NASA: Sun is “blankety blankest” it’s been in the Space Age

From NASA Science News h/t to John-X

Spotless Sun: 2008 is the Blankest Year of the Space Age

Sept. 30, 2008: Astronomers who count sunspots have announced that 2008 is now the “blankest year” of the Space Age.

As of Sept. 27, 2008, the sun had been blank, i.e., had no visible sunspots, on 200 days of the year. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1954, three years before the launch of Sputnik, when the sun was blank 241 times.

“Sunspot counts are at a 50-year low,” says solar physicist David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. “We’re experiencing a deep minimum of the solar cycle.”

see caption

Above: A histogram showing the blankest years of the last half-century. The vertical axis is a count of spotless days in each year. The bar for 2008, which was updated on Sept. 27th, is still growing. [Larger images: 50 years, 100 years]

A spotless day looks like this:

A SOHO image of the sun taken Sept. 27, 2008.

The image, taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) on Sept. 27, 2008, shows a solar disk completely unmarked by sunspots. For comparison, a SOHO image taken seven years earlier on Sept. 27, 2001, is peppered with colossal sunspots, all crackling with solar flares: image. The difference is the phase of the 11-year solar cycle. 2001 was a year of solar maximum, with lots of sunspots, solar flares and geomagnetic storms. 2008 is at the cycle’s opposite extreme, solar minimum, a quiet time on the sun.

And it is a very quiet time. If solar activity continues as low as it has been, 2008 could rack up a whopping 290 spotless days by the end of December, making it a century-level year in terms of spotlessness.

Hathaway cautions that this development may sound more exciting than it actually is: “While the solar minimum of 2008 is shaping up to be the deepest of the Space Age, it is still unremarkable compared to the long and deep solar minima of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” Those earlier minima routinely racked up 200 to 300 spotless days per year.

Some solar physicists are welcoming the lull.

“This gives us a chance to study the sun without the complications of sunspots,” says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Right now we have the best instrumentation in history looking at the sun. There is a whole fleet of spacecraft devoted to solar physics–SOHO, Hinode, ACE, STEREO and others. We’re bound to learn new things during this long solar minimum.”

As an example he offers helioseismology: “By monitoring the sun’s vibrating surface, helioseismologists can probe the stellar interior in much the same way geologists use earthquakes to probe inside Earth. With sunspots out of the way, we gain a better view of the sun’s subsurface winds and inner magnetic dynamo.””There is also the matter of solar irradiance,” adds Pesnell. “Researchers are now seeing the dimmest sun in their records. The change is small, just a fraction of a percent, but significant. Questions about effects on climate are natural if the sun continues to dim.”

Pesnell is NASA’s project scientist for the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a new spacecraft equipped to study both solar irradiance and helioseismic waves. Construction of SDO is complete, he says, and it has passed pre-launch vibration and thermal testing. “We are ready to launch! Solar minimum is a great time to go.”

Coinciding with the string of blank suns is a 50-year record low in solar wind pressure, a recent discovery of the Ulysses spacecraft. (See the Science@NASA story Solar Wind Loses Pressure.) The pressure drop began years before the current minimum, so it is unclear how the two phenomena are connected, if at all. This is another mystery for SDO and the others.

Who knew the blank sun could be so interesting?

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160 Responses to NASA: Sun is “blankety blankest” it’s been in the Space Age

  1. Neil Crafter says:

    2008 could have 290 spotless days – but this is unremarkable compared to the 200 to 300 spotless days of the minima of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Huh?

  2. As of Sept. 27, 2008, the sun had been blank, i.e., had no visible sunspots, on 200 days of the year. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to 1954, three years before the launch of Sputnik, when the sun was blank 241 times.
    Silly statement as one should compare equal lengths of time, and the are still 95 days to go in 2008. Take that into account and the ‘projected’ count of blank days should be 200*366/(366-95) = 270 …
    Also, remember that 1954 was the minimum before one of the largest sunspot cycles ever recorded, so don’t extrapolate from a quiet Sun to a coming low cycle.

  3. Tilo Reber says:

    I’m kind of curious about how long it will take for Lief to tell us that everything is normal, and how long it will take before he will consider this minimum to be exceptional.

  4. Neil Crafter (15:06:54) :
    2008 could have 290 spotless days – but this is unremarkable compared to the 200 to 300 spotless days of the minima of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Huh?
    1810 didn’t have a single day with spots, so 365 spotless days. That’s what he meant.

  5. moptop says:

    I like to use your images of the sun to find specks on my screen.

    “Questions about effects on climate are natural if the sun continues to dim.” -Pesnell.

    I wonder if Pesnell is already cleaning out his desk at NASA. There are no questions. We already know the answers. our faith in the scientific method says that our hunches and judgements cannot be far wrong. Get a clue Pesnell. When observation undermines your predictions, it is not the time to quake, it is time to dig in your heels deeper!

  6. edcon says:

    This is interesting but isn’t the total accumulated number of spotless days (now exceeding 400) more important?

  7. John-X says:

    “Questions about effects on climate are natural if the sun continues to dim.”

    Dean Pesnell, be careful. At GSFC, you’re (organizationally) awfully close to GISS and James Hansen…

    and “AGW” has not yet fallen into the pit of public ridicule it’s headed for this winter.

  8. John Nicklin says:

    Yup, not remarkable, nothing to see here, move along.

  9. John-X says:

    Story’s author, Dr. Tony Phillips:

    “Solar minima this deep and long are common in the historical record and do not represent a fundamental breakdown of the sun’s 11-year activity cycle”

    I wonder, how do he know?

    When has there been a “fundamental breakdown of the sun’s 11-year activity cycle” and how would we recognize it if this WERE one?

  10. David says:

    Re Leif Svalgaard (15:16:01) :

    Leif; just curious, did you adjust sun spots up by a %, and if so how did you adjust 1810?

  11. DR says:

    It appears the more that is learned, the less is known.

  12. Tilo Reber (15:14:12) :
    I’m kind of curious about how long it will take for Leif to tell us that everything is normal, and how long it will take before he will consider this minimum to be exceptional.
    Depends on what ‘normal’ is. With only a score of well-observed solar cycles, it is very hard to define ‘normal’. There have been several minima that were quieter.
    What is so unusual about this minimum is the amount of interest it has aroused and the amount of hardware we have watching it. That is exciting.

  13. John-X says:

    In this story, and the one back in July

    ” What’s Wrong with the Sun? (Nothing)”

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/08/13/spotless-days-400-and-counting/

    the author, Dr. Phillips sounds like the person he’s trying to reassure is himself.

  14. David (15:32:36) :
    Leif; just curious, did you adjust sun spots up by a %, and if so how did you adjust 1810?
    I adjust by a ‘factor’, e.g. 1.15 [also +15%, if you want %], so 0 * 1.15 = 0. This type of adjustment may not be valid for very small sunspot numbers [where it does matter much anyway] as the sunspot number has this discontinuity from 0 to 11.

  15. DR (15:36:21) :
    It appears the more that is learned, the less is known.
    No, the more questions we know to ask.

  16. edcon says:

    I don’t know about a break down of the sun’s 11 year activity cycle but there was a so called lost cycle in the beginning of the Dalton Minimum.

  17. John-X (15:39:53) :
    Ithe author, Dr. Phillips sounds like the person he’s trying to reassure is himself.
    Yes, he is on record for supporting the Dikpati/Hathaway prediction of a very large cycle so is [like Hathaway] concerned about the lack of spots so far. [although he shouldn't necessarily be: the very quiet year 1954 was followed by the very large cycle #19].

  18. edcon (15:45:08) :
    but there was a so called lost cycle in the beginning of the Dalton Minimum.
    No, there is no good evidence for that. On the contrary, 10Be data shows no trace of ‘the lost cycle’. Geomagnetic data also does not support this claim, which is a very old one [goes back to Faye in the 1870s].

  19. Leon Brozyna says:

    I don’t know. When I go blank it usually happens at the worst possible time, though it is a very interesting experience at the very least.

  20. Tom in Florida says:

    Wouldn’t the number of consecutive blank days be more important than overall days?

  21. Sean says:

    The plot above would be more interesting if it showed the number of spotless days in the minimum between each solar cycle and to go back at least 150 years. That would really show where this quiet period ranked.

  22. Leif Svalgaard (15:42:44) :
    correction, of course:
    David (15:32:36) :
    Leif; just curious, did you adjust sun spots up by a %, and if so how did you adjust 1810?
    I adjust by a ‘factor’, e.g. 1.15 [also +15%, if you want %], so 0 * 1.15 = 0. This type of adjustment may not be valid for very small sunspot numbers [where it does not matter much anyway] as the sunspot number has this discontinuity from 0 to 11.

  23. Fernando says:

    Dr Leif, please:
    Today, What your deadline?
    Dr Leif speaking:…. This is a significant delay.(C24)
    FM

  24. Magnus says:

    “Dalton” or “Maunder”?

    When does this solar cycle becomes longer than the solar cycle in the end of the 18th century which “started” the Dalton Minimum? Late this year, or later?

    Isn’t solar cycle legth a “fair” kind of temperature proxy, or is solar Minimum length a better one?

  25. A.Syme says:

    I 1957 I signed up (at age 13!) to be an official aurora borealis observer for the IGY (International Geophysical Year) it was the height of my scientific career . I remember toward the end of the year there was a call to do another geophysical year during the solar minimum, The Year of the Quiet Sun. I cannot find any info that this was actually done. Does anyone out there have an info on this?

  26. Magnus says:

    Tom. I guess not… The number of consecutive days should depend on distribution, which I guess is somewhat arbitrary.

    Booth 2007 and 2008 gets medals; gold and bronze respectively. A bit scary…

  27. John-X says:

    edcon (15:45:08) :

    “but there was a so called lost cycle in the beginning of the Dalton Minimum.”

    I think Jan Janssens gave that idea a fair treatment.

    http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/MSCwebEng.pdf

    I think you really have to argue for the existence of something like midget cycles, and if you do that for the alleged missing cycle between 4 and 5, then you also have to treat similar patterns as also being midget cycles, and so start combing the sunspot records for them.

  28. John-X says:

    Magnus (16:24:07) :

    ” Isn’t solar cycle length a “fair” kind of temperature proxy, or is solar Minimum length a better one? ”

    Leif will say “Neither.”

    And it is quite true that correlations between solar activity and climate are just that, correlations.

    A few physical mechanisms have been proposed to explain the correlations, but none has been proven.

    It’s going to become “obvious” to everyone this winter that the inactive sun is responsible for colder climate, just as it is “obvious” to so many now that human activities cause warming.

    It’ll still take several years for the supertanker of grant money to turn from “man-made global warming” to actual climate research.

  29. Fernando (16:23:03) :
    Dr Leif, please:
    Today, What your deadline?
    Dr Leif speaking:…. This is a significant delay.(C24)

    You lost me…

    Magnus (16:24:07) :
    “Dalton” or “Maunder”?
    When does this solar cycle becomes longer than the solar cycle in the end of the 18th century which “started” the Dalton Minimum? Late this year, or later?
    That cycle went from 1784.2 to 1798.5 for a length of 14.3 years, so we still have a ways to go [except that the old data are not all that accurate...]

    Isn’t solar cycle legth a “fair” kind of temperature proxy, or is solar Minimum length a better one?
    none of them any any good.

    30
    09
    2008
    A.Syme (16:30:40) :
    I 1957 I signed up (at age 13!) to be an official aurora borealis observer for the IGY (International Geophysical Year) it was the height of my scientific career . I remember toward the end of the year there was a call to do another geophysical year during the solar minimum, The Year of the Quiet Sun. I cannot find any info that this was actually done. Does anyone out there have an info on this?

  30. I forgot you:
    A.Syme (16:30:40) :
    The Year of the Quiet Sun. I cannot find any info that this was actually done. Does anyone out there have an info on this?
    There was such an effort: IQSY, google that

  31. Chris D. says:

    I wonder what today’s count of spotless days would be if we were using the same instruments, methods and definitions that were used in 1810?

  32. John-X (16:38:32) :
    I think you really have to argue for the existence of something like midget cycles
    There are always ‘bumps’ in the any record. what is important here is whether the magnetic field changed polarity, and it didn’t as per the cosmic ray record.

  33. Alan S. Blue says:

    If we choose a two-year period as our timebase, how does 2007-2008 stack up?

    I mean, it clearly crushes the recent years, but how does the current 24 month period rank versus the longer historical record?

  34. Bill Illis says:

    Spotless days for 2008 looks like it will rival the period of 1911 to 1913 (200 to 300 spotless days) in which temperatures were 1.0C lower than today – the coldest sustained period of time in Hadley’s temperature dataset going back to 1850.

    Hopefully the currently high spotless day count doesn’t last for another two years (although 2007 is already in the top 10 spotless day years so maybe we are already into year 2 of the high counts.)

  35. Kim Mackey says:

    Well, assuming that Sept. 30 is spotless, as well as October 1st, and cycle 24 will have more spotless days (447) than solar cycle 19 (446) according to Janssen’s website.( http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Spotless/Spotless.html)

    cycle 24 will then have more spotless days than any cycle since 17, about 75 years. Another 120 days of spotlessness would be needed to beat cycle 17, at 568.

    While it is certainly possible that cycle 24 will be a big cycle like 19, I’m confident that Dr. Svalgaard’s research is more correct than Dr. Dikpati’s and that solar cycle 24 will have a maximum smoothed sunspot number somewhere between 50-85. In some ways I am hoping for a Maunder minimum, since those tend to be rare and we could learn more interesting science. Tough, possibly, on the human race if there is a correlation between a Grand Minimum and global cooling, but still nice for science.

  36. niteowl says:

    Maybe the Sun is just taking a break, after a pretty busy half-century. The hurricane guys have their ACE index (Accumulated Cyclone Energy) to compare periods of activity…perhaps an Accumulated Smoothed Sunspot index might have a bit to do with higher temps in the late 20th century (almost 50% higher than any other “half-century” measured).

    http://i36.photobucket.com/albums/e7/niteowl496/AccumulatedSSN.gif

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  38. Robert Bateman says:

    We didn’t have the data then we do now, so we really don’t know what this relates to, except that it’s far from over. Spotless days are only 1 statistic in a sea of many likewise taking us back a long time, some to 200 yrs ago, some to only 50.
    Summary: All we know is a “so far” comparison.

  39. P. Hager says:

    The chart is a bit deceiving, for solar minima that span multiple years, the totals are different.
    1911-1913 is over 750 days,
    2007-2008 is over 350 days,
    1985-1986 is about 200 days
    1975-1976 is about 200 days
    1964-1965 looks to be just under 200 days.
    These are estimates based on the chart, real data would be nice.
    A better graphic would be the number of spotless days for each solar minima.

  40. SteveSadlov says:

    Hard times,
    Are coming,
    Your town….

  41. Smokey says:

    Leif Svalgaard:

    DR (15:36:21) :
    “It appears the more that is learned, the less is known.”

    No, the more questions we know to ask.

    Maybe a better analogy: knowledge is like an expanding balloon. As knowledge increases, the area outside the balloon — the unknown — also increases.

  42. actuator says:

    200 years is a long time in the history of a 5 Billion year old star? The “so far” comparison is like a nanosecond yet creates amazing speculation about Sol and climate. The ice age is coming baby, but humans are not the cause.

  43. P. Hager (19:22:24) :
    A better graphic would be the number of spotless days for each solar minima.
    Here are my counts. They start after the 10th spotless day for other reasons]. So you may want to add 10 to each.
    end of cycle#
    6 1457
    7 479
    8 464
    9 646
    10 397
    11 1018
    12 728
    13 924
    14 1015
    15 525
    16 559
    17 260
    18 437
    19 218
    20 263
    21 264
    22 300
    23 429

    you can see the graphic here

    These numbers are very sensitive to the [uncertain] visibility of small spots early on, so should be taken with a lot a salt.

  44. Tom in Texas says:

    Is it just me, or is Leif’s graph scarey?
    What’s with all the 23-24 peaks?

  45. Tom in Texas (20:13:34) :
    Is it just me, or is Leif’s graph scarey?
    What’s with all the 23-24 peaks?

    They are not any bigger than many of the other peaks. They go up and down a lot. That is just because for the last several years we have have bunches of spots from SC23 [that drag the plot down] separated by periods of calm [that pull the graph up to a peak].

  46. Tom in Texas says:

    Leif: What are the areas under the curves for the 1st 30 months?

  47. Tom in Texas (20:29:40) :
    What are the areas under the curves for the 1st 30 months?
    sum @ 30 months
    6 144
    7 188
    8 209
    9 79
    10 94
    11 134
    12 223
    13 145
    14 254
    15 328
    16 353
    17 240
    18 314
    19 142
    20 172
    21 248
    22 223
    23 297
    median 209
    what is so special about 30 months?

  48. Robert Bateman says:

    “So far” as in ongoing spotless days continuing to stack up, where she stops, nobody knows.
    Another year of this is not out of reason, and neither is another 30 days and it all ends.

  49. Tom in Texas says:

    Leif: Unless I misunderstand your graph, the 23-24 minimum looks to be about 30 months old. Just wanted to compare where we are at now vs previous cycles. Looks like only 15 & 16 have 23 beat.

  50. P. Hager says:

    Leif Svalgaard (19:46:30) :

    Thanks for the summary. Based on your numbers, Cycle 23 is exceptional only when compared to cycles 19 through 22. When compared to the entire set, cycle 23 still has fewer spotless days than over half of the cycles from 6 to 22. It looks likes cycle 23 still needs at least another 51 spotless days before it has more spotless days than half of the cycles from cycle 6 on.

  51. P. Hager (21:10:30) :
    It looks likes cycle 23 still needs at least another 51 spotless days before it has more spotless days than half of the cycles from cycle 6 on.
    But remember that I cautioned about the early cycles, that may be missing some Tiny Tims…

  52. Roger Carr says:

    Leon Brozyna (15:57:56) : “I don’t know. When I go blank it usually happens at the worst possible time…”
    Great line, Leon!

  53. Patrick Henry says:

    Add one more day ….

    Yesterday’s “proto-sunspots” have faded away leaving the sun blank.
    http://www.spaceweather.com/

  54. David Archibald says:

    http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Spotless/Spotlessallcycles.png

    If you look at Jan Janssens’ raw graph, above, this minimum is on track to have about 1,000 spotless days, and the month of solar minimum is still six months off.

    It is good to see that NASA is putting out weekly solar updates now. The solar physics community sees the money going to AGW research and believe that it is rightfully theirs.

  55. manfred says:

    Like the old Motörhead song:

    The age of space

    Sorry couldn’t help it…

  56. Magnus says:

    niteowl: “Maybe the Sun is just taking a break…”

    It probably need its trips to the sun too… eh?

  57. Caleb says:

    Lief,

    You have to admit all this fuss about the sun gets you a lot more attention than you got in the old days.

    Let’s sing; all together now:

    “Momma always told me not to look in the eyes of the sun,
    But Momma,
    That’s where the fun is!”

  58. Renaud says:

    Is there anybody who is comparing like for like? It seems that now with modern instrument we are able to see any tiny spot, which I guess was not the case 100 or 200 years ago.

    Is there therefore any study made to compare like for like and being able to at least have some proxy comparison for these spotless days. I remember reading that the first person who count the spotless days was an English and that was without any instrument. Are we doing the same to compare?

    Otherwise thank you for your great site and congratulations for your number of hit.

  59. Graeme Rodaughan says:

    @Smokey,

    As the balloon increases, so does the surface area — I.e more contact with the unknown. For a given stable set of resources (scientists, engineers, etc) the rate of increase should slow as the balloon increases…

    Unfortunately the balloon sometimes deflates rapidly – check European dark ages.

    BTW is the balloon increasingly inflated by “Hot Air”.

    Cheers G

  60. Mary Hinge says:

    actuator (19:42:43) :

    “The ice age is coming baby….”

    Back to the ’70′s with you!! We had all the nonsense of ‘a coming Ice Age ‘ then. See you’ve got into the groove with the lingo man…..’All pray to the Sun God, love and peace, flower power etc.’
    When you get your visa join us in the 21st century!!

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  62. leebertarian says:

    The # of cumulative spotless days itself is impressive. Janssens shows that the spotless rate of increase is edging toward the outer standard deviation of all recorded solar cycles at least since SC 10 (circa 1855).

  63. leebertarian says:

    P. Hager:

    The cumulative spotless days are in excess of 400: http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Spotless/Spotless.html#Evolution

  64. leebertarian says:

    Leif:

    I understand restraint in making bold statements about cycle minima when seemingly big minima like 1954′s are taken into account, but can this one be reasonably characterized as being unique in terms of solar wind & magnetic output (as opposed to 1954)? Or are those data just too sketchy?

  65. John-X says:

    SIDC Monthly sunspot number is out…

    1.1 for September – vs. 0.5 for August

    The number has DOUBLED in one month ! This must be a tipping point!

  66. Rob says:

    Leif Svalgaard says

    But remember that I cautioned about the early cycles, that may be missing some Tiny Tims…

    If the tiny Tims were not counted in early times why should they be counted today, if you count these tiny Times surely you then cannot compare early data with recent modern data. Perhaps the tiny Tims do not matter and should be discounted.

  67. Bruce Cobb says:

    actuator:
    “The ice age is coming baby….”

    Mary: Back to the ’70’s with you!! We had all the nonsense of ‘a coming Ice Age ‘ then. … When you get your visa join us in the 21st century!!

    Prior to entry, of course, you will be required to view “An Inconvenient Truth”, and to repeat the AGW mantra of “the planet has a fever” and be able to cite chapter and verse how man is to blame, this is a planetary crisis, and we must act immediately (“we” meaning the developed countries, especially the U.S).

  68. Robert Bateman says:

    Proto sunspots. Kind of like proto galaxies, before the real deal evolved. in a year or two, we can expect real sunspots.
    The total amt. of spotless days is what takes us right into Lewis & Clark timeframe, 200 yrs. back. We are almost ‘there’.
    Poor old flux, it looked like it was going to get out of it’s funk, but now is sunk back to baseline.

  69. George Patch says:

    Who was monitoring the sun in 1810?

    How many monitoring stations? Where were they?

    How did they do it? I guess what I’m getting at is can we replicate 1810 monitoring stations and compare their results with today’s monitoring? We should be able to adjust the 1810 numbers! Interesting thought… there is not a temperature station in the country that is not “adjusted” for some reason, yet the 1810 solar observations are perfect!

  70. J W says:

    stumbled upon!
    not related to sun but NOAA
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/news/2008/090808a.html
    PSD researcher Marty Hoerling gave an invited presentation entitled, “Climate Change in the Grain Belt,” on September 10 at the 2008 Corn and Climate Conference in Ames, IA. His presentation focused on the fact that since 1895 there has not been a warming of temperatures in the Corn Belt during the growing season.

  71. leebertarian (05:27:53) :
    can this one be reasonably characterized as being unique in terms of solar wind & magnetic output (as opposed to 1954)? Or are those data just too sketchy?
    The solar wind is now where it was 100 years ago and the sunspot minimum is comparable to 50 years ago, so not unique on any of these counts. Still interesting.

  72. Steve Berry says:

    Has anyone set up a web site listing all those who have made predictions about global warming, or are simply global warming believers? I speak of not just the big bears like Al Gore, but also Jason Lowe of the UK Met Office http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/oct/01/climatechange.carbonemissions Someone should list ALL these people, so that when the globe continues to cool we can at least point at them and laugh.

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  74. Darren says:

    Niteowl,

    perhaps an Accumulated Smoothed Sunspot index might have a bit to do with higher temps in the late 20th century

    Have to be careful if you acronoym Accumulated Smooth Sunspot. If you start batting around the term ‘ASS index’ having to do with higher temps in the late 20th Century, there are public figures with Oscars and recent passport stamps from the UK (and a goodie bag from Greenpeace) that might take offense.

  75. John-X says:

    Steve Berry (06:47:54) :

    ” Has anyone set up a web site listing all those who have made predictions about global warming, or are simply global warming believers? I speak of not just the big bears like Al Gore, but also Jason Lowe of the UK Met Office

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/oct/01/climatechange.carbonemissions

    Someone should list ALL these people, so that when the globe continues to cool we can at least point at them and laugh. ”

    We ABSOLUTELY need to be taking names.

    Remember IRACS – the archetypal response of an orthodoxy to new ideas

    Ignore

    Ridicule

    Attack

    Copy

    Steal

    - IF – a substantial climate response due to solar effects is conclusively established, some of these “man-made global warming” fanatics will get to the STEAL phase and suddenly remember that the Sun-Climate relationship was their idea to begin with!

  76. John-X says:

    J W (06:25:21) :

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/news/2008/090808a.html

    PSD researcher Marty Hoerling gave an invited presentation entitled, “Climate Change in the Grain Belt,”

    ” Since there has not yet been any warming in this region, it is unclear what, if any, action should be taken. ”

    Are you crazy?

    The temperature has NOT changed since 1895 !

    We must taken action IMMEDIATELY to prevent the imminent warming !

  77. Jeffrey says:

    How many tiny Tims where there? A few, shouldn’t make a big difference during this transit…

  78. Stormy says:

    I have a question.

    If you scroll down on this page:
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/11jul_solarcycleupdate.htm

    There’s a graphic that shows the solar minimum of 1933 was
    similar to that of 2008.
    But the following year – 1934 – was the warmest year of the century.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2007/08/08/1998-no-longer-the-hottest-year-on-record-in-usa/

    How come ?

    REPLY: This is one of the places where a sunspot to climate link doesn’t correlate. It may be that there needs to be a prolonged period of solar inactivity, and that period didn’t meet the threshold. It may be that something else was happening then that we don’t have data on. We simply just don’t know much about the sun beyond sunspot data and basic irradiance measurements during that time.

  79. Gary Gulrud says:

    “There’s a graphic that shows the solar minimum of 1933 was
    similar to that of 2008.
    But the following year – 1934 – was the warmest year of the century. ”

    “It may be that something else was happening then that we don’t have data on.”

    One signficant difference we do have documented: google PDO & AMO and look for links at NOAA.

    These important oceanic oscillations went positive simultaneously at the beginning of the ’30s and bequeathed the warmest decade in recent centuries in both Hemispheres.

    As D’Aleo has essayed, changes in solar insolation and these two oscillations, considered together, account for 80% or more of global temperature change under PCA, in that order of importance. Unfortunately, PCA has its limitations; ICA would be preferred but these two factors are clearly not independent.

  80. Gary Gulrud says:

    “The cumulative spotless days are in excess of 400″

    And should approach 600 before Rmax in 2013.

  81. terry46 says:

    Anthony i’m wondering how far back into 2007 was the sun this blank? I mean did it start in nov or dec or jan of this year.Also what is considered small sunspots today back during the 1800′s would they have equipment that could see the speck we see today?

  82. Steve M. says:

    Stormy: Let me throw in my 2 cents worth on that. This is my opinion…no particular science behind it, other than my common sense. I wonder if this has been studied? Please anyone with information let me know.

    Oceans take longer to heat up than land. So, what you might have is “heat storage”. (I suppose even land may store some heat) Apply less heat, and these “heat stores” continue to keep the planet warm. And like the reply says, the decrease in solar activity wasn’t long enough to make a difference.

    I guess a simple way for me to say this is: heat an object, and let it start to cool. Heat it again with equal heat and time, eventually the object is pretty hot, and continues to radiate heat if you lessen the heat applied.

    Like I said though, I’d like to know if there’s real data on this out there.

  83. evanjones says:

    I just plugged in a rough plot for multidecadal cycles into excel, looking at the big six from 1900-date and 1948 to date, both separately and equally weighted (and, yes, I know they need to be weighted proportiobately, not equally).

    The results are quite interesting.

    I think I’ll email my preliminary results to the Rev . . .

  84. George E. Smith says:

    Interesting that 1954 was a blank year. (It does plot as a minimum in Willie Soon’s “Maunder Minimum” book). There you will also see that the 1957/58 sunspot maximum; the IGY maximum, was the all time absolute sunspot maximum ever recorded (since 1610) at almost 200. The previous three cycles were about 150, 120, 80 going backwards, which explains why they thought 1957/8 might be interesting enough to plan the IGY for that time. Well that was the start of the modern global warming era and the Mauna Loa CO2 record.

    The peaks have been in the 100-150 range ever since 57/8 during the warming period, but it looks like that age is now all over. We still have three months to go in 2008 so with 200 flat days under our belt, we probably will break the 1954 record of 241.

    As for the comment above re the 1933 minimum, that falls between the 80 and 120 peak events mentioned above so the sun was definitely in some sort of cooking up phase, since the 4 peaks before that 80 count were all in the 60-100 range but averaging 80 back to the 1883 peak. So the sun was definitely in a change mode in 1933 so I wouldn’t be surprised by a 1934 all time high. It would be interesting to check records for 1934 to see if there were some unusual incidence of super lcean air, low volcano activity, anything that might inhibit cloud nucleation that year. That would be my guess as to what happened in 1934; unusuallty low cloud formation for as yet unknown reasons (by me anyway).

    George

  85. Jean Meeus says:

    Stormy wrote:

    “I have a question.
    If you scroll down on this page:
    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/11jul_solarcycleupdate.htm
    There’s a graphic that shows the solar minimum of 1933 was
    similar to that of 2008.
    But the following year – 1934 – was the warmest year of the century. ”

    Yes, but 1934 was only ONE year that was warm; the other years in that period were “normal”.

  86. Gary Gulrud says:

    “- IF – a substantial climate response due to solar effects is conclusively established, some of these “man-made global warming” fanatics will get to the STEAL phase and suddenly remember that the Sun-Climate relationship was their idea to begin with!”

    I take SCR, for Solar Climate Response (John-X appears to have coined the acronym), and AGW to be essentially incomparable, are not in reciprocal relation, with the volcanic wildcard equinanimous.

  87. C Soderholm says:

    Isn’t it obvious that global warming is causing the reduction in sun spots?

  88. Gary Gulrud says:

    “this minimum is on track to have about 1,000 spotless days,”

    Oh dear, I’m barely half brave. Low testosterone.

  89. Gary Gulrud says:

    “re the 1933 minimum, that falls between the 80 and 120 peak events mentioned above so the sun was definitely in some sort of cooking up phase,”

    Good point. Flaring, for example, often peaks on the run up to or down from Rmax. Equating sunspots with activity is simplistic.

  90. Gary Gulrud (10:49:39) :
    Flaring, for example, often peaks on the run up to or down from Rmax. Equating sunspots with activity is simplistic.
    Equating flaring with activity is equally [or more] simplistic.

  91. EDT says:

    Leif,

    I was hoping to clarify one minor point. You mention numerous times that the sun is “interesting” right now. If, instead of current activity, the sun’s physical observables were all right on the mean values for the past few centuries, would you still find the sun “interesting”?

    :)

  92. John-X says:

    Gary Gulrud (10:34:24) :

    ” I take SCR, for Solar Climate Response (John-X appears to have coined the acronym) ”

    I believe you’re thinking of SGC – Solar Global Cooling.

    That is purely a Svalgaardism.

    I’m not to the “S” phase of IRACS, just the “C.”

  93. EDT (11:57:58) :
    You mention numerous times that the sun is “interesting” right now. If, instead of current activity, the sun’s physical observables were all right on the mean values for the past few centuries, would you still find the sun “interesting”?
    The Sun is ‘interesting’ for this reason:
    With modern instruments we have been able to measure many solar quantities with great precision and establish relationships between them. We do not know how well those relationships hold under low activity conditions. If the sun continues at a low point for a while, we can calibrate those relationships. That is of great interest. From a strictly scientific point of view another Maunder minimum would be ideal.

  94. actuator says:

    Mary Hinge,
    I didn’t say the ice age was coming in the immediate future honey. There will be one, and another and another etc. we just don’t know when and it probably won’t be sudden, but incremental. Oh, and I was in the 21st Century before it got here babe.

  95. Austin says:

    Actuator Dahling,

    Most of the evidence shows that many climate changes come on and end very rapidly. By rapidly I mean 10-100 years.

    The younger Dryas event had a 10 year swing period at both ends when temps changed by 10-15 degrees C in just ten years. In effect, Scotland and Ireland became unihabitable in a decade!

    “The Younger Dryas saw a rapid return to glacial conditions in the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere between 12,900–11,500 years before present (BP)[5] in sharp contrast to the warming of the preceding interstadial deglaciation. The transitions each occurred over a period of a decade or so.”

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

    There is lots of evidence that many of the other transitions occurred rapidly as well.

  96. Robert Wood says:

    Darn fingers don’t type proper. Sorry for the typos

  97. Don says:

    I have a Question for you all. The last mini Ice age along with no sun spots also had increased volcanic activity. Could a lowered magnetic field form the sun be the cause of increased volcanic activity here on earth?

    Don

  98. Clearly, what we need is a SunSpot Bailout Plan. Just as banks are too frightened to lend each other money, and this shows up in the LIBOR, Sunspots are just too frightened to appearm, and this shows up in the Solar Wind crunch.

    This is a clarion call for Earthlings to put aside their petty politicking and Do Something. Anything. I’m sure that if we all looked under our mattresses, we could come up with a few Starter Sunspecks. Or at least some dust bunnies.

    Suggestions, true scientists?

  99. Steve Berry says:

    “Scotland and Ireland became unihabitable in a decade!”

    Have you been to either lately? Same then as now, I’m afraid!
    …Just joking boys and girls!

  100. Steve Berry says:

    Huge increase in Arctic ice yesterday http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/seaice/extent/plot.csv

  101. Don (14:03:19) :
    I have a Question for you all. The last mini Ice age along with no sun spots also had increased volcanic activity. Could a lowered magnetic field from the sun be the cause of increased volcanic activity here on earth?
    I don’t think this is plausible.
    You can see more about volcanoes etc at:
    http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/news/2008ScienceMeeting/doc/Session4/S4_03_Crowley.pdf

  102. Gary Gulrud says:

    “Equating flaring with activity is equally [or more] simplistic.”

    Whew, missed it by that much! Does simplicity spatter?

    “Could a lowered magnetic field form the sun be the cause of increased volcanic activity here on earth?”

    One of the recent solar threads provided a link to a recent paper.

  103. Gary Gulrud (14:55:36) :
    “Equating flaring with activity is equally [or more] simplistic.”
    Whew, missed it by that much! Does simplicity spatter?

    Now that you know, you won’t be making that mistake again.

  104. leebert says:

    Leif:

    The solar wind is now where it was 100 years ago and the sunspot minimum is comparable to 50 years ago, so not unique on any of these counts. Still interesting.

    Quite. Darn those pesky sunspot faculae, not causing as much variable output as was once thought…. ;-)

    So if the sun isn’t as involved in the stabilized temperature trend, then the long-term trend lines:

    http://i32.tinypic.com/28h3dqh.jpg

    &

    http://i27.tinypic.com/25fuk8w.jpg

    provide some comfort while offering a continued mystery. Which I think is a good thing!

    The clerics are wrong, the apostates are wrong & the answer is still “out there.”

  105. Two questions for the experts:

    After the Eemian interglacial the Earth cooled rather steadily for 100,000 years. It was not until the Milankovich maximum insolation point was approached that the deep freeze suddenly broke. The Younger Dryas was a period of radical changes that happened during the Big Thaw. For the last 10,000 years (post the maximum insolation point) global temperatures have been steadily cooling. By “steady” I mean without the radical changes of the Younger Dryas.

    Hence one suspects that cooling is self-reinforcing, and only when insolation increases to a threshold level does the warming happen, relatively suddenly. One might also conclude that radical changes such as the Younger Dryas are rare events that occur only when the self-reinforcing cooling is tipped by increased insolation approaching the maximum level.

    Unless, of course, there are cases other than the Younger Dryas when radical global temperature change occurred. But I know of none, other than at the onsets of the Eemian and other interglacials. In those case it appears that a steady state was perturbed, wide swings up and down occurred, a maximum temperature took hold, and the system then settled down to a steady cooling again (with minor, not major fluctuations).

    Question 1: Is that correct? Or are there other occasions in the paleo-climate record where sudden major fluctuations occurred, other than at or near Milankovich maximums?

    The Milankovich cycles are insolation cycles. That is, Milankovich calculated theoretical insolation based on eccentricities in the Earth’s orbit. Insolation, then, appears to be the driver of Ice Ages (or more properly, interglacials).

    Question 2: Is that correct? Please elucidate.

  106. Dennis Sharp says:

    Mike Dubrasich,
    The Younger dryas was caused by an interruption of the north atlantic current by melting ice from the Greenland area. All that fresh water didn’t allow the river of warm water to sink and continue flowing. When you warm the planet quickly and there is still a lot of ice to melt, you get these down spikes in temperature since this current distibutes heat world wide. The transition in western Europe was especially fast because Europe only stays warm and wet when winds blow over this warm water and then over to Europe.

  107. Robert Bateman says:

    Twinkle, twinkle, little spot,
    how much we wonder what you got,
    When Solar Winds stop thier blowin’ way,
    those little spots just fade away.

    Poof.

  108. Dennis — At that time the entire Laurentide Ice Sheet was melting, right? And that was the source of the fresh water flood, right? So it is likely that a shut down of the N Atlantic current only occurs at such catastrophic times, i.e. sudden onset of an interglacial warmth after 100,000 years of ice build up.

    Ergo, such an event (stoppage of the N Atlantic current) is unlikely to occur even if the relatively paltry Greenland ice sheet was to suddenly melt, which is also an unlikely event.

    What I am saying is that using the abrupt changes that occurred during the Younger Dryas as a model or example of “common” or “possible” temperature fluctuations in our Late Holocene is a trifle science fictionish. The initial conditions are quite different now. Right?

    I only ask because the dire reports of looming catastrophe from AGW sometimes strike me as unreasonable.

  109. leif svaalgaard (imposter) says:

    [THIS PERSON HAS BEEN PERMANENTLY BANNED FROM THE BLOG FOR IMPERSONATING DR. SVALGAARD - ANTHONY]

  110. Gary Gulrud says:

    “Now that you know, you won’t be making that mistake again.”

    No mistake, let me dumb this down.

    Hypothesis: For all x, x implies y.

    Induction: There exists an x that does not imply y.

    Conclusion: The hypothesis is false.

    You simply misconstrued the English, sorry.

  111. leebert (17:11:42) :
    “The solar wind is now where it was 100 years ago and the sunspot minimum is comparable to 50 years ago, so not unique on any of these counts.
    There is, however, an interesting, and important, difference. At the very deep solar minimum in 1954, the solar polar magnetic fields were very strong [resulting in the very strong solar cycle 19], but at the current minimum, the solar polar fields are very weak [thus predicting a very weak cycle 24].

  112. Jim Powell says:

    Dennis, Mike—I believe the Younger Dryas was caused by a piece of a comet hitting the Laurentide ice sheet 12, 900 years ago causing a spike in the temperatures an a huge influx of water then shutting down the THC.

    This theory is well developed and presented in “The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes”.

  113. Bill P says:

    Leif,

    You say, above: “With only a score of well-observed solar cycles, it is very hard to define ‘normal’. There have been several minima that were quieter.”

    Would you comment on the use of C14 records as a proxy for a sunspot numbers? My specific questions are below, but generally, I’m trying to understand something that I’ve seen asserted several times and which I have always considered settled science.

    Part of this if to understand how meaningful the periods labeled under the various “minima” titles? (Maunder, Sporer, Wolf, Oort, Roman)

    A Wiki recreation:

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Carbon-14_with_activity_labels.png

    Basically, I have two questions:

    1. Are C14 records acceptabe as proxies for sunspot numbers?

    2. Do you consider C14 records reference points for fluctuations of earth’s temperature?

    Thanks, Bill

    Comments form any reader knowledgeable about solar would be appreciated.

  114. Gary Gulrud says:

    “Comments form any reader knowledgeable about solar would be appreciated.”

    I don’t have Dr. S’ expertise, but I’d prefer 10Be as a cosmogenic proxy. On creation it rapidly precipitates out of the atmosphere and forms relatively inert oxides of Mg, Al, etc.

    Peaks in 14C on the ground seem to follow the peak in production in the stratosphere at high latitudes by 60 years. For such a chemically active element this poses problems in analysis.

  115. Steve M. says:

    Lief,
    Who’s predicting a weak cycle 24? Seems like everyone at NASA is expecting a cycle stronger than 23.

  116. Gary Gulrud (06:15:11) :
    No mistake
    Since it is not true, it is either an untruth or a mistake. You claim it is not a mistake…
    There is nothing ‘simplistic’ in asserting that sunspots are a good measure of solar activity, because they are. Flares on the other hand are not.

  117. Bill P (08:48:37) :
    Both 14C and 10Be are imperfect proxies, but with appropriate modeling of the their creation/deposition processes they can be used with caution, so:
    1. Are C14 records acceptabe as proxies for sunspot numbers?
    Qualified ‘yes’
    2. Do you consider C14 records reference points for fluctuations of earth’s temperature?
    No, what has 14C to do with temperature? Nothing.

    Gary Gulrud (09:30:32) :
    10Be as a cosmogenic proxy. On creation it rapidly precipitates out of the atmosphere and forms relatively inert oxides of Mg, Al, etc.
    Well, oxygen [not 10Be] forms oxides…

    With proper modeling as I said, both nuclei are usable. They both have problems. One problem with 10Be is that its deposition [e.g. in Greenland and Antarctica ice] is somewhat dependent on the climate and also on volcanic activity, that influences the aerosols 10Be attaches to. Large volcanic eruptions, like 1883 [Krakatoa], 1810-1815 [several, including Tambora], ~1700 [Hekla], severely distort the 10Be record.
    But with caution, both can be used. And, besides, we ain’t got much else.

  118. Steve M. (09:42:12) :
    Who’s predicting a weak cycle 24?
    I am, http://www.leif.org/research/Cycle%2024%20Smallest%20100%20years.pdf
    Seems like everyone at NASA is expecting a cycle stronger than 23
    They will probably continue to do that until the tiny maximum is nearly reached as they did last time:

    Estimating the size and timing of maximum amplitude for cycle 23 from its early cycle behavior
    Wilson, Robert M.; Hathaway, David H.; Reichmann, Edwin J.
    Journal of Geophysical Research, Volume 103, Issue A8, p. 17411-17418, year 1998.
    Abstract
    On the basis of the lowest observed smoothed monthly mean sunspot number, cycle 23 appears to have conventionally begun in May 1996, in conjunction with the first appearance of a new cycle, high-latitude spot group. Such behavior, however, is considered rather unusual, since, previously (based on the data-available cycles 12-22), the first appearance of a new cycle, high-latitude spot group has always preceded conventional onset by at least 3 months. Furthermore, accepting May 1996 as the official start for cycle 23 poses a dilemma regarding its projected size and timing of maximum amplitude. Specifically, from the maximum-minimum and amplitude-period relationships we infer that cycle 23 should be above average in size and a fast riser, with maximum amplitude occurring before May 2000 (being in agreement with projections for cycle 23 based on precursor information), yet from its initial languid rate of rise (during the first 6 months of the cycle) we infer that it should be below average in size and a slow riser, with maximum amplitude occurring after May 2000. The dilemma vanishes, however, when we use a slightly later-occurring onset. For example, using August 1996, a date associated with a local secondary minimum prior to the rapid rise that began shortly thereafter (in early 1997), we infer that the cycle 23 rate of rise is above that for the mean of cycles 1-22, the mean of cycles 10-22 (the modern era cycles), the mean of the modern era “fast risers,” and the largest of the modern era “slow risers” (i.e., cycle 20), thereby suggesting that cycle 23 will be both fast rising and above average in size, peaking before August 2000. Additionally, presuming cycle 23 to be a well-behaved fast-rising cycle (regardless of whichever onset date is used), we also infer that its maximum amplitude likely will measure about 144.0+/-28.8 (from the general behavior found for the bulk of modern era fast risers; i.e., 5 of 7 have had their maximum amplitude to lie within 20% of the mean curve for modern era fast risers). It is apparent, then, that sunspot number growth during 1998 will prove crucial for correctly establishing the size and shape of cycle 23.
    —-
    They hung in there to the bitter end…

  119. Gary Gulrud says:

    Re: 14C. The Thera eruption has been dated by archaeologic methods to 1425 A.D. +/- 50 years. Carbon 14 dating of local olive branches and Ice core data have more recently put it two centuries earlier. The problem arises in that 20% of ejecta from ultra-plinian eruptions are comprised of H20 and CO2 gas to support the column.

    This means that the atmospheric proportion of CO2 can fluctuate wildly, e.g., as was the case in 1816 following Tambora and an earlier, unidentified, 1812 eruption when the proportion jumped from 300 ppm to 450ppm, declining over the next two decades.

    As it happened, the century preceding 1600 AD saw multiple ultra-plinian eruptions in the Kamchatka-Aleutian chains. This, combined with the archaeologic certainty diminishes the value of 14C dating in this case.

    “There is nothing ’simplistic’ in asserting that sunspots are a good measure of solar activity, because they are. Flares on the other hand are not.”

    Nice dodge. No one implied flares were a ‘good’ measure, only that sunspots were not a ‘perfect’ measure. Compare once again Sept. 1996, following the May minimum with current data.

    If your parsing of logic weren’t so unreliable I might be persuaded you were being dishonest.

  120. Gary Gulrud (10:57:25) :
    This, combined with the archaeologic certainty diminishes the value of 14C dating in this case.
    It’s not about dating, as that can be done by counting tree rings and a reliable [to one year certainty] tree ring chronology goes back 10,000 years. It is, in fact, the error in the 14C date that gives us the proxy.

    Nice dodge. No one implied flares were a ‘good’ measure, only that sunspots were not a ‘perfect’ measure.
    You said ‘simplistic’, which is plain wrong. And sunspots are ‘perfect’ in the sense that they define solar activity.

    If your parsing of logic weren’t so unreliable I might be persuaded you were being dishonest.
    Is unworthy of comment, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  121. Gary Gulrud says:

    “a reliable [to one year certainty] tree ring chronology goes back 10,000 years.”

    Nonsense, dendrochronologies are proprietary, invariably use trees of a half-century or less in age, and their sequences are not uniquely assigned.

    “And sunspots are ‘perfect’ in the sense that they define solar activity.”

    So, you save this atomistic definition as your linch-pin following empty posturing as a logician. Well, your definition makes no sense in English to the interested public. Any measure of ‘activity’ that does not relate directly to energy output must fail to do so.

    Moreover, your technique in argument only serves to demonstrate my point.

  122. Steve M. says:

    Thanks Lief, of course your paper does not come up when I googled predictions…not really surprsing.

  123. Gary Gulrud (11:41:58) :
    “a reliable [to one year certainty] tree ring chronology goes back 10,000 years.”
    Nonsense, dendrochronologies are proprietary, invariably use trees of a half-century or less in age, and their sequences are not uniquely assigned.

    From Wikipedia:
    “Fully anchored chronologies which extend back more than 10,000 years exist for river oak trees from South Germany (from the Main and Rhine rivers).[1][2] Another fully anchored chronology which extends back 8500 years exists for the bristlecone pine in the Southwest US (White Mountains of California).[3] Furthermore, the mutual consistency of these two independent dendrochronological sequences has been confirmed by comparing their radiocarbon and dendrochronological ages.[4] In 2004 a new calibration curve INTCAL04 was internationally ratified for calibrated dates back to 26,000 Before Present (BP) based on an agreed worldwide data set of trees and marine sediments.[5]”

    “And sunspots are ‘perfect’ in the sense that they define solar activity.”
    So, you save this atomistic definition as your linch-pin following empty posturing as a logician. Well, your definition makes no sense in English to the interested public. Any measure of ‘activity’ that does not relate directly to energy output must fail to do so.

    Sunspots are the visual manifestations of solar magnetic fields. There is a very tight and direct relationship between the total magnetic flux and the sunspot number. The energy of the magnetic field is given by the square of the field strength, so there you have it. Not logic, just physics.

  124. Steve M. (12:20:38) :
    Thanks Lief, of course your paper does not come up when I googled predictions…not really surprsing.
    You should have tried:
    prediction svalgaard
    or
    smallest cycle in 100 years
    :-)

  125. Gary Gulrud says:

    “Not logic, just physics.”

    Leif, it was so obvious I was not using your esoteric definition that you did not ‘enforce’ it for several exchanges. Your demand that I use your definition now, to allow you to save face, is preposterous.

  126. John-X says:

    ” How Round is the Sun? ”

    http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/02oct_oblatesun.htm

    “… During years of high solar activity the sun develops a thin “cantaloupe skin” that significantly increases its apparent oblateness… “

  127. jmrSudbury says:

    terry46 (10:12:48), The minima for solar cycle 23 was expected to be in March 2006. There have been several cycle 23 spots and a few cycle 24 polarity spots since then. As of today, we have surpassed the 446 spotless days milestone in this minima. I don’t know if that count includes the first 10 spotless days though.

    Small sunspots? Sunspots are assigned a number. The small spots we recently saw were given a 1.1 sunspot number. The even smaller August spot was rated at 0.5.

    Back in the day, Galileo seems to have charted some quite small sunspots; however, without being able to time travel our current equipment back to his time, we will never really know how well the two methods of observation correlate.

    John M Reynolds

  128. Bill P says:

    Gary,

    Thanks for your reply.

  129. Bill P says:

    Leif,

    Thank you.

  130. Gary Gulrud (13:14:38) :
    Your demand that I use your definition now, to allow you to save face, is preposterous.
    I really don’t care what you use. My goal here is to inform the general readership and to warn against and correct, if possible, misconceptions and misrepresentations, and to promote the use of a civil and respectful tone.

  131. John-X (13:43:16) :
    “… During years of high solar activity the sun develops a thin “cantaloupe skin” that significantly increases its apparent oblateness… “
    And it is those ‘pimples’ that are responsible for most of the increase in TSI because we get to see ‘sideways’ into the hotter interior layers. Like in this image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Aa_large.jpg

  132. paminator says:

    There was an article in Physics Today a month or two ago by Scaffetta and West, discussing a link between solar activity and climate trends. The letters to the editor have been published today, and they are quite an interesting read, along with the reply from the authors.

    See the whole bunch here- http://ptonline.aip.org/journals/doc/PHTOAD-ft/vol_61/iss_10/10_1.shtml?type=PTALERT

  133. paminator (15:31:05) :
    There was an article in Physics Today a month or two ago by Scaffetta and West, discussing a link between solar activity and climate trends.
    Thanks for the link. I tend to agree with Peter Foukal, and have discussed with Scafetta at AGU last Fall the use of flares rather than TSI directly. Our observations of flares in the past is even more uncertain than our reconstructions of TSI. As far as i remember the answer was that they had that result handy already…
    Interesting to see the perception by several that the IPCC does not recognize the solar influence as significant, and that the ACRIM series is questionable.

  134. Mary Hinge says:

    actuator (12:35:32) :

    “Oh, and I was in the 21st Century before it got here babe.”

    Groovy, Smashing Baby! When this ship comes a’ rockin’, don’t come a’ knockin’, baby!

  135. Ted Annonson says:

    I have a question that’s been bothering me for a long time. The solar wind is composed of protons (hydrogen atoms stripped of their electrons). What heppens to all those electrons? Is there some sub-atomic process tha destroys or neutralizes these electrical charges without affecting the positive charg on the proton?

  136. Ted Annonson says:

    My fingers did it again- that was “positive charge”.
    PS
    I studied electrical engineering during the 1940′s at Michigan Mining & Tech, so I know a little about how ordinary electrical theory works. Got drafted before I got my degree, but I got a degree in computer science and worked with computers since the mid 1960′s. Never trusted computer models. Too much that can be “fine tuned”, so they’re no better than a SWAG.

  137. Ted Annonson (19:19:39) :
    The solar wind is composed of protons (hydrogen atoms stripped of their electrons).
    For every proton there is also an electron. The solar wind is neutral. In fact, the [easy to move] electrons give the solar wind its very high heat conductivity without which there wouldn’t be a solar wind to begin with.

  138. Pingback: Some fun stats with Sunspots and how the current activity stacks up against recent history « Digital Diatribes of a Random Idiot

  139. Ted Annonson says:

    Thanks Leif! I was wandering because the site I watch every day only shows the velocity and protons per cm^3. http://www.spaceweather.com/

  140. Robert Bateman says:

    If we are to do comparisons (and we should) with previous cycles as to spotless day, then we need to compare this episode with previous ones in the same manner: I.e – from previous maximum to minimum, and note that we are nowhere near confidence that minimum has been reached.

    http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Spotless/Spotless.html#Evolution
    Monthly number of spotless days
    first 2 graphs. If we are at peak, then the total # of spotless days is going to be double what we have now, the spotless days counting starts later than SC10-15 , and runs stronger than the curve of SC10-15.
    It looks to be a whole new animal.

  141. Ted Annonson says:

    Thanks Leif! I was wondering because the site I watch every day only shows the wind velocity and the number of proyyons per cm^3.
    http://www.spaceweather.com/

  142. Ted Annonson says:

    Thanks Leif!

  143. Ted Annonson says:

    It seems most of my last comment got lost somewhere. I watch http://www.spaceweather.com/
    every day and the give the solar wind velocity and the number of protons per cm^3, so it got me wondering about the electrons that must equal the number of protons.
    So – Thanks again Leif.

  144. leebertarian says:

    Jim Powell (07:03:22) :

    …I believe the Younger Dryas was caused by a piece of a comet hitting the Laurentide ice sheet 12, 900 years ago causing a spike in the temperatures an a huge influx of water then shutting down the THC.

    Most people are not aware that this made a great deal of recent press in a recent discovery pinpointing the impact site…
    http://www.google.com/search?q=comet+canada+ohio+diamonds

    Meanwhile James Hansen has continued in implicating CO2 in the rapid melt of the Laurentide stade: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2008/Carlson_etal.html

  145. Dee Norris says:

    @leebertarian and Jim Powell:

    An excellent release on the latest findings is here:

    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=25852

    Interesting to note that Tankersley was skeptical of the impact claims, set out to disprove them and only ended up convincing himself of their validity.

  146. Robert Bateman says:

    I am forced to look at AGW like this: The wrong conclusion for all the right reasons. Throw out the CO2 forced warming and we are still left with the massive pollution on a global scale and eco-altering changes. At the end of the day, we are still biological creatures dependent on the Earth to sustain us, and we only got 1 Earth.
    We surely won’t last long enough at this rate to get to understand what makes the Sun tick.
    Science needs the public on thier side, for after all, if we can’t look to the govt. for answers, science is all we have left.

  147. Diatribical Idiot says:

    “I am forced to look at AGW like this: The wrong conclusion for all the right reasons. Throw out the CO2 forced warming and we are still left with the massive pollution on a global scale and eco-altering changes. At the end of the day, we are still biological creatures dependent on the Earth to sustain us, and we only got 1 Earth.
    We surely won’t last long enough at this rate to get to understand what makes the Sun tick.
    Science needs the public on thier side, for after all, if we can’t look to the govt. for answers, science is all we have left.”

    I think a mistake in characterization is that people who are skeptical about Global Warming are somehow anti-environmental. And I completely disagree with your characterization of “for all the right reasons.”

    Science should not be subject to bias due to social considerations. Social considerations should be driven by sound science. Most of us acknowledge certain environmental problems and issues that need to be addressed. Action to respond to Global Warming is unhealthy, if not scientifically accurate, because it means you are directing resources inefficiently. If Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant, and presents little risk to us, then those resources are better off being directed towards clean drinking water in impoverished places. Or cleaning up real toxic messes. Or development of alternative energies for national security reasons, as well as environmentally sound reasons. Carbon offsets are a joke, and Carbon Taxes will hurt legitimate, otherwise environmentally sound, businesses.

    As a father of seven, I am also sensitive to greater agendas driven by many Global Warming alarmist groups that boil the message down to “people are bad.” I am viewed as the enemy to many.

    So, I think it is great that people care about environmental issues. That, however, is no excuse for accepting bad science as some kind of means to an end.

  148. leebert says:

    Dee Morris & Jim Powell..

    Thanks for the info!

  149. Leon Brozyna says:

    The sun’s not making nice-nice.

    There’s a plage area in the eastern edge of the southern hemisphere, showing just above a “stuck pixel” on the continuum image. Checking the magnetogram, it’s black leading white, which I guess makes this another possible SC23 event. Seems to be rather high in latitude for this late in the cycle. It has gotten a bit stronger throughout the day today, though it remains to be seen if this will even develop into a sunspeck. Should know by tomorrow if this develops further or sinks back into oblivion.

  150. Robert Bateman says:

    To Diatribical Idiot
    If Science keeps the lid on too many things (minimalizes), then all that is left is alarmism, and you know how that goes. Science is under mandate to the grantors to make it’s info public, and if they leave too many things hanging in the breeze, the unlearned and/or the unsavory will soon find it and blow totally out of proportion. The internet has changed our society, and where there is stone cold silence or guffawing dismissal, there will be suspicion and interpretation. You’ll get this either way, but if you allow the default you then become the conspriing enemy. Don’t be a victim.

  151. Gary Gulrud says:

    Remember this opening to the post “Sun Remains in a Magnetic Funk”?:

    “While sunspots are often cited as the main proxy indicator of solar activity, there is another indicator which I view as equally (if not more) important. The Average Planetary Magnetic index (Ap), the strength of which ties into Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory modulating Earth’s cloud cover.”

    Remember this?:

    Leif Svalgaard (10:58:08) :

    Gary Gulrud (10:17:59) :

    Tell us what point Anthony made or inferrence expected or the reader that is facilitated by your “adjusted data”?

    Anthony said:
    “I also decided to update the plot of the 10.7 centimeter band solar radio flux, also a metric of solar activity.”

    He clearly intended to plot a metric of solar activity, not of the variation of the distance to the Sun.

    The problem here is not one of memory, yours is unparalleled, but of a recurrent, tendentious death-grip on evident contradictions.

    An hallmark of Wittgenstein is that the notion, ‘words possess an ostensive sense’, is a source of philosophic confusion. He laboured to show that they more properly had a use in situ, in their context, and those uses defy assignment of referents.

    I believe, with some reason, that Leif maintains a perspective emblematic logical positivism espoused by the Vienna Circle.

    This does not explain this behavior of perseveration, but its recurrent context. The earlier case isn’t ‘forgotten’, the amygdala is simply in a loop that leaves it inaccessible, unavailable.

  152. Gary Gulrud (03:57:18) :
    You should have heeded Wittgenstein’s dictum:
    “wovon man nicht reden kann, darüber sollte man schweigen.”

    Note: Which translates to “About which one cannot talk one should remain silent”. Lets all play nice. – Anne

  153. garron says:

    Gary Gulrud (03:57:18) : . . . . . .

    I’m weary of your convoluted impotent attempts at intellectual condescension. You appear to obsess on logical nitpicks when you should be pursing civil discourse regarding the interpretation of data.

  154. Gary Gulrud says:

    garron:

    The feedback is appreciated. I have no fundamental disagreement with anything but:

    “you should be pursing civil discourse regarding the interpretation of data”

    The implication that any member of our species would or could set aside their passions discussing the evidence for or against the overarching issue at this site, AGW, with all it’s economic and social consequences, is motivated either in self-delusion or considered deception.

    For the few who come here with no preconceived opinion: They would be unconscionably remiss to long remain so disposed.

    No opinion, expressed by anyone here, at bottom issues from reason; that behavior is not part of our frame. Reason is a slave at the behest of belief and conviction.

  155. garron says:

    Gary Gulrud (08:43:52) : “. . . . . . . . .Reason is a slave at the behest of belief and conviction.”

    Pretense at being more than animal may be returned in kind . Empathy may lead to reconciliation. Self cross-examination may bring clarify.

    So much of intercourse has become showbiz. Form is king. Deception queen. Every nugget that may be truth buried under a avalanche of under-rationalize opinion void of logic or citation.

    I’m just an ancient high school dropout longing for the spirit of past amicable debates over plate tectonics and light as wave and particle. Passion and politics were there but for the most part., the desire to ascertain fact trumped belief and conviction.

    I would ask you to consider — in some exchanges, not going for the jugular is in you better interest and, of the species.

  156. Gary Gulrud says:

    Returning to C14 dating:

    “It’s not about dating, as that can be done by counting tree rings and a reliable [to one year certainty] tree ring chronology goes back 10,000 years. It is, in fact, the error in the 14C date that gives us the proxy.”

    Thinking about this for a minute is revealing. Samples from the dendrochronologic sequence are radiocarbon dated and the C14 series is ‘calibrated’. A curve of C14 concentration is generated as represented by the tree cores.

    This means the standard error of the dating process remains: The number of remaining C14 atoms are counted and the proportion of total Carbon computed. Plugging this into a simple differential equation results in the estimate of time elapsed, and thus the date of tissue death.

    With calibration one is performing a check on the result which ostensibly adds information. The Thera radiocarbon date was done by a German lab and was calibrated, and yet remains in error by 6%. Why?

    The fundamental assumption is that the CO2, and its C14 are well mixed.

    But Thera was an active volcano residing in the Mediterranean. The olive tree was bathed daily by C14 depleted CO2 from ocean outgassing, and for at least the last decade of its life, by volcanic outgassing, with CO2 devoid of C14. So the sample is unrepresentatively ‘old’.

    Second, as indicated above, the 1600 AD calibration sample is unrepresentatively ‘new’ and does not aid accuracy in dating artifacts of the Mediterranean or its perimeter.

    “I would ask you to consider — in some exchanges, not going for the jugular is in you better interest and, of the species.”

    Right address, wrong street.

  157. Mary Hinge says:

    Gary Gulrud
    Credit to you, I’ve never heard as high degree of bulldust expressed so eloquently!

  158. Gary Gulrud says:

    M. H.: Well, I am glad someone is amused.

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