required to create and maintain the disturbances. In that case we would have a much harder time claiming that the solar wind was the driving force of Geospace disturbances. An we would still be debating that, with claims and counterclaims, with venomous exchanges, etc [very much the same as the current debate].
    In fact, such a debate raged a century ago, see: http://www-ssc.igpp.ucla.edu/spa/papers/hyp/ I quote Lord Kelvin’s conclusion:
    He concluded that during “eight hours of a not very severe magnetic storm, as much work must be done by the Sun in sending magnetic waves out in all directions through [the vacuum of] space as he actually does in four months of his regular heat and light. This result … is absolutely conclusive against the supposition that terrestrial magnetic storms are due to magnetic action of the Sun; or to any kind of dynamical action taking place within the Sun, or in connexion with hurricanes in his atmosphere, or anywhere near the Sun outside.” He made an even stronger inference: “The supposed connexion between magnetic storms and sun-spots is unreal, and the seeming agreement between the periods has been a mere coincidence.”
    Sounds familiar? Replace ‘terrestrial magnetic storms’ with ‘climate’.

  60. Leif this is not a very technical question. The difference in temperatures that we are talking about are not very large. Over the last century, I think we are talking about one degree fahrenheit or so. What would the temperature on earth be if there was no sun? Is it inconceivable that the active sun of the last decades could have zero effect on average earth temperature?
    You can make it short if you like.
    Thanks,
    Mike Bryant

  61. don’t know, but I guess that the real problem is that TSI does not vary enough to begin with. I’m willing to accept that even a tiny, tiny TSI variation can have effect if [and only if] a clear physical mechanism can be found that can quantitatively explain what is going on without recourse to unknown maybes.

    That is right, and I will take it further. Even if there are still unexplained “coincidences” in the climate history, and the models have proven unable to predict the climate at any scale, we still should assume that we know every thing there is to know about the subject, and should never, ever aver that we may possess less than perfect understanding of the climate.. EVER! To do so will give the Yahoos talking points, and it is far more important to win the rhetorical debate than it is to honestly admit that there are holes in our knowledge, and to engage our critics in open debate. Honest debate is a TRAP! It just creates DOUBT! Better we should shut up and shout down these so called “scientists” like Svensmark, and start moving the populations into the collective yurts where we true scientist think they should live.

    This has been an announcement from “Movement to enslave the west through environmentalism.” That is all.

  62. FYI, if I may cite the Ri report of SIDC at Belgium:

    Predictions of the monthly smoothed Sunspot Number using the last
    provisional value, calculated for January 2008 : 4.2 (+-5%)

    SM CM SM CM SM CM

    2008 Feb 4 3 2008 Aug 2 9 2009 Feb 4 19
    Mar 4 4 Sep 2 10 Mar 4 22
    Apr 4 5 Oct 2 11 Apr 5 24
    May 3 6 Nov 3 12 May 6 27
    Jun 3 7 Dec 3 14 Jun 6 30
    Jul 2 8 2009 Jan 4 17 Jul 7 32

    SM : SIDC classical method : based on an interpolation of Waldmeier’s
    standard curves; the estimated error ranges from 7% (first month) to
    35% (last month)
    CM : Combined method : the combined method is a regression technique
    coupling a dynamo-based estimator with Waldmeier’s idea of standard
    curves, due to K. Denkmayr.
    ref. : K. Denkmayr, P. Cugnon, 1997 : “About Sunspot Number Medium-Term
    Predictions”, in “Solar-Terrestrial Prediction Workshop V”, eds.
    G. Heckman et al., Hiraiso Solar Terrestrial Research Center, Japan, 103

    So I guess, the sunspotless time period will probably continue until mid 2009. I think this will become one of the longest cycles ever.

  63. Mike Bryant (12:59:57) :
    Over the last century, I think we are talking about one degree fahrenheit or so. What would the temperature on earth be if there was no sun?
    I reckon about 3 Kelvin.
    Is it inconceivable that the active sun of the last decades could have zero effect on average earth temperature?
    No, it is very conceivable, even calculable: about +0.01 Kelvin

    Yorick (13:13:26) :
    Speaks for itself. But I guess you missed my point: Lord Kelvin was wrong as we now know, but based on what was known at the time he was quite correct, as befits the greatest physicist of his time.
    If the energy is there lots of explanations can be found [and one or combinations of some will be right]. If the energy is not there, new physics or new, unknown processes are needed. Should one base policy on the unknown?

  64. Leif:
    My guess was just that, a guess. Some of us are thinking outside the box due to the failure of the current models to predict. I’m not trying to force a new theory down anybody’s throat there, or jump to conclusion or cycomania.
    What I am doing is looking for things that have been missed along the way, like a harmonious relationship of cycle lengths that seems to have blindsided the current theories.

  65. David:
    When I look at the data, I see precious little to get far back enough in time to be able to handle more than the current last 4 minimums. The paper I referenced is the only one I have found so far that even addresses periodicities and cycle lengths. Sorry, I am but a layman here. If cycle length and periodicities are the correlations, it is with deep regret that the telescope was not invented 100 yrs or better before the Maunder came on the scene. And the detailed records of sunspot observations don’t go back far enough.
    Science is going to have to get really ingenious or darned lucky to nail this one.

  66. Robert Bateman (13:39:07) :
    My guess was just that, a guess. Some of us are thinking outside the box due to the failure of the current models to predict.
    No need for out of the box thinking. Schatten and my Babcock-Leighton dynamo-based model, and the flux-transport dynamo model by Choudhuri and his students are right on track and are not failing. That other people’s models aren’t doing too well is normal science. They will learn from SC24 and perhaps tweak the model or figure out what they did wrong and improve the model. Interestingly enough, they are not worried at this point. They also think they are right on track. What we all agree on is that sharp harmonics from well-tuned cycles [high Q in Electronic terms] are not likely in that seething, throbbing, roiling blob of gas that we orbit.

  67. Well that’s interesting, Leif, because the 183 yr and 243 yr periodicities are rather on the mushy side of things, with 243 yr bordering on the rolling side of nebulous.
    You’re the scientist here.

  68. Robert Bateman (14:11:33) :
    You’re the scientist here.
    A characteristics of science is that it is falsifiable. And a hallmark of a scientist is that he can be wrong.

  69. The recent interview of Hathaway:

    http://www.earthfiles.com/news.php?ID=1465&category=Science

    was most impressive, despite the interviewer’s attempts to stick to an AGW agenda. He was most candid on his concerns of how SC24 is (or isn’t) developing. And he was quite circumspect in tying terrestrial events to solar events. He is in quite an unenviable position. He’s both a scientist and a leader of a team of scientists attempting to come to an understanding of what’s happening with the sun — quite a juggling act.

    So, we’ve had a full month with no spots. What this means is that we’ve had a full month with no spots. Now, show me a string of three or four months with no spots and things’ll start to get interesting. {Personally, I think that the quieter the sun remains for longer stretches of time, the cooler Earth’s climate will become.} I will not be surprised to see Hathaway scrap the predictions and head on back to the drawing board; I get the impression that his quest for knowledge, learning, and understanding the sun far outweigh his ego — the next couple of cycles should be most instructive.

  70. lotsa really interesting material to ponder here… yet I have a hunch, just a senior moment no doubt, that although people say there is no evidence for the Sun being the primary climate driver (in history, leave Milankovitch out), that the evidence does exist, and that I’ve brushed against it several times.

    Svensmark?? Solanki/Usoskin?? I need to go back to check.

    Anthony – it would be nice to see graphs of cloud cover, albedo, and solar magnetic flux for August, or rather, back to the most recent proper sunspots for comparison, if they’re available. Here in UK it feels like the cloudiest, coldest August on record.

  71. Leif: If the TSI has not varied much, what of the wavelength composition? More or less UV (that covers a lot of ground) or IR (even more)? Gasses and other things on Earth respond differently to different wavelengths. What does the solar spectra look like over time? Do we have any way of measuring or determining it before satellites? A shift of a dozen nanometers can have a dramatic effect on absorbtion, without much change in total output.

  72. Leif Svalgaard (09:50:43) :

    “…To maintain that variations in TSI are the direct cause of LIA…”

    Most people do not even reference TSI in talking about relationships between solar activity and climate, though it is used as a straw-man argument by those trying to dismiss such relationships.

    The straw-man argument goes like this:

    “TSI variance is too small to explain temperature variations, therefore there is no relationship between sun and climate change. End of discussion.”

    I know you are aware that increased solar activity results in significant heating of the upper atmosphere. By definition then, an inactive sun results in a cooler upper atmosphere.

    The thermosphere-ionosphere system is not static, passive, inactive. It is quite dynamic.

    You may argue that expansion and contraction of millions of cubic kilometers of the atmosphere is too remote to affect terrestrial climate.

    I would just state the obvious – too little is known to make such an argument.

    For example, the daily weather balloons don’t make it even to the mesosphere; levels in the upper stratosphere and above are not routinely sampled, and there has been precious little work done to relate middle and upper atmospheric changes to tropospheric weather and climate.

    In the stratosphere however, a definite solar-climate signal has been found. Karin Labitzke has been working on this for 20 years. The QBO (Quasi Biennial Oscillation of stratospheric and mesospheric winds), when ordered according to phase (east or west) and solar cycle, shows a definite relationship with northern hemisphere winter.

    http://strat-www.met.fu-berlin.de/labitzke/

    I know you are also aware that the variance of solar ultraviolet is much greater than that of TSI, and that this must variance must affect the production of stratospheric ozone.

    Ozone production is a heating process; less ozone production means a cooler stratosphere. Once again, we are talking about millions of cubic kilometers of air heating and cooling in response to the solar cycle.

    The stratosphere, mesosphere, and the thermosphere-ionosphere system are not conveniently isolated from weather which occurs in the troposphere.

    Changes in the upper and middle atmosphere cause changes in global climate.

    What per cent of the physical mechanisms are known and understood? Rough guess – less than 1 per cent.

    It’s going to take work. Frau Dr. Labitzke didn’t look out the window one morning and notice the QBO and the solar cycle combining to change climate.

    “…The other popular culprit is cosmic rays. 10Be and 14C radionuclides show that the magnetic cycle was still operating during the Maunder Minimum [and earlier Grand Minima as well], so the Sun’s ‘magnetic shield’ against cosmic rays was still in place, so this mechanism does not seem to be viable either.”

    Wow, I don’t understand this at all.

    Of course the sun didn’t “die” during the Maunder Minimum. That was a question for a long time that now seems resolved: the Schwabe and Hale cycles didn’t stop entirely, they were just very weak.

    Cosmogenic isotope production was much higher during the Maunder Minimum than at anytime in the last 2000 years!

    The sun was giving us hardly any protection at all from GCR (galactic cosmic radiation)!

    If the increased-nucleation-of-low-cloud-by-GCR hypothesis is correct, global low cloud cover and hence albedo must also have been higher than at any time in the last 2000 years.

    So changes in the stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere-ionosphere system drives changes in tropospheric weather and climate in ways which are presently >99% unknown.

    Increased GCR reaching the lower atmosphere during low solar activity MAY increase atmospheric aerosol production AND provide those aerosols with electric charge, making them doubly effective as CCN (cloud condensation nuclei).

    What about the oceans?

    Solar activity is now known to drive ocean cooling on a ~1500-year cycle (“Bond events”)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1500-year_climate_cycle

    Does it also drive the shorter term (decadal and multi-decadal scale) oscillations, and/or influence ENSO (El Nino/Southern Oscillation)?

    These are questions of HUGE importance, and simplistically or dismissively saying, “TSI variation is too small to account for that” is just absurd.

  73. The thought I keep having about TSI variance is that with typical 11 year cycles the variance is not enough to drastically increase or decrease global temperatures. But what if you _don’t_ have typical 11 year cycles?

    In other words, global temperatures may indeed be highly sensitive to TSI variances but only if such variances last for significant lengths of time so that feedback mechanisms either negative or positive come into play.

    For example, we know that increases in albedo will definitely result in global cooling. If we have 60 years of consistently low TSI, will that cause a gradually increasing albedo (for whatever reason — clouds, snow) so that the result is significantly lower global temperatures?

    Solar cycles 24 and 25 should really help us pin down the solar-terrestrial links and feedback mechanisms and the delay times in the system.

  74. Leif, thank you for your response. I’ve read much of what you have posted on ClimateAudit.org. I accept what you have to say about TSI and appreciate your willingness to participate on these Blogs.

    If the sun is what drives climate from one century to another, then I think cosmic ray theory has a good chance of being the reason why. One of the aspects of CR theory that I like is that it explains the extensive ice ages farther back in the geological record. Do you have an explanation for the earth almost totally freezing over 700 million year ago?

  75. Retired Engineer (15:40:31) :
    John-X (16:27:19) :
    I know you are aware that increased solar activity results in significant heating of the upper atmosphere. By definition then, an inactive sun results in a cooler upper atmosphere.
    The thermosphere-ionosphere system is not static, passive, inactive. It is quite dynamic.

    The density decreases by a factor of 1000 for each 50 km increase in altitude. So at the ionosphere the density is down by a factor of a million, and at the thermosphere [the strong heating up to 1000K is more mostly above the ionosphere by another 50 km and more] the density is down by a factor of a billion or more. So we have a very small tail wagging a very large dog.

    You may argue that expansion and contraction of millions of cubic kilometers of the atmosphere is too remote to affect terrestrial climate.
    It is not the volume that matters but the mass and as I just showed that mass is very small compared to the mass of the air where climate happens.

    I would just state the obvious – too little is known to make such an argument.
    Then the same would go making the argument that the effect is great. If too little is known to say the effect is tiny, then too little is also known to say that the effect is not tiny.

    I know you are also aware that the variance of solar ultraviolet is much greater than that of TSI, and that this must variance must affect the production of stratospheric ozone.
    It undoubtedly does.

    Ozone production is a heating process; less ozone production means a cooler stratosphere. Once again, we are talking about millions of cubic kilometers of air heating and cooling in response to the solar cycle.
    Once again, the mass involved and thus the heat content is minuscule compared to the troposphere

    The stratosphere, mesosphere, and the thermosphere-ionosphere system are not conveniently isolated from weather which occurs in the troposphere.
    The influence usually goes the other way. It is the dog wagging the tail. Upwards traveling planetary waves are responsible for most of the dynamics.

    Changes in the upper and middle atmosphere cause changes in global climate.
    I think, in view of the above, that this is an untenable supposition.

    What per cent of the physical mechanisms are known and understood? Rough guess – less than 1 per cent.
    I would say a lot less. Rough guess – much less than 1 in a billion. But that is not the issue at hand. To ascribe what we surmise to unknown forces is the ultimate defeat.

    “[,,,]the Sun’s ‘magnetic shield’ against cosmic rays was still in place, so this mechanism does not seem to be viable either.”
    Wow, I don’t understand this at all.

    It shows :-)

    Of course the sun didn’t “die” during the Maunder Minimum. That was a question for a long time that now seems resolved: the Schwabe and Hale cycles didn’t stop entirely, they were just very weak.

    10Be/14C shows that the solar cycle modulation of cosmic rays during the Maunder Minimum was just as large as it is today, so the magnetic cycle was just as vigorous even though sunspots were less visible.

    Cosmogenic isotope production was much higher during the Maunder Minimum than at anytime in the last 2000 years!
    The Spoerer minimum (1415–1534) was deeper than the Maunder Minimum so presumably cosmic ray production was even higher then. And, as with the Maunder Minimum, the cosmic ray modulation revealed by 14C was still showing the familiar 11-year cycle modulation.

    If you study http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Solar_Activity_Proxies.png you will see this:
    1) the 10Be concentration 1645-1695 was the same as from 1820-1950 in spite of the gross difference in average sunspot numbers [0 vs. 60]
    2) the strong maxima [shown as dip because of the inverted scale] in 1695-1705 and in 1883-1900 were short-lived and much evidence suggest that these are related to strong volcanic activity [Hekla ~1700] and Krakatoa 1883.
    3) and note again that the 11-year modulation is equally strong throughout.
    4) although not shown, the 10Be concentration is sensitive to climate [as it depends on rain/showfall that washes 10Be out of the stratosphere

    If the increased-nucleation-of-low-cloud-by-GCR hypothesis is correct, global low cloud cover and hence albedo must also have been higher than at any time in the last 2000 years.
    Direct measurements of the albedo shows that it is not correlated with the solar cycle while it is claimed that low-clouds [via the purported control by GCRs] are, so it has not been demonstrated that the albedo is the highest in the last 2000 years.

    So changes in the stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere-ionosphere system drives changes in tropospheric weather and climate in ways which are presently > 99% unknown.
    and yet you believe so much in this.

    Solar activity is now known to drive ocean cooling on a ~1500-year cycle (”Bond events”) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1500-year_climate_cycle

    The late Gerald Bond was a good friend of mine and we have discussed this on several occasions. Bond did not show that the Bond Events are caused by the Sun. He suggested that as a possible cause. The very Wiki article you cite also has this to say: “Causes and determining factors of the cycle are under study; researchers have focused attention on patterns of tides, variations in solar output, and “reorganizations of atmospheric circulation.” So, it is not known that the Bond Events have solar causes. Gerald’s answer to me was always “but, what else can it be?”. That, in my book, does not constitute knowledge.

    These are questions of HUGE importance, and simplistically or dismissively saying, “TSI variation is too small to account for that” is just absurd.
    First, this is not simplistically nor dismissively. There are good reasons for this. and precisely because the issue is of huge importance, we should not simplistically and enthusiastically embrace solar influences that arise from causes that are more that 99% unkown.

    Anyway, all this is well-trodden ground [in this blog and others] and it, sadly, but predictably, seems to make little difference to true believers.

  76. John-X (16:27:19) :
    So changes in the stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere-ionosphere system drives changes in tropospheric weather and climate in ways which are presently > 99% unknown.

    I would put much confidence [and base policy on] something that have causes that are > 99% unknown.

    John, all this is well-trodden ground both on this and other blogs and I’ll not wade over that again, unless somebody else ‘seconds the motion’.

    Jim Powell (18:03:57) :
    Do you have an explanation for the earth almost totally freezing over 700 million year ago?
    Possibly on John’s 99% unknown causes :-)
    No, I don’t ordinarily speculate that far back.

  77. Leif Svalgaard (19:57:38) : Your comment is awaiting moderation

    Since I’m never sarcastic, I better correct myself:

    John-X (16:27:19) :
    So changes in the stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere-ionosphere system drives changes in tropospheric weather and climate in ways which are presently > 99% unknown.

    I would not put much confidence [and base policy on] something that have causes that are > 99% unknown.

  78. Leif,

    How does the earth avoid getting a net positive charge if cosmic rays are mostly protons? If I was rich, I would put you on a retainer for answering ignorant questions.

    TIF(thanks in advance)

  79. statePoet1775 (20:35:58) :
    How does the earth avoid getting a net positive charge if cosmic rays are mostly protons? TIA(thanks in advance)
    First of all, almost all the cosmic rays we observe are ‘secondary’ cosmic rays [debris from the original proton smashing into the air]. One ‘primary’ cosmic ray may generate a ‘cosmic ray shower’ with millions of secondaries and tertiaries, etc. So the actual positive charge picked up is very small. If this charge was not shorted out [or neutralized], the Earth would charge up indefinitely. But, the universe is full of electrons and any small positive charge would soon be shorted out by electrons sucked in from space. There are such extra electrons out there because the electron that once belonged to the proton is out there somewhere. Some of these are also ‘cosmic rays’, but we don’t see most of them because they are about 2000 times lighter than their proton. But there is a very, very small residual positive charge as the ‘sucking in’ is not instantaneous. That very small charge is completely swamped by the charge separation caused by the global circuit [ http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2006/2005JD006988.shtml ].

  80. Speaking of the low-lying cloud cover, no matter how it works, it was in full charge during 90% of the fires we had here in No. CA this summer. The smoke hung on the ground day in day out, lifting only by the direct force of a 1 day wind/week that clocked with the co-rotating coronal hole. Direct observation of a 2 month long stubborn air inversion. Never seen anything like it.

  81. Robert Bateman (22:55:41) :
    Speaking of the low-lying cloud cover, no matter how it works, it was in full charge during 90% of the fires we had here in No. CA this summer. The smoke hung on the ground day in day out, lifting only by the direct force of a 1 day wind/week that clocked with the co-rotating coronal hole.
    Did the wind also clean out the corona?

  82. No, the wind blew the smoke clear down to the state Capital, where they choked too and promptly stopped. Now we get a frost warning to go with the stunted crops for labor day.
    Did the corona eject sustained winds or erratic winds?
    What’s that Solar Wind doing right now?
    Nothing.
    Dead stop.
    Frost Warning.
    Observe.

  83. While there is little to be seen from projecting the Sun these days (well over a year now), there sure is a lot of phenomena outside for those of us willing to stick thier head out the window.
    Something on the order of a heat wave with high winds on whose heel is followed by a Polar Low with high winds and Frost.
    Now where do you suppose that blasted Solar Wind has gotten off to again?

  84. “But, the universe is full of electrons and any small positive charge would soon be shorted out by electrons sucked in from space.” Leif

    This leads to another question. Since, as you say, the electrons are lighter than the protons then I would expect them to be deflected more by magnet fields. So, (don’t laugh too hard) could we expect the earth to get more positively charged when the sun’s (or earth’s) magnetic field is stronger? And/or (and I suppose this to be a tiny effect at best) does the earth’s magnetic field cause the high speed electrons and protons to accumulate at the North/South (backwards?) poles respectively?

  85. statePoet1775 (05:37:19) :
    This leads to another question. Since, as you say, the electrons are lighter than the protons then I would expect them to be deflected more by magnet fields. So, (don’t laugh too hard) could we expect the earth to get more positively charged when the sun’s (or earth’s) magnetic field is stronger? And/or (and I suppose this to be a tiny effect at best) does the earth’s magnetic field cause the high speed electrons and protons to accumulate at the North/South (backwards?) poles respectively?
    The amount of charge involved is so minute that it cannot be measured so there is not much meat on that bone. In general, you may assume that all such [obvious] effects have been explored and if not included in our list of well-known and accepted effects have been duly discarded.

  86. “In general, you may assume that all such [obvious] effects have been explored and if not included in our list of well-known and accepted effects have been duly discarded.” Leif

    Yeah, I know. Too bad Tesla died before all his ideas could be tested.

  87. Why does everybody keep focusing on this blasted TSI? It is not synonymous with total solar output, as it only includes the portion of the spectrum traditionally considered “light” (from infrared to UV), or <50% of the traditionally recognized spectrum. The TSI measurement is centered around 1ev, but cosmic ray particles incident on the earth are centered at a photon energy of ~3 Mev, and vary from solar min to max (in number) by approximately an order of magnitude. (from the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics) The most powerful cosmic ray measured to date had a calculated photon energy of ~3x10e23 ev. This does not seem inconsequential, at least to myself, but all I ever hear anybody quoting is TSI.
    Comments?

  88. Should one base policy on the unknown? – Lief

    My point exactly. Glad you saw it. No, one should base policies on the unknown, nor the dimly known, you know, like the climate as currently understood.

    Your argument gives undue authority to the current state of knowledge, when it is clearly inadequate to explain the climate as we are experiencing it.

  89. Yorick (16:15:14) :
    Your argument gives undue authority to the current state of knowledge, when it is clearly inadequate to explain the climate as we are experiencing it.
    Just because we don’t understand the climate does not give credence to the idea that variations are caused by little green men manipulating it for their own purposes, or any other WAG.

  90. Yorick (16:15:14) :
    No, one should base policies on the unknown, nor the dimly known
    Perhaps the first comma is a bit misplaced… Sometimes it is hard to discern what the point is, when expressed vaguely enough…

  91. I know I asked this question before, and as I am one of those pesky ones who bugged their teachers relentlessly, here I go again:
    When it is spoken that the output of the Sun is diminished during solar minimum (if that’s the accepted way of putting it), are they meaning the visible or the total spectrum? It would be interesting to know if there are specific portions of the spectrum that are diminished as opposed to generally diminished. Or is this merely an effect of diminihed solar wind causing cosmic ray interaction in the lower atmosphere?

  92. Robert Bateman (21:10:08) :
    I know I asked this question before, and as I am one of those pesky ones who bugged their teachers relentlessly, here I go again:
    When it is spoken that the output of the Sun is diminished during solar minimum (if that’s the accepted way of putting it), are they meaning the visible or the total spectrum? It would be interesting to know if there are specific portions of the spectrum that are diminished as opposed to generally diminished. Or is this merely an effect of diminihed solar wind causing cosmic ray interaction in the lower atmosphere?

    The reason you didn’t get an answer is that your question is muddled.
    Normally the spectrum means electromagnetic waves like light, heat, radio waves, UV. The solar wind is a stream of particles, not part of the ‘spectrum’. Also what does “diminished as opposed to generally diminished” mean?

  93. Larry A. Shaffer (14:54:53) :
    Why does everybody keep focusing on this blasted TSI? It is not synonymous with total solar output, as it only includes the portion of the spectrum traditionally considered “light” (from infrared to UV), or <50% of the traditionally recognized spectrum. The TSI measurement is centered around 1ev, but cosmic ray particles incident on the earth are centered at a photon energy of ~3 Mev, and vary from solar min to max (in number) by approximately an order of magnitude. (from the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics) The most powerful cosmic ray measured to date had a calculated photon energy of ~3×10e23 ev. This does not seem inconsequential, at least to myself, but all I ever hear anybody quoting is TSI.
    and Larry suffers from the same kind of confusion as Robert as to what is part of the ‘spectrum’. Cosmic rays [in spite of the misnomer 'rays'] are not rays and are not part of the same ‘spectrum’ as the photons.
    The energy you mentioned is the same as that delivered by solar TSI acting for 50 seconds on a single square meter. These cosmic rays are extremely rare. It is estimated that the total flux of cosmic rays above 10e20 eV is just one (1) per square kilometer [= 1000,000 square meter] per century, That is why they are not considered important for the climate.

  94. ‘The reason you didn’t get an answer is that your question is muddled.
    Normally the spectrum means electromagnetic waves like light, heat, radio waves, UV. The solar wind is a stream of particles, not part of the ’spectrum’. Also what does “diminished as opposed to generally diminished” mean?’

    Electromagnetic spectrum, Gamma Ray (.0001 nanometer) through Long wave Radio (100 meter). Light output. I already have the links to the Solar Wind 3 month running, and I watch it daily.
    Now I will repeat the question once more in LIGHT of the above specification:
    Is there any specific wavelengths of light emanating from the Sun that are measured during minima that are otherwise not?
    And I already know that much of the total spectrum cannot be seen from Earth, it is blocked by the atmosphere. Is there any satellite data collected in daily measurements that would show diminished output?
    There is talk of the cosmic rays interacting with lower atmosphere in UV that increases albedo, and if that’s all there is, then satellite measurement outside the atmosphere will show that.
    I want to know what is coming from the Sun BEFORE it gets to the Earth’s atmosphere.
    What do you got?

  95. CORRECTION:
    Is there any specific wavelengths of light emanating from the Sun that are measured during minima and found to be diminished that are otherwise not?

  96. Robert Bateman (23:34:48) :
    Is there any specific wavelengths of light emanating from the Sun that are measured during minima that are otherwise not?
    Almost all wavelengths show diminished output during minima, and so the sum over all wavelengths [i.e. TSI] does that also.I have a feeling that that is not what you want. Maybe another reader can clarify your question for me?

  97. Joel,
    You asked,

    “Could you name one of these many…Or were you using major hyperbole here?”

    Mmmm…Let’s see. How about you checking the Osbourne and Biffra paleo data, much of this was used by Mann in constructing his hockey sticks. The tree ring data is rounded to the nearest hundreth, and the time period of AD800 to AD1400 (the MWP) is of special concern.

  98. Leif: Actually, that is progress. I had imagined that dimming would involve only a few of the wavelengths. I did not occur to me that a few of the wavelengths would remain normal but the majority dimmed.

    Which wavelengths, then, do NOT show dimming during minima?
    (even lines would be appropriate here … like HAlpha, etc.)
    Also, where do I find a daily recording (or graph) of TSI?

  99. I’m not a meteorologist but I’ve always wondered why the current methods for measuring temperature are so embraced and the resulting data is taken so literally. If temperature readings are taken near the ground and within a housing, albeit white and ventilated, the resulting temperature data will heavily reflect the amount of daily sunshine, rainfall, and of course wind velocity. Surely we need to embrace a new standard using updated techmology that can accurately measure air temperature with being compromised by external infra-red interference. This should be particularly important now with AGW.

  100. Wow, Lief, “little green men”

    Isn’t that what they said about continental drift? I am not saying it is proven, I am saying that the climate is not sufficiently understood to rule it out. You seem to think it is. I think you are wrong.

    It is as if you can’t see the beam in your own eye, which is that the models are far from perfect, and cannot be used to call anything “coincidence” for the mote in another’s which is that there is not a proven theory of how sunspots could cause temperature changes, when nobody is claiming that it is proven, we are only claiming that we doubt coincidences that happen consistently and there appears to be room in the current state of knowledge to accomodate an effect.

  101. Robert Bateman (06:32:29) :
    Leif: Actually, that is progress. I had imagined that dimming would involve only a few of the wavelengths. I did not occur to me that a few of the wavelengths would remain normal but the majority dimmed.
    Which wavelengths, then, do NOT show dimming during minima?
    (even lines would be appropriate here … like HAlpha, etc.)
    Also, where do I find a daily recording (or graph) of TSI?

    Actually, some brighten [I'll have to go and find precisely which ones, so stay tuned]. A good source [plots and data] for TSI is:

    http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/data/tsi_data.htm

    Yorick (07:05:15) :
    You seem much too angry for your own good [bad for digestion, etc]: I am saying that the climate is not sufficiently understood to rule it out.
    That the climate is not understood does not make it reasonable to embrace any old idea, no matter how wild [like continental drift :-) ]. There has to some physical sense behind the idea and it should build on what we think we know so that it can be falsified, without always being countered by: “so, OK, that was not it, but there are many other things it might be, we just don’t know”.

  102. Robert Bateman (18:25:18) :
    Thank You, Leif, that would be grand. I’ll look for it, and check out the tsi data.
    The spectral irradiance in the band 242-310 nm actually increases as we move towrds minimum. See, e.g.:

    http://www.leif.org/research/MgII-and-UV.xls

    or, if you don’t believe me [as some of the posters here don't] then at http://lasp.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/ion-p?ION__E1=PLOT:plot_timeseries_data.ion&ION__E2=PRINT:print_timeseries_data.ion&ION__E3=BOTH:plot_and_print_timeseries_data.ion&MIN_WAVE=242&MAX_WAVE=310&INTEGRATE='INTEGRATE'&START_DATE=25-Feb-2003+00:00:00.00&STOP_DATE=29-Aug-2008+01:26:30.00&IMODE=BEST&PLOT=Plot+Data

  103. “http://lasp.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/ion-p?ION__E1=PLOT:plot_timeseries_data.ion&ION__E2=PRINT:print_timeseries_data.ion&ION__E3=BOTH:plot_and_print_timeseries_data.ion&MIN_WAVE=242&MAX_WAVE=310&INTEGRATE=’INTEGRATE’&START_DATE=25-Feb-2003+00:00:00.00&STOP_DATE=29-Aug-2008+01:26:30.00&IMODE=BEST&PLOT=Plot+Data”

  104. I got it. Indeed it does. MgII line was a subject of study of the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory-2 for late type stars. UV studies of stars is a whole area of science.
    By the time you get from G type stars to M type stars, the absorption line has become an emission line. Might be saying that the blackbody temperature during minimum is falling,
    ergo less absorption for our G2V Sun. You could even say that the variablility in the sun is due to wandering in the spectral subtype…. ever so slightly.
    Thank you, that is what I was looking for.

  105. Here’s something for everyone to chew on:
    http://www.solarcycle24.com/ and check out the trend charts, then look at the solar wind chart 3mo. Seems that a lull in the cyclic swing of things has started. Co-rotating coronal hole closing?

  106. Ok, back to that MgII 242-310 nm graph. It’s been 2 years roughly since the MgII was passed up, so 2 years back to even where the SC23 will finally end. That’s 2010 time.
    Roughly, very very roughly. Line of thought only, but I’d say that this Solar Lull is a deep slumber.

  107. It’s nice to have Leif around.
    Patient he is often.
    And when we post a cranky thought.
    He puts it in a coffin.

  108. Actually, I am not angry. I just think you are wrong.

    “There has to some physical sense behind the idea and it should build on what we think we know so that it can be falsified”

    This is a declaration of faith in the work done so far. I have no such faith. What you are arguing is that there is no intuitive way to get to a connection with sunspots, even though it is very clear from reading the IPCC that the modelers have very limited understanding of clouds and some breakthrough will be required before we do. A breakthrough that we can’t see right now, or we would be able to predict clouds in the models.

    You are making an argument similar to one made by the Intelligent Design people, for example, that the eye could never have evolved because it is too hard for a human to concieve of the chain of events that would lead to it in any detail whatsoever.

    The physical world is not limited by the human imagination or human reason. You might argue that the scientific method has to continue down the tracks laid by the general direction of science because that is all we have to do science. However, that path is likely to contain many blind alleys in these early days of climate study. We don’t know enough to rule anything out right now.

  109. Yorick (20:20:32) :
    What you are arguing is that there is no intuitive way to get to a connection with sunspots, even though it is very clear from reading the IPCC that the modelers have very limited understanding of clouds and some breakthrough will be required before we do.

    What have IPCC and modelers and clouds to do with sunspots? You are assuming that their ignorance can be cured by including sunspots in the mix. There is no grounds for such an assumption. you might as well claim that earthquakes cause climate changes and maybe by remote control they also cause sunspots, and your argument is that we don’t know enough to rule anything out right now.

    However, that path is likely to contain many blind alleys in these early days of climate study. We don’t know enough to rule anything out right now.

    What I claim is that we do know enough to recognize a blind alley when we see one, even if, perhaps, not all of them. You are saying that we don’t know enough to separate the wheat from the chaff, but that does not mean that we must accept all as wheat. Most is chaff so that ought to be our default position.

  110. You are right, Yorick, we do not have 2,000 yrs, 1000 yrs, or even 500 years of climate study to work with. When I look at the information we do have, I think of the evolution of telescopes and detectors: As you go back in time, the resolution loses magnitudes. In the time frame we need most to have superior resolution, we started it with crude lenses and eyeballs.
    What other choice do we have but to beat as many paths as possible?

  111. What I claim is that we do know enough to recognize a blind alley when we see one, even if, perhaps, not all of them.

    I disagree, I guess we are agreed on that much, anyway.

    If solar activity stays low and GW takes off like is predicted, then I will have to say you are right, but until that happens, I hope you will forgive me for suspending judgement.

  112. Robert Bateman (02:10:24) :
    Was the sunspot of aug 21 a visible light sunspot?
    Yes, just small.

    REPLY: Now waaaaaiiiiiittttttt a minute. Leif you NOW agree that it was a spot rather than a pore than shouldn’t have been counted? – Anthony

  113. Leif Svalgaard (06:41:01) :
    Robert Bateman (02:10:24) :
    Was the sunspot of aug 21 a visible light sunspot?
    Yes, just small.
    REPLY: Now waaaaaiiiiiittttttt a minute. Leif you NOW agree that it was a spot rather than a pore than shouldn’t have been counted? – Anthony
    Mike Bryant (07:01:54) :
    Leif,
    You ain’t selling out are you?

    Hold it, folks. When Robert asked “was the sunspot…” he clearly meant “was whatever was seen…”, and not hung up on detail of it was a pore or a real spot. His question had to do with what wavelength thing bloody thing was visible in, presumably with the aim of finding a reason for the ancients not to have counted it [if they couldn't see it].
    So, clearly, in my response I didn’t press the fine point either.
    Here is what Bill Livingston had to say about it in email to me:

    William Livingston to leif, Sep 1 (4 days ago)
    Reply
    Leif,
    I don’t know the definition of an ‘active region’. Certainly this was a pore(s). Without penumbrae.

    In my own archive of sunspots and pores, for which I do not normally have white light pictures, the pores are distinguished by the greater depth of the quiet sun Fe 15648 compared to the Zeeman components. This is my own criterion and not discussed elsewhere so far as I know.

    An interesting feature of pores is that, with the Fe 15648 line, the mag field measurement is independent of seeing (so long as the Zeeman components are visible). This is because the line is always completely split in umbrae. As you know, only the Mt Wilson drawings and our own 15648 obs are capable of accurate mag field measurements in umbrae. SOLIS, SOHO, and Hinode obs tell us nothing about field strength (only flux). See: Solar Phys 239, 41 (2006).
    Bill
    —-
    I defer to Bill: it was a pore.
    Should it be counted? That is where different people have different rules. Wolf would not have counted it, NOAA did not call it an ‘active region’, SIDC did count it. If your rule differs from Wolf’s [which is OK] you will just have to adjust your numbers [using a ‘k’ different from 1 in Wolf’s formula R = k (10G+S), that’s all.

  114. Dee Norris (05:29:18) :
    How about the Barycentric Path? ;-)
    I did see the smiley, but that path [from the climate's POV] is just the solar path, so not different. My question to Robert [and Yorick, I guess] that he did not answer, was “what other path than solar does he beat?”

    Yorick (05:12:58) :
    [me:] What I claim is that we do know enough to recognize a blind alley when we see one, even if, perhaps, not all of them.
    [Yorick:] I disagree, I guess we are agreed on that much, anyway.

    If solar activity stays low and GW takes off like is predicted, then I will have to say you are right.
    It would seem that you [even now] agree that we can recognize that blind alley, contrary to your statement that we don’t know enough to rule anything out.

  115. So, this Aug 21st sunspot, was it a visible sunspeck that won’t relate to the 150 yr record?
    Did we count sunspots that small since 1857 or whenever the unbroken line of records began?
    All I care about is that we continue to compare apples to apples.

  116. Robert Bateman (09:21:06) :
    So, this Aug 21st sunspot, was it a visible sunspeck that won’t relate to the 150 yr record?
    Did we count sunspots that small since 1857 or whenever the unbroken line of records began?
    All I care about is that we continue to compare apples to apples.

    Robert, you may assume that the solar astronomers are not complete morons. And that they have agonized over this problem for 150 years. Here is the story:

    When Schwabe discovered the sunspot cycle [and it was brought to a wider attention in von Humboldt's wildly popular 'Cosmos'] there was immense interest in this phenomenon. Rudolf Wolf in Switzerland began his own careful count in 1849 and continued until his death in 1893. He had also wrote to astronomers around the world to assist him in getting an unbroken record. He had first thought of measuring the area of all the spots, but discovered that this was impractical and too much work [especially to impose on his collaborators abroad] so settled for a simpler method. He had determined that on average a sunspot ‘group’ of related spots [born and decay as an ensemble] had about 10 spots and thought [correctly] that the group was an important physical aspect of sunspots. To reflect that he devised his famous formula: W = 10 * G + S, where G is the number of groups and S is the number of spots, giving group ten times as much weight as a spot [that is where the '10' comes from]. He also discovered that S was very sensitive to what astronomers call ‘seeing’, the constant ‘jitter’ of the image caused by movement of the heated air through which we observe the Sun. This was especially a problem for the smallest spots [the pores], that simply disappeared if the seeing was bad. His solution to this problem was to not count the smallest spots [and even count the biggest spots twice or more - getting the 'area' in through the back door, so to speak]. Hoyt and Schatten about a decade ago went so far as to suggest not counting any spots at all, and only count the groups – their famous Group sunspot number. Wolf found that his scheme worked well and that his collaborators could produce reasonable [as judged by Wolf, of course] results, and so was born the Sunspot Number – or as he wanted it called, the Wolf Number. Because it is not a ‘real’ count of spots, but a sort of index, he called it the “Relative sunspot number” [hence its designation by the letter R].

    Wolf also scoured the astronomical literature and dug up all the observations that he could find and tried to re-construct the sunspot number from these old observations. This turned out to be a lot harder than he had thought because the observations were done by different people with different telescopes at sites with different seeing [Sunny Italy vs. foggy England]. Wolf worried a lot about the ‘calibration’ of his reconstructed counts. His partial solution to this problem was to introduce a ‘constant’ k [from the German word Konstant] to compensate for the differences: R = k * W. He discovered on several occasions that the numbers he had already published were incorrectly calibrated [this means that he had assigned the wrong 'k' to an observer], so the sunspot record kept changing [in 1861 where the numbers were adjusted upwards by 25%, in 1872 when the numbers before 1800 were simply doubled, in the 1880s, ...]. Wolf was well aware of the implications of just changing a series that people were already using for correlations of all sorts: the weather, the price of grain, you name it…] so these ‘adjustments’ were not much publicized; he simply publish an adjusted series without too many comments – perhaps hoping that people wouldn’t notice too much.

    The reason that Wolf was confident that his adjusted and corrected ['monkeyed' with some would say] sunspot number series was an improvement over the raw counts from disparate sources, was that several people around 1845-1855 had discovered that the ‘magnetic needle’ was sensitive to variations in the sunspot number: many spots and the needle’s variations were greater. The Sun’s Far Ultraviolet radiations creates and maintains the ionosphere in which currents flow that create a magnetic field
    at the surface of the Earth, adding to the Earth’s own field and changing the direction of a compass needle slightly. They did not know [yet] about the ionosphere and FUV, but the variation of the needle was discovered a long time ago by Graham in London in 1722 and was easy to measure, even with 18th [and 19th] century instruments. wolf devised another famous formula: r = a + b * W, where r was the ‘range’ of the needle’s variation during a day [typically 5-10 arc minutes], W is his Wolf number, and a and b two constants that seemed to vary a bit from station to station. Wolf also asked the observatories to keep track of ‘r’. At the end of each year when Wolf had worked up his Wolf number for the year, he would calculate [a true prediction] the value of ‘r’ for the different observatories well ahead of getting ‘r’ in the mail [no internet then!] from far-away places. He never failed to marvel at [and forcefully point out] how well his prediction worked, because it did. He was almost always right on. This gave him confidence in his adjustments.

    Meanwhile, in 1875 Wolf hired an assistant, Alfred Wolfer. Wolfer disagreed with Wolf about counting of small spots and argued that all spots should be counted [no matter how small, even pores]. As long as Wolf was alive, Wolfer did not prevail [although I think he stopped counting big spots twice] and Wolf’s method carried the day. Wolfer had in secret kept two counts: using Wolf’s method and using his ‘all-spot-counted’ method, and had determined that if the all-spot number was multiplied by k = 0.6 they would fir Wolf’s number reasonably well. So, when Wolf died, Wolfer switched to the all-spot method [which is used to this day], but all counts are scaled down by the factor 0.6, in addition to whatever other factor is determined by the size of the telescope, the observer, the location, etc.

    Wolfer also calculated the range of the needle [the so-called 'Declination'] using Wolf’s formula and set of constants a and b, and noted that although it had worked well for Wolf back in the 1860s, the calculated values of r began to drift and the disagreement with the observed values grew [systematically] with time. In addition, the famous and influential geophysicist Sidney Chapman did not care for ‘empirical’ adjustments and pooh-poohed the method, pointing out that the variation of a and b with location was not understood and so there were no rigorous theoretical justification for the relationship, and use of the formula was eventually abandoned by the 1920s. This means that we lost the valuable cross-check on the sunspot number that the formula had provided.

    So, what was wrong with the formula? It turns out to be two things: First, the magnetic force resulting from the ionospheric current controlled by the Sun is constant [over a large range of latitudes, 15-65 degrees] at any given time [although varies width]. But he deflection of the needle from true North is the resultant of two forces: the constant solar-induced force and the Earth’s own magnetic force, and that latter varies from place to place, from a maximum at the equator to zero at the poles. so, that was one source of variation of a and b. And second, the Earth’s magnetic field is itself slowly decreasing [10% since the time of Wolf], altering one of the two forces in the vector addition that gives us the final deflection. These reason were not known [although they could have been] when the formula was abandoned. If we take these two factors into account, Wolf’s formula works again [he would have been delighted] and we can now see that Wolfer’s 0.6 adjustment was not quite right and that Max Waldmeier who took over the production of the sunspot number in Zurich in 1945 introduced a 20% error in the calibration [due to his inexperience - there is a wonderful anecdote about that his predecessor, Brunner, would not help Waldmeier to get started because as Brunner said "I'm retired and cannot be expected to work anymore"].

    When Zurich stopped the sunspot number production in 1980, Brussels took over, with the usual problems of getting the calibration correct – splicing two series with no overlap. Use of the rediscovery that Wolf’s formula works again is being resisted by entrenched institutions and individuals that find it easier to adopt a ‘do nothing’ posture. We can see this in small things as well: the plot at NOAA of the predicted and observed cycle 24 values for the f10.7 flux is wrong, but ‘cannot be changed’. The adopting of 0.5 as August’s official sunspot number is still not changed even after SIDC has admitted that it may be [slightly] in error. The cycle 24 prediction panel has not updated their prediction taking into account the drawn-out minimum of SC23, and on and on.

    I hope you find this story of interest. It has many human element, good and sad, as life in general. Science is also a social process.

  117. Robert Bateman (10:31:20) :
    Looking back NOAA decided to recognize it as a valid sunspot
    Not quite correct. NOAA did not change its mind.
    From the file you cite, here are the last three months. the last column is the SIDC sunspot number, the penultimate column is the NOAA sunspot number. As you can see it stays at zero. NOA just reports both numbers.
    2008 06 4.2 3.1
    2008 07 1.0 0.5
    2008 08 0.0 0.5
    The NOAA ‘region number’ is different from the sunspot number, as I have explained repeatedly. The Aug.21-22 pores did not rise to the level of qualifying for a region number. Different story. Nobody changed anything at any time.

    REPLY: I’m going to make a separate post to clear up this confusion. – Anthony

  118. Okay. Since NOAA keeps it’s Aug 21-22 sunspot number at zero, can we then safely say that the last NOAA sunspot was 45 days ago?

  119. Robert Bateman (13:59:19) :
    Okay. Since NOAA keeps it’s Aug 21-22 sunspot number at zero, can we then safely say that the last NOAA sunspot was 45 days ago?
    Here are the NOAA numbers:
    2008 07 16 65 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 17 65 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 18 65 11 10 1 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 19 66 12 20 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 20 66 11 10 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

    2008 07 21 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 22 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 23 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 24 65 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 25 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 26 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 27 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 28 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 29 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 30 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 07 31 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 01 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 02 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 03 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 04 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 05 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 06 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 07 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 08 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 09 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 10 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 11 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 12 65 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 13 65 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 14 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 15 65 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 16 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 17 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 18 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 19 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 20 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 21 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 22 68 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 23 68 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 24 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 25 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 26 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 27 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 28 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 29 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 30 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 08 31 67 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 09 01 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 09 02 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 09 03 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 09 04 66 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    2008 09 05 65 0 0 0 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

    The last [SESC,NOAA] sunspot number reported was on July 20th.

  120. What this seems to suggest to me, Tim, is that we are in the process of reaching back 100 yrs or better for comparisons. And while this site ( http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Spotless/Spotless.html )
    has two different cycle pattern groups, there is nothing to say that the next one will be the SC10-SC15 group repeated. It may be entirely different.
    Ribht now SC24 coming up doesn’t match anything in the SC16-SC23 group.
    We’ve blown right through that dataset.

  121. No spots on the sun since july 20th.I make that 8 weeks and one day without a sunspot. Is that 57 days?
    Solar energy is behind photosynthesis and so would low photosynthesis due to low light would mean less co2 being taken upo by plants and more global warming?
    April 2009 as a start date for solar cycle means winter 2008 will be a bit frozen.
    Already in Europe we’ve had two really bad summers.

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