Sun’s magnetic field still in a funk during September

While the sun puts out a new and significant cycle 24 spot,  the real news is just how quiet the suns magnetic field has been in the past couple of years, and remained during September 2008. From the data provided by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) you can see just how little magnetic field activity there has been. I’ve graphed it below with the latest available data from October 6th, 2008:


click for a larger image

What I find  most interesting about the Geomagnetic Average Planetary Index graph above is what happened around October 2005. Notice the sharp drop in the magnetic index and the continuance at low levels.

This looks much like a “step function” that I see on GISS surface temperature graphs when a station has been relocated to a cooler measurement environment. In the case of the sun, it appears this indicates that something abruptly “switched off” in the inner workings of the solar dynamo. Note that in the prior months, the magnetic index was ramping up a bit with more activity, then it simply dropped and stayed mostly flat.

Currently the Ap magnetic index continues at a low level, and while the “smoothed” data from SWPC is not made available for 2008, I’ve added it with a dashed blue line, and the trend appears to be going down.

However, it will be interesting to see if an uptick in the Ap index occurs, now that a significant SC24 spot has emerged. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until early November for SWPC to update the data set.

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127 thoughts on “Sun’s magnetic field still in a funk during September

  1. The example I keep thinking of when you mention the step is of the internals of a relay. A relay is just a switch where the switch can be influenced by something – like an electromagnet.

    If the circuit doesn’t trigger the magnet, it bumbles around in one area. As soon as it does trigger the magnet, the typical flow is altered. And remains altered until the magnet is de-triggered.

    Very slight changes can be the piece that actually triggers the change. Which is where the whole business of arguing over whether TSI changes by 1-2% or 2-4% seems odd. If there’s a physical process on Earth that can ‘latch high’ or ‘latch low’, very slight changes can be the root cause.

  2. Anthony,
    What is your bottom line view of this with respect to its impact on earth’s weather and climate systems? Surely you must think it affects something as this past year you’ve dedicated a lot of threads on this subject.

    REPLY: I do but cannot yet quantify it. I think there is, like the “relay effect” described above in comments, something like that, but more like a “transistor effect” related to earths climate, where a small change in in input(s) control a larger current flow. – Anthony

  3. Doesn’t that look kind of similar to the “step down” in temps that took place, according to UAH, RSS, in Dec. 2008?

    Just an, approx., 3 year lag.

  4. Dr Leif, ..sorry
    these are the criteria?
    Dst 5 mV/m = V × Bs (vector)
    Bs <-12,5 nT
    wind +/- 400 km/s.
    decrease in intensity of muons( ?????)

  5. Dr Leif, ..sorry…ops
    these are the criteria?
    Dst 5 mV/m = V × Bs (vector)
    Bs <-12,5 nT
    wind +/- 400 km/s.
    decrease in intensity of muons( ?????)

  6. However, it will be interesting to see if an uptick in the Ap index occurs, now that a significant SC24 spot has emerged. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until early November for SWPC to update the data set.

    You can get both aa and ap in real time here:

    http://www.geomag.bgs.ac.uk/on_line_gifs.html

    Sometimes ap is a bit behind, but you can calculate it from aa:
    ap = 0.2567 * (aa)^1.253 [R2=0.9723, for monthly means]

    About the ‘step': I do not think that is relevant [many such ‘steps’ before] and most importantly: it is likely that most of the step in ‘artificial’ in the sense that the Earth [and ap] is not a perfect proxy for solar wind conditions. If you look at solar wind conditions, e.g. as shown here: http://www.leif.org/research/Most%20Recent%20IMF,%20SW,%20and%20Solar%20Data.pdf you’ll see that nothing ‘special’ went on in October, 2005, that you can’t also see elsewhere. BTW, I’ll be updating the graphs this weekend.

  7. Fernando (13:01:46) :
    these are the criteria? Dst 5 mV/m = V × Bs (vector) Bs <-12,5 nT wind +/- 400 km/s.
    decrease in intensity of muons( ?????)

    Muons are secondary GCRs created when the primary protons [mostly] slam into the upper atmosphere. The conditions you mention are not quite what determine the GCR flux. First, Dst does not depend on V and Bs in that simple way [although you can find someone that claims it does – as always, you can find proponents for any claims, somewhere]. Second the quantities you mention pertain to the Earth or near Earth space, while the GCRs depend on the conditions averaged over the whole solar system and beyond. Perhaps you could be a bit more specific about where you got the numbers and the idea from…

  8. What I find most interesting about the Geomagnetic Average Planetary Index graph above is what happened around October 2005. Notice the sharp drop in the magnetic index and the continuance at low levels.

    The drop comes about because of a single magnetic storm the 11-12th September, 2005. Here are the ap 3-hour values for that storm:
    11-09-2005 94 132 179 94 132 56 80 39 101
    12-09-2005 39 32 132 67 39 80 80 132 75

    Just as a single month’s temperature does not define climate change, so does a single magnetic storm not signal a change in the Sun, and should not engender any speculations as to its significance.

  9. In the 1933 timeframe, which was a very quiet time for number of sunspots at least (like now), the global temperatures fell. I didn’t really look for a time-lag between sunspot numbers and temperature deltas. It appeared to happen rather quickly… There are probably other factors to consider as well.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/gcag/index.jsp

    There appears to be correlation between the sun’s magnetic field and number of sunspots on the . Has anyone calculated the correlation?

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/RecentIndices.txt

  10. AURORA WATCH: Sky watchers from Alaska to Scandinavia should be alert for auroras tonight. A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth’s magnetic field and causing high-latitude geomagnetic storms. http://spaceweather.com
    Dst < -100nT
    Coincidence….sunspot x geomagnetic storm ?????

  11. This is the astronomical equivalent of watching the grass grow, and it is completely rivetting …..

    Will the solar cycle come upon us with great force, or merely mekely show an ankle and discretely disappear to the bedroom?

    Will sexual metaphores become the norm within the astronomical community?

    But seriously, it must surely have increased the stock of solar science, when Wall Street stock is declining.

  12. Fernando (15:04:33) :
    Coincidence….sunspot x geomagnetic storm ?????
    absolutely, yes. That spot did not cause the storm. Nor created the conditions that caused the storm. Nor had anything at all to do with this storm.

  13. DR asks (actually Anthony) “”What is your bottom line view of this with respect to its impact on earth’s weather and climate systems? Surely you must think it affects something as this past year you’ve dedicated a lot of threads on this subject.””

    Well as someone who has watched weather patterns, I would like to answer, not in opposition to Anthony, but as my own opinion. My daughter an I were discussing how that the clouds have come so much lower to the surface, and I mistakingly thought that it was due to climate cooling.

    Thank God, I just watched the History channel’s Armegeddeon (sp)and found out that freezing on the Thames and Hudson bay and all over, was going to be due to us burning fossil fuels and global warming.

    You can’t make this up!!!

    I thought the cynics who predicted that IPCC climate change would mean that global warming meant freezing were, well, basically LYING. Well, bite my tongue, this is what they are proclaiming. The warmer it gets, if it doesn’t, the colder it gets, if it does, … because of CO2. Of course, they are quoting the Revelation of John. Apparently those who compare AGW to religion are correct.

    Now they are doing volcanoes!!! Apparently volcanoes and CO2 are related to man’s CO2 sins. I repeat, you can’t make this up!

    Snip at will!! I am to busy laughing to care. And to believe this is one of the best on cable right now. At least the SC23 SC24 cycle has something to grab your attention, and may actually pertain to observations and not belief.

  14. I see that earlier in the record there are several places with leaps up or down of similar magnitude to the October 2005 drop. But the recent section is much smoother and bears little resemblance to the earlier large leaps.

  15. I thought the cynics who predicted that IPCC climate change would mean that global warming meant freezing were, well, basically LYING.

    It’s old hat. I’ve been hearing since the 1999 La Nina that when it gets hot, gets cold, or stays the same it’s all down to AGW.

    There’s a legit theory, though, that increased CO2 (directly or indirectly) contributes to the cloud cover. But that just increases albedo and provides negative feedback and homeostasis.

    It would help explain the temps over the last decade. (That plus the multidecadal cycles.)

  16. http://pluto.space.swri.edu/IMAGE/glossary/geomagnetic_storm.html

    cite=””>Recurrent storms occur most frequently in the declining phase of the solar cycle. Non-recurrent geomagnetic storms, on the other hand, occur most frequently near solar maximum. They are caused by interplanetary disturbances driven by fast coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and typically involve an encounter with both the interplanetary shock wave and the CME that drives it.

    So if Im reading this right recurrent geomagnetic storms could be caused by something like the coronal hole that has visible for some time now on the suns surface and other such non recurrent storms occur when the sun spits matter into space:) But neither have much to do with sunspots??

  17. Anthony,
    Would a rate of change plot of your graph above show anything
    more about the step change you mention or rather observe.

  18. @John F Pittman

    …”Thank God, I just watched the History channel’s Armegeddeon (sp)and found out that freezing on the Thames and Hudson bay and all over, was going to be due to us burning fossil fuels and global warming.

    You can’t make this up!!!”…

    That is what it sounds like when someone is losing their audience and are now just trying to remain convinced themselves. By all recent surveys, Joe Public isn’t buying it anymore, not after 20 years of predictions of imminent disaster in which nothing has happened.

    Panic-induced adrenaline doesn’t stay in the system for very long. It fades, and gets replaced by feelings of vague anxiety, which last until they run across information that puts it in perspective and indicates that it was probably all nonsense to begin with.

    At that point, that person is lost to the “movement”. Anxiety is replaced by relief and they can get on with their lives without that vague dread in the back of their minds all the time.

    The flip side, and kind of sad, is that for such a person ANY future issues put forward by environmental groups will be met with deep suspicion, and there remain plenty of legitimate environmental concerns that have been overshadowed by all this AGW nonsense.

    Most here, myself included, remain concerned about pollution and resource destruction and other environmental issues. But watching History Channel and other so-called “science” channels these days, where its all about ghosts and UFOs and monsters and Global Warming and Nostradamus and Mayan 2012 or other end of days scenarios, anything thing of real concern just gets lost in all the noise.

  19. Re – above plot suggestion, in other words virtually the same graph
    but with the blue line “straightened”.
    ie rate of change from the smoothed average Ap.

  20. The Earth has 3/4 water on it’s surface. Salty water. Conductive water.
    Anyone has a study how much is the current flow true this water,
    do to Earth “swimming” in the magnetic field?

    That electrical current could be correlated with heat transfer etc.
    That current may have a connection with the jet streams as well.

    No I don’t have any scientific credentials, so be gentle please… :)

  21. Several months ago on Jerry Pournelles Chaos Manor someone (I can’t recall who or the date) wrote in to pray for sunspots. I never concerned myself with them up until then, it was right up there with watching the grass grow. But my interest was piqued…I saw some graphs and the corrolation looked pretty darn good to me. Leif has pretty much put the kibosh on that (although I still am not 100% sure as to why, but his confidence and science has turned me).

    I would like to pose a question…

    Since the solar wind pressure is low, would not the atmosphere expand and then as the surface area grew would that in effect make a bigger radiator cooling the earth? Or is the solar wind pressure so minisule that it’s effect would be negligable? Or am I so far out to lunch that I need to return to lurking mode?

  22. pkatt (01:32:04) :
    So if Im reading this right recurrent geomagnetic storms could be caused by something like the coronal hole that has visible for some time now on the suns surface and other such non recurrent storms occur when the sun spits matter into space:) But neither have much to do with sunspots??
    You are essentially correct. There is only one small addition: the decay of sunspots supply the magnetic fields that eventually help sustain coronal holes [weeks or months later].

    Mick (03:40:53) :
    Anyone has a study how much is the current flow true this water, do to Earth “swimming” in the magnetic field?
    That electrical current could be correlated with heat transfer etc.

    Changes in the magnetic field does induce electrical currents in the ocean [and in the Earth’s rocks, too], but the energy supplied in this way is typically a million times smaller than that supplied by the Sun, so not much heating to be gotten from that.

    Ralph B. (05:16:01) :
    Or is the solar wind pressure so minuscule that it’s effect would be negligible?
    The solar wind is stopped 40,000 miles above the Earth by the Earth’s magnetic field and does not press on the atmosphere, so no measurable effect from this [although you can always find people that claim that the solar wind ‘compact’ the atmosphere or generate hurricanes, and just about anything else].

  23. Mick and Ralph B. Thought provoking questions. I’m not sure of the answers, but I’ll give it a whirl. I don’t think there is a circuit to conduct electricity in your example, Mick. Radiation isn’t just from the surface of the atmosphere, Ralph.
    =============================

  24. Anthony

    One of the interesting things that I have noted relative to geomagnetic indices is that when a more significant solar wind ram pressure spike takes place [ as just took place yesterday Oct 11] , the magnetopause stand off distance is reduced to around 7-8 Re from 12-16 Re , earth’s magnetosphere is compressed, the cross cap ionosphere potential difference [max minus min] shoots up from 10-50 kv to about 150 to 200kv, the geomagnetic index as measured by the “ aa” index goes to 30- 40 and over , and often 40—90 . If the Bz component of IMF is from the “south” and if the pressure spike lasts for 5-10 hours then there seems to be an atmospheric temperature rise correlation as well. Matter of fact I use the” aa “geomagnetic index to guide me to which solar wind ram pressure spikes may be associated with temperature spikes. I think you can’t have the magnetic field increases if the electrical currents are not increased and joule heating is what I think may be taking place [although I cannot prove it directly] at lower altitudes resulting in small amount of atmospheric heating. It will be interesting to back track this latest solar wind ram pressure spike and associated geomagnetic index rise and posible temperature change.I have also noted that if you plot atmospheric temperatures and total IMF strength, the plots look similar especialy at lower stratophere level. It has been warmer weather where I live for OCTOBER 11–12 . Prehaps Leif can comment on what happens as well?

    REPLY: This sounds like the beginning of a paper, what’s needed is a graphic or animation to help visualize it.- Anthony

  25. Oregon has set some low records! These are occurring on a near daily basis so I don’t want to bore you with an every single day post. But one of these records is a new low since records began in 1890!

    These data are preliminary and have not undergone final quality control by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Therefore, these data are subject to revision. Final and certified climate data can be accessed at the NCDC – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov.
    Record Report

    000
    SXUS76 KPDT 111801
    RERPDT

    RECORD EVENT REPORT
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PENDLETON OR
    1100 AM PDT SAT OCT 11 2008

    …NEW DAILY RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES FOR OCTOBER 11TH…

    NOTE: STATIONS MARKED WITH * INDICATE THAT THE STATION REPORTS ONCE
    PER DAY. FOR CONSISTENCY…THESE VALUES ARE CONSIDERED TO HAVE
    OCCURRED ON THE DAY THE OBSERVATION WAS TAKEN BUT MAY HAVE ACTUALLY
    OCCURRED (ESPECIALLY FOR MAX TEMPERATURE) ON THE PREVIOUS DAY.

    STATION PREVIOUS NEW RECORDS
    RECORD/YEAR RECORD BEGAN

    *JOHN DAY(CITY), OR 23 / 1990 21 1953
    MEACHAM, OR 20 / 2002 15 1948 :SINCE MID
    *MITCHELL, OR 26 / 2002 21 1949
    PENDLETON(ARPT), OR 33 / 1990 25 1934 :SINCE MID
    *PENDLETON(CITY), OR 24 / 1890 22 1890
    *PENDLETON(ES), OR 23 / 1990 18 1956
    WALLA WALLA, WA 35 / 1987 33 1949 :SINCE MID

  26. Just thought I would let everyone know there has been an abrupt rise in the cosmic rays now entering our atmosphere. Its been steady around 6550 to 6650 count for months now. In the last 48 hours were now up to around 7000 to 7050. This to me is very interesting and I would like to hear from those who know more about this event.

  27. It should be interesting to see this month’s value for Ap. Usually it’s been fluctuating around low daily values, never too far from low single digits, but since yesterday, it seems to have been holding fairly steady around 25. Might see an uptick for the month once all the data are in. {I know, we’ve still got over half a month to go yet.}

  28. Michael Clark (09:14:54) :
    Just thought I would let everyone know there has been an abrupt rise in the cosmic rays now entering our atmosphere. Its been steady around 6550 to 6650 count for months now. In the last 48 hours were now up to around 7000 to 7050. This to me is very interesting and I would like to hear from those who know more about this event.

    Michael, from another thread:
    Pamela Gray (09:56:20) :
    In either case, what would explain the sudden elevation of neutron particles

    Pamela, here is the explanation [email exchange between me and Usoskin at Oulu]:

    me: Ilya,
    You have a problem with the Neutron monitor counts at Oulu. October 11 and 12.
    reply:
    Dear Leif,
    Thank you – I know the problem. I am away now, and my student interchanged the channels – pressure uncorrected data are shown since 11/10. It will be fixed tonight.
    Best regards,
    Ilya
    Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory (Oulu unit)

  29. The latest Stanford Wilcox Polar Field strength graph, updated Thursday, continues to show a very sight trend “upward” (actually “less negative,” or back toward zero).

    The graph of the computed angle of the Heliospheric Current Sheet just put in another higher low, with the minimum having already occurred in late 2006

  30. matt v. (08:37:45) :
    Perhaps Leif can comment on what happens as well?
    REPLY: This sounds like the beginning of a paper, what’s needed is a graphic or animation to help visualize it.- Anthony

    All in your comment that relates to the solar wind’s influence on geomagnetic activity is essentially correct and was figured out 30 years ago, see e.g. http://www.leif.org/research/suipr699.pdf
    What is not established is causative correlations with hurricanes or temperatures, or any other weather/climate phenomena.

    REPLY: Wresting the secrets of Nature from her is never easy. – Anthony

  31. Leon Brozyna (09:21:35) :
    It should be interesting to see this month’s value for Ap.
    For the umpteenth time: the high values for ap on the 11th has nothing whatsoever to do with any uptick of SC24. The storm was due to a ‘co-rotating interaction region’ that has been there since June 2004 and causes a storm every 27 days. Sometimes that storm is a little bit larger than usual because the solar wind magnetic field by random change was a bit more southward that usual, and the storm also tends to stand out because it now is otherwise quiet.

  32. Leif, I just took a quick sweep of your 1978 article. Tell me, is that a picture of chadded data cards? They look like the cards I used at the VA hospital when the computer was housed in the basement (the entire basement) and was the only area of the hospital that had air conditioning. I remember having to go through the cards to check for hanging chads before putting them in the “pick up slot” for analysis. We eventually equipped the lab with Mac SE’s and purchased Statview for each one of them. From then on we used 9-key methods to enter data and a tiny little computer with a screen no bigger than a large man’s hand, did the rest. I still have my copy of Statview SE that I purchased so that I could crunch numbers at home. Those were the days.

  33. Leif Svalgaard (11:31:32) :

    For the umpteenth time: the high values for ap on the 11th has nothing whatsoever to do with any uptick of SC24.

    I was only commenting on the recent rise in the Ap. Wasn’t trying to relate it to anything else. Just noted that it had been rather high and holding, compared to recent low values.

  34. Fernando (10:37:47) :
    Leif, sorry… note the coincidence
    No need to feel sorry, The decrease of Dst happened every 27 days back in time, just click on ‘last month’ several times and notice the decrease in Dst roughly every 27 days [it slides a bit because months are ~30 days long] You can do this for several years [back to June 2004].

  35. John-X (11:12:53) :
    The latest Stanford Wilcox Polar Field strength graph, updated Thursday, continues to show a very sight trend “upward” (actually “less negative,” or back toward zero).
    Look at the heavy black curve. Not the read and blue ones.

  36. Leif: A View of Solar Magnetic Fields, the Solar Corona, and the Solar Wind in Three Dimensions, 1978

    The artist didn’t stray far from your drawing. Sometimes those artists can stylize something past the point of what was intended by the original depiction, that of trying to capture the essence of a phenomena. But back to chads and data cards. That has to be a picture of a data card.

  37. Pamela Gray (14:08:49) :
    The artist didn’t stray far from your drawing. Sometimes those artists can stylize something past the point of what was intended by the original depiction, that of trying to capture the essence of a phenomena.
    That is why his image is so iconic and still being used because it captures things ‘just right’.

    But back to chads and data cards. That has to be a picture of a data card.
    What ‘that’? I don’t see the connection… Which figure number?

  38. Leif Svalgaard (13:27:48) :

    John-X (11:12:53) :
    ‘The latest Stanford Wilcox Polar Field strength graph, updated Thursday, continues to show a very sight trend “upward” (actually “less negative,” or back toward zero).’
    ” Look at the heavy black curve. Not the read and blue ones.”

    FYI, the heavy black curve is the “smoothed average” of the red and blue ones.

    FYI, I did look at the heavy black curve – that’s where the “very slight trend upward” is.

    If you do not see the trend, I suggest using a straight edge across the minima. You should see a “very slight trend upward.” If not, there is something wrong, possibly with your straight edge. Possibly not.

  39. >> But back to chads and data cards. That has to be a picture of a data card.

    > What ‘that’? I don’t see the connection… Which figure number?

    I think it must be the right side of figure 9. The aspect ratio of the little rectangles are close to the holes on “IBM cards,” though the orientation, spacing, and tri-state nature all speak against it having anything to do with an IBM card.

    See http://jebrown.us/PunchCardReader/index.html for a “real” card, see http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/cards/history.html for more history.

  40. Leif: Figure 9. Although now that I look more closely at it, it may not be a chad data card. We configured our stack of cards to correspond with x-y axis data and punched out chads to correspond to that data. The cards where then fed into the computer for data crunching, though I have done an ANOVA the old fashioned way, by hand.

  41. John-X (15:09:37) :
    FYI, I did look at the heavy black curve – that’s where the “very slight trend upward” is.
    Ah, I didn’t catch the subtlety that what you call ‘upwards’ I would call ‘downwards’, c.f. Figure 3 of http://www.leif.org/research/Cycle%2024%20Smallest%20100%20years.pdf
    I would say that there is a very strong downwards trend in that the polar fields have fallen to only half of what they were 30 years ago. Now, if you want to call that a ‘very slight upwards trend’, ….
    Another interpretation is that you don’t mean solar ‘minima’ but just the local minima for the heavy black curve the last 6 years, or perhaps the last 9 years [have different slopes]. I don’t know. The important fact is that within our measurement errors the polar fields have been very steady the past several years. There is an interesting aside to this: When you have ‘scattered’ light entering the measuring device, it decreases the measured magnetic field [because the scattering mixes light from different parts of the solar disk]. Now, the past few months we had hundreds or even thousands of forest fires in California. These fires put such much smoke and other gunk in the sky that the solar image was very hazy [on some days even hard to see!]. All that haze [that is only now beginning to clear – and in any event also precipitated dirt on the mirrors and lenses] scatters light and diminishes the measured values of the magnetic field. We still have to correct for that.

  42. Ric Werme (15:31:56) :
    But back to chads and data cards. That has to be a picture of … I think it must be the right side of figure 9. The aspect ratio of the little rectangles are close to the holes on “IBM cards,”

    Ah, yes. I didn’t see it because we did not use ‘IBM’ punched cards with rectangular holes, but paper tape with round holes.

    OT, we did our data processing and modeling on a PDP11-45 minicomputer [serial number 273!]. The machine had an atrocious ‘operating’ system, RTS, and associated Fortran compiler. Both were full of bugs and were hardly usable. Furthermore, the machine could at max only support 28K of programs and 28K of data [that is ‘K’ = 1024, not megs]. Before being invited to Stanford, I had worked for a Danish computer manufacturer writing operating systems, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RC_4000_Multiprogramming_System. Our work has served as the foundation of almost all modern operating systems. We invented [or clarified] concepts like ‘processes’ running in parallel and ‘interprocess communication’, ‘message passing’, multiprogramming kernels, and such, and had a wonderful Algol compiler. The software was [essentially – see below] bug free, [multi] user friendly, and efficient.
    So, the first thing I did at Stanford was to write an ‘emulator’ that emulated the RC4000 in complete detail on the PDP11. So well, that I could simply feed it the binary image of the RC4000 system and it would run that without further ado and for all intents and purposes be an RC4000. Since I was in control of the ‘hardware’ I emulated [with paging] a [for the time] HUGE internal memory of several MegaBytes. This virtual machine served the institute for a decade until the Dec Vax caught up and became a usable system. All our scientific work back then was done on the ‘virtual’ machine with round holes [which is why I was a bit slow on the chads].
    Once we had RC4000 running, Phil Scherrer and myself typed in the complete source text of the system [corresponding to the binary tape] from a listing of the system as it was running at the Danish Meteorological Institute in order to make a version that was more optimized towards our use of the machine. Computer history buffs might get a kick out of that, here it is: http://www.leif.org/research/rc4000.pdf [warning 9 Mb]. This is the complete source code for the kernel, the operating system, and all the device drivers. In line 15772 you will see the correction of the one and only bug ever found. The strange language is the assembler language for the RC4000.

  43. John-X (11:12:53) :
    The latest Stanford Wilcox Polar Field strength graph, updated Thursday, continues to show a very sight trend “upward” (actually “less negative,” or back toward zero).

    Can see a trend there…i have plotted the sunspot max’s and start dates on the graph. In the past the start of cycle correlates with a defined change in polarity direction which cannot be seen at present…so far.

    Also noticed the North and South graphs are quite diff in shape in this cycle.

  44. Leif Svalgaard (17:26:32) :

    Ah, yes. I didn’t see it because we did not use ‘IBM’ punched cards with rectangular holes, but paper tape with round holes.

    Uh oh, don’t go there… Anthony – please bear with us.

    OT, we did our data processing and modeling on a PDP11-45 minicomputer [serial number 273!]. The machine had an atrocious ‘operating’ system, RTS, and associated Fortran compiler. … I had worked for a Danish computer manufacturer writing operating systems, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RC_4000_Multiprogramming_System. … had a wonderful Algol compiler.

    Oh dear, you went there. RTS? You probably meant RSTS, unless you meant RSX which you would have hated much more. I worked at DEC on the PDP-10 operating systems (much better) and did a fair amount of PDP-11 code. Before that, I spent four years at Carnegie-Mellon as a student then two more working for the Computer Science Dept. Alan Perlis, one of the developers of Algol, taught the lecture portion of the “Computer Programming and Problem Solving I” course and used the very nice Algol on the Univac 1108. Per Brinch Hansen was my instructor for an OS course (around 1970). Nico Haberman was there too – do all you Danes speak as quietly?

    So, the first thing I did at Stanford was to write an ‘emulator’ that emulated the RC4000 in complete detail on the PDP11. So well, that I could simply feed it the binary image of the RC4000 system and it would run that without further ado and for all intents and purposes be an RC4000. …

    Sounds slow! Actually, the 11/45 was pretty speedy. My Roses graphics hack could generate 3000 vectors per second on a 11/45. Our vector graphics hardware did the busywork of drawing the lines on the screen.

    System emulators on modern systems (including desktops) often run much faster today than they did on the original (million dollar) hardware.

    After leaving DEC in 1978, I wound up back there on working on their OSF/1 based Unix system, OSF/1 came from Rick Rashid at CMU and had a microkernel design, though it was so deep in the system to be all but invisible.

  45. Some of us oldsters were running multi tasking real time operating systems in 1965 at Astrodata. All written in assembly. I still write in assembly today. Some of us still use our own operating systems, orders of magnitude more reliable than what one can purchase. I do remember paper tape punched on a Friden Flexowriter to write softeware for a Univac processor. I wrote a real time emulator for the Saber communications front end, to help debug the operating system, maybe 1969. Lots of history. Even back then I realized the importance of archiving paper tapes, punched cards, later tape , then disks, then version control files. So we can see what our left and right hands have in concert done. Kind of all off topic except for keeping track of our data sets so we will know what we think happened some time in the future when we are all smarter.

  46. Very low magnetic activity? I thought we had a few strong stroms these days.. A K6, which is already high in my sense, with huge and beautiful aurorae.

  47. nobwainer (20:34:03) :
    In the past the start of cycle correlates with a defined change in polarity direction which cannot be seen at present…so far.
    What you see is that solar max is the time when the polar fields pass through zero. If not, just move you red square [an alternative ‘definition’ of solar max is when the polar fields reverse!]. The polar fields are quite steady until the new cycle starts [blue square] then begin their slow decline. You can with confidence place a blue square at the right-hand edge, then everything fits.

    Also noticed the North and South graphs are quite diff in shape in this cycle.
    Not just in this cycle, but in all cycles we have observed to far. We don’t know if this is just coincidence or what the cause [if any] of this is. One thought is that there may be a ‘relic’ field deep inside the Sun. This is just speculation and not to be taken too seriously.

    Flanagan (02:29:13) :
    Very low magnetic activity? I thought we had a few strong storms these days
    These storms [as most] are not caused directly by sunspots [but by dynamic processes in the solar wind], so there is no contradiction.

  48. Ric Werme (21:59:01) :
    Oh dear, you went there. RTS? You probably meant RSTS, unless you meant RSX which you would have hated much more.
    Whatever it was; I only used it for one day, then decided it was useless and started writing the emulator.

    all intents and purposes be an RC4000. …
    Sounds slow! Actually, the 11/45 was pretty speedy.

    It was not slow at all. I put the address calculation [which was the bottleneck] into very fast ‘diode’ memory [I had all of 512 bits of it] and passed the floating point instructions straight through to the FPU, so in practice the emulator was only twice as slow, but it was hundreds of times more useful, and that is what counts. And to come back on topic: the PDP11-10 that ran the Wilcox Solar Observatory was emulating a virtual ‘telescope control computer’ we had designed for that purpose. Actually, now it is a PC, emulating the old PDP11-10, emulating the ‘telescope computer’. Usability is what counts. In fact, inside the PC is microcode that emulates the original Intel386 instruction set. Layers upon layers…

  49. Leif Svalgaard (03:50:30) :
    you meant RSX which you would have hated much more….
    Whatever it was; I only used it for one day, then decided it was useless and started writing the emulator.

    The emulator didn’t run under RSwhatever, but ran on the ‘bare metal’, of course, without any underlying OS or file system. In fact, I even removed RSWhatever from the system [to save disk space] to some consternation of the Service Engineer…

  50. I grew up on an 11/70 running RSTS in high school. Taught myself programing using Basic Plus. And hacked my way through the system by year-end.

    Fond memories – Thanks.

  51. nobwainer (20:34:03) :
    In the past the start of cycle correlates with a defined change in polarity direction which cannot be seen at present…so far.

    Leif says
    What you see is that solar max is the time when the polar fields pass through zero. If not, just move you red square [an alternative ‘definition’ of solar max is when the polar fields reverse!]. The polar fields are quite steady until the new cycle starts [blue square] then begin their slow decline. You can with confidence place a blue square at the right-hand edge, then everything fits.

    not sure i see your point Leif, i have my red square at polarity change….it seems there is a lag in the polar index before the decline starts?….and the decline hasnt happened yet in real time.

    Also noticed the North and South graphs are quite diff in shape in this cycle.
    Leif says..Not just in this cycle, but in all cycles we have observed to far. We don’t know if this is just coincidence or what the cause [if any] of this is. One thought is that there may be a ‘relic’ field deep inside the Sun. This is just speculation and not to be taken too seriously.

    riveting stuff…the knowledge base is astounding lol.

    i compared the last 2 cycles with respect to nth and sth and they were pretty close…perhaps this cycle they are not so close. Maybe we are in for some “phase catastrophes” :)

  52. A great poet on scepticism (from a letter of John Keats).

    ‘…Negative capability… [occurs] when man is capable of being in uncertainties,
    Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching out after fact & reason.’

    This is not, I would argue, Romantic celebration of the irrational, nor an excuse for intellectual laziness; the key word is ‘irritable’.

  53. nobwainer (04:37:03) :
    not sure i see your point Leif, i have my red square at polarity change….it seems there is a lag in the polar index before the decline starts?….and the decline hasnt happened yet in real time.
    Let me try again:
    1) the blue squares should be moved one or two years to earlier times
    2) the red squares are not when the polarity changes. Or you need to specify what that means. Polarity changes sign? No, that cannot be. Polarity begins to decline? Maybe that is it. Then the red squares should be right where the polarity stops being constant, and that is right now for the leftmost square that you can safely put in. You say it hasn’t started yet. But that doesn’t matter. What causes the polar fields to decrease is the emergence of new SC24 spots at high latitudes. Such spots are here [have been here for a a few months] and the polar flux will start to decrease within weeks

    riveting stuff…the knowledge base is astounding lol.
    Knowledge is no laughing matter.

    Maybe we are in for some “phase catastrophes” :)
    Naw, that is just pseudo-science. Tell us in your own words what a phase catastrophe is.

  54. Flanagan (04:54:02) :
    Well, excuse me but the article is about the sun magnetic activity
    You are hereby excused. Which solar ‘storms’ were you then referring to? I thought that K=6 and aurorae were on the Earth, not on the Sun…

  55. Flanagan (04:54:02) :

    Well, excuse me but the article is about the sun magnetic activity

    “It is an Ancient Programmer, and he stoppeth one of three….”

    Unfortunately, I’m a far better programmer than poet, or else I’d have rewritten The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by now.

    Be very glad we’re showing some restraint! :-)

  56. ‘Can see a trend there…i have plotted the sunspot max’s and start dates on the graph. In the past the start of cycle correlates with a defined change in polarity direction which cannot be seen at present…so far.’

    Looks to be just hanging around losing amplitude. At that rate of incline towards zero, we’ll be talking about this for the next 80 years.

  57. Leif: I have a small hope.
    …..These storms [the most] are not directly caused by sunspots [but by dynamic processes in the solar wind], so there is no contradiction.
    not directly … maybe …. indirectly.
    Waiting, a minimum period (blank) and a new group of real sunspots.
    You are really a great scientist.
    agradecido,

  58. Fernando (10:03:00) :
    Waiting, a minimum period (blank) and a new group of real sunspots.
    What so frustrated scientists up to about 1975 was there seemed to be two kinds of storms, moderate ones that were not related to sunspots [actually seemed to come from regions that avoided spots – today called coronal holes – then called ‘the cone of avoidance’], but whenever we had a really big sunspot group that would almost always be the cause of a very strong storm. how to explain both?

  59. Leif:……how to explain both?
    Perhaps an analogy with boiling water: the same amount of energy (apparently), the same effect with different aspects.
    a-with agitation.
    b-without agitation.
    Please: what (if any) equivalent to surface tension in the sun? And the surfactant?
    I’m trying to organize Leif’s FAQ. (2008)

  60. Leif Svalgaard (05:52:07) :

    Maybe we are in for some “phase catastrophes” :)
    Naw, that is just pseudo-science. Tell us in your own words what a phase catastrophe is.

    “phase catastrophes” is a term i picked up from a paper by USOSKIN AND MURSULA http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/SolPhys_Review_proof.pdf

    They reference several other papers (which i haven’t read yet)on the topic but my understanding on the theory is that the sun goes thru a period where both poles are the same polarity thus severely restricting the dynamo and possibly altering the strength of the next cycle. There is another paper by Makarov & Tlatov that studies 10Be records during the Maunder that suggests a similar situation as well as observed sunpots grouping around the equator for the entire cycle. http://www.ias.ac.in/jarch/jaa/21/193-196.pdf

    The onset of SC24 spots seems to contradict the theory i am thinking, but the catastrophe may still be coming once the polar cycle begins its slope back to the reverse polarity (which hasnt happened yet, so i am waiting for that before placing my red square for SC24).

    So essentially we are in the front row seat waiting for the curtain to come up.

  61. Read through both of those papers. The first one suggest a unified theory of Great Minima which has a sudden drop of activity that supresses the 11 year cycle and features a hard to discern but present 22 year cycle of consistent phase & amplitude. The base of the 22 yr phases are marked in the Maunder by Sunspot activity, as well as some maxima peaks, but otherwise are blanks. The sunspots never formed in the MM in the southern latitudes until the end of the MM and the return of the 11 yr subdued cycle.
    Very interesting reading.
    The curtain may come up only to fall right back down again.
    Randomness happens.

  62. nobwainer (16:24:41) :
    “phase catastrophes” is a term i picked up from a paper by USOSKIN AND MURSULA .They reference several other papers (which i haven’t read yet) on the topic but my understanding on the theory is that the sun goes through a period where both poles are the same polarity thus severely restricting the dynamo and possibly altering the strength of the next cycle.
    It happens often near maximum that both poles have the same polarity for a year or more [e.g. in 2001. For the dynamo, it is more important what the polarities are at minimum, and they are always different [at least back to 1912]. We know this because the polarities of a bipolar sunspot group depend on this, and that we have observed since 1917.
    The dynamo operates almost independently in the two hemispheres, so even with the same or different polarities the dynamo would still work. For the current cycle there is no doubt that the sunspot polarities and the polar region polarities are just as expected, so no catastrophe in sight.

  63. Fernando (14:27:30) :
    Leif:……how to explain both?
    Today we know how very well to explain all of this. I was describing the dilemma people had 120 years ago. At that time there was severe doubt that sunspots had anything to do with magnetic storms and the fact that there were many storms not related obviously to spots was taken as proof of the lack of physical connection…

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  65. Robert Bateman (18:53:26) :

    Very interesting reading.

    I must lookup the other papers that USOSKIN AND MURSULA refer to, see what else might be of interest. There does seem to be a moderate amount of work done on the topic. Leif’s response also leaves the door open i think as there is still a chance of the “catastrophe” to occur in the very near future. I will be watching the polar polarity graph. Also noted the science on the topic only goes back to 1912 which is still a century away from the last grand minimum.

  66. Leif Svalgaard (19:10:23)

    It happens often near maximum that both poles have the same polarity for a year or more [e.g. in 2001.

    At one maximum or more?

    Looking at the graph http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/south.gif
    and http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/north.gif
    and http://users.beagle.com.au/geoffsharp/Polar.jpg

    It seems to me in 2001 the south pole was near the zero line and natural fluctuations (wonder what cause those?) would take the south pole into pos and neg for a year or so, while the north pole is outside of that occurrence because it is not so close to the zero line . But the previous maximums look totally diff if i am not mistaken?…they don’t show a hint of the same polarity?

    Robert had a good summary of the “catastrophe” theory which i think opened another possibility. Another option is the poles dont change polarity for 22 yrs, which may substantially throw a “funk” into the system. I know you say the dynamo acts independently, but has that been tested with sophisticated equipment like we have today, to actually see that process over a prolonged period…. the last time was almost 2 centuries ago.

  67. David Archibald thinks that we are going to have a Dalton Minimum for sure.
    He presents his case at Warwick Hughes blog.
    David has an interesting graphic and writes:

    The above graph compares the average of three cycles, 21 to 23, from the late 20th century with three, 14 to 16, from the late 19th century (which had much colder weather). Also included is Solar Cycle 5, the first half of the Dalton Minimum.

    Given we are now 103 months from the peak of Solar Cycle 23, it is now too late to get a late 19th century-type outcome for Solar Cycle 24. Out of the 24 named solar cycles, Solar Cycle 24 is now the latest after Solar Cycle 5.

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=177

  68. nobwainer (04:32:39) :
    At one maximum or more?
    The paper you cited [by Makarov] has this:
    “In this epoch the structure of the magnetic field of the Sun was
    of a “monopole” type, i.e: both poles of the Sun had the same polarity. Such state of solar magnetic field was repeatedly observed in 1955–1982 yrs (Makarov 1984).”
    Even when Babcock discovered the polar field reversals fifty years ago [ApJ, 130, p.364, 1959], he remarked on this: “About the middle of 1957, the polarity […] near the south pole was reversed; reversal of the field near the north pole was not observed until November, 1958″.

    It seems to me in 2001 the south pole was near the zero line and natural fluctuations (wonder what cause those?)
    The WSO website has this disclaimer:
    “WSO sensitivity problems from CR 1970 – CR 1992 (November 2000 – July 2002) have been quantified and the data have been recalibrated. Contact us if you detect any anomalies.”.
    The uncorrected [and garbage] data is still used in the graph and the tables. They did not update the website [strictly speaking the website doesn’t say that they did (this was one of the answers I got when I complained…)]

    What should be remembered is that the polar fields are the result of essentially a random process whereby a very small amount of the total magnetic flux collects near the poles [to put it in perspective: the solar cycle produces ~3000 active regions. The magnetic flux that ends up in the polar regions corresponds to about 5 of these.]

  69. Ron: The paper you cite is why I say we will have a Dalton in SC24 with a max around 50.
    If the Sun is going to behave with some Randomness in it, then the only thing left in prediction is to compare against previous examples, and SC5 is a good choice.
    If Randomness in the Sun’s behavior is not modelable, then the biggest tragedy is the lack of data before Maunder Minimum to have examples to show when to expect another one.
    The single most consistent thing I can see from the data we do have is that extended cycle length tends to suck to intensity out of the next cycle….the Stagecoach is held up and Robbed.

  70. I’ll give you a thumbs up here, Lief, for SC24 could lie in between your prediction and an SC5 type. There is nothing that says that it cannot be a new type (one for which we have no comparison as we have only been watching for 400 yrs) and the max could be say…60.

  71. Robert Bateman (09:55:28) :
    for SC24 could lie in between your prediction and an SC5 type. There is nothing that says that it cannot be a new type (one for which we have no comparison as we have only been watching for 400 yrs) and the max could be say…60.
    If my prediction is not right on [65-80], my method in its present form doesn’t work and must be abandoned as a reliable precursor-type forecast [even if the physics were sound]. [note all the weasel words beginning to creep in :-)]

    When comparing with the sizes of previous cycles it should be borne in mind that there is a good chance that the official sunspot numbers for back then are too low, possibly by some 40% so that the sizes of cycles 5 and 6 were already about 55.

  72. vukcevic (10:41:39) :
    Is there a convincing explanation for the sunspot North-South (and vice-versa) excess.
    An explanation is convincing if it accords with you pre-conceived notions, otherwise not.
    The standard explanation is that there are two large-scale solar dynamos, one in the north and one in the south, and that they operate largely independently. So you must expect some transient imbalance [otherwise they wouldn’t be independent].

  73. Leif Svalgaard (11:12:42)
    blockquote cite=“An explanation is convincing if it accords with your pre-conceived notions, otherwise not.”
    Thanks. I am happy to take the above qualification as an encouragement to consider another logical possibility.
    I will assume that the Alfven’s current has certain effect on the solar surface events ( ? ). The current splits into two branches each having an independent effect on the appropriate hemisphere. This might appear as substituting cause for consequence, but a bidirectional relationship of two is possible if they are part of a feedback loop. Am I (as usually) starching logic too far?

  74. Leif Svalgaard (08:48:49)

    The paper you cited [by Makarov] has this:
    “In this epoch the structure of the magnetic field of the Sun was
    of a “monopole” type, i.e: both poles of the Sun had the same polarity. Such state of solar magnetic field was repeatedly observed in 1955–1982 yrs (Makarov 1984).”
    Even when Babcock discovered the polar field reversals fifty years ago [ApJ, 130, p.364, 1959], he remarked on this: “About the middle of 1957, the polarity […] near the south pole was reversed; reversal of the field near the north pole was not observed until November, 1958″

    As would be expected, but i was challenging your statement of re It happens often near maximum that both poles have the same polarity for a year or more [e.g. in 2001. near maximum being the important issue. Not sure if the data previous to 1976 is diff, but after 1976 the sunspot maximums occur at hi points above the zero line (i am assuming the only time poles can be the same polarity is when they are near the zero line where the incoming overpowers the outgoing flux?) ….2000/2001 because of the weakening trend puts the activity close to the zero line at time of maximum. Do we have reliable data pre 1976 that shows a solar maximum near the zero line….in fig 1 on your referred paper 1970 looks like a possible candidate for such an event?

  75. Leif…i think i can see where perhaps we are talking about 2 diff aspects. Your statement is directed at when the poles start to make their changes where mine is when the actual polarity changes.

    When considering the “catastrophe” theory i would suspect that the poles being the same or not changing for 22 years would be over the majority of the cycle.

  76. vukcevic (11:57:17) :
    I will assume that the Alfven’s current has certain effect on the solar surface events ( ? ). The current splits into two branches each having an independent effect on the appropriate hemisphere.
    The current [and it is not Alfven’s current: his goes the wrong way] is perpendicular to the magnetic field. Since the latter is radial near the Sun, the current encircles the Sun rather than going into and out of the Sun. There are some smaller effect due to the magnetic field not being strictly radial [bent by solar rotation], but they are just to small to have any effect. Rather than the HCS being a cause of something on the Sun, it is something on the Sun that is the cause of the HCS.

  77. ‘When comparing with the sizes of previous cycles it should be borne in mind that there is a good chance that the official sunspot numbers for back then are too low, possibly by some 40% so that the sizes of cycles 5 and 6 were already about 55.’

    Which would make your prediction of 65-80 work for a SC5 & 6, as those 55’s were too low and should be 70??
    If you can predict a Dalton cycle, then you are good to go.
    If you can predict a Maunder, then they are going to hang a Nobel on you.

  78. nobwainer (18:06:09) :
    Leif…i think i can see where perhaps we are talking about 2 diff aspects. Your statement is directed at when the poles start to make their changes where mine is when the actual polarity changes.
    Perhaps define ‘change’…
    Since ‘polarity’ is the SIGN [like -1 or +1] of the field, then I interpret ‘actual polarity changes’ as the polarity changing sign from – to + or from + to -. The polarity changes at solar maximum. The other ‘change’ is dP/dt, i.e. the change of the polar fields with time. For several years before solar minimum dP/dt is close to zero [P is ‘flat’], then when the new cycle kicks in, the new flux begins to cancel out the old flux and dP/dt changes. Which one is it?

  79. Robert Bateman (18:14:29) :
    Which would make your prediction of 65-80 work for a SC5 & 6, as those 55’s were too low and should be 70??
    No, the 55 is the corrected value.

    If you can predict a Maunder, then they are going to hang a Nobel on you.
    Many people have predicted that, see e.g.

    Solar Activity Heading for a Maunder Minimum?
    Schatten, K. H.; Tobiska, W. K.

    American Astronomical Society, SPD meeting #34, #06.03; Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 35, p.817, 2003
    Abstract
    Long-range (few years to decades) solar activity prediction techniques vary greatly in their methods. They range from examining planetary orbits, to spectral analyses (e.g. Fourier, wavelet and spectral analyses), to artificial intelligence methods, to simply using general statistical techniques. Rather than concentrate on statistical/mathematical/numerical methods, we discuss a class of methods which appears to have a “physical basis.” Not only does it have a physical basis, but this basis is rooted in both “basic” physics (dynamo theory), but also solar physics (Babcock dynamo theory). The class we discuss is referred to as “precursor methods,” originally developed by Ohl, Brown and Williams and others, using geomagnetic observations.
    My colleagues and I have developed some understanding for how these methods work and have expanded the prediction methods using “solar dynamo precursor” methods, notably a “SODA” index (SOlar Dynamo Amplitude). These methods are now based upon an understanding of the Sun’s dynamo processes- to explain a connection between how the Sun’s fields are generated and how the Sun broadcasts its future activity levels to Earth. This has led to better monitoring of the Sun’s dynamo fields and is leading to more accurate prediction techniques. Related to the Sun’s polar and toroidal magnetic fields, we explain how these methods work, past predictions, the current cycle, and predictions of future of solar activity levels for the next few solar cycles.

    The surprising result of these long-range predictions is a rapid decline in solar activity, starting with cycle #24. If this trend continues, we may see the Sun heading towards a “Maunder” type of solar activity minimum – an extensive period of reduced levels of solar activity. For the solar physicists, who enjoy studying solar activity, we hope this isn’t so, but for NASA, which must place and maintain satellites in low earth orbit (LEO), it may help with reboost problems. Space debris, and other aspects of objects in LEO will also be affected.

  80. The late Dr. Theodre Landscheidt has made a Maunder Minimum prediction by 2030.
    What’s wrong with his paper? (not the first time I put up the question, never recieved an answer) I only know that David Archibald mentions Landscheidt in his papers without making a connection to his findings.

  81. nobwainer (18:06:09) :
    When considering the “catastrophe” theory i would suspect that the poles being the same or not changing for 22 years would be over the majority of the cycle.
    My problem with most of this [actually most of everybody’s posts :-) ] is the vague language used [for, what I ,at least, consider to be, good reasons]. In some of the same literature that flourishes around this topic, cycle ‘interruption’ is often used with some unspecified meaning].
    Here is how I see it: When a solar cycle starts, the bipolar spot pairs have opposite polarity. The polarity of the ‘follower’ spot preferentially [because of Joy’s law] drifts to the poles and cancels out the old polar field while building up a new polar field with reversed polarity [this is traditional wisdom – we actually don’t know that that is the process – it just looks that way, but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, etc]
    If for some reason [your catastrophe], the new spots that come up do not have polarity opposite to that of the previous cycle, then the ‘follower’ flux would not cancel out the old polar fields, but instead result in a polar field of twice the strength, which in turn will case a super-cycle the next time around [assuming that the catastrophe was a short duration ‘event’ caused by some unusual circumstance]. The cycle after that would just be back to normal because the singular event causing the catastrophe has passed. So the result of a catastrophe would be a super-cycle ending whatever minimum of other condition the Sun was in. Whatever meager evidence we have suggest that Grand Minima come suddenly and that recovery to ‘normal’ conditions is a gradual, drawn-out affair [no supercycle]. All of the above is, of course, just idle speculation, as there are no mechanism to cause a catastrophe or interruption in the first place.

  82. Leif Svalgaard (20:14:04) :
    nobwainer (18:06:09) :
    When a solar cycle starts, the bipolar spot pairs have opposite polarity. The polarity of the ‘follower’ spot preferentially [because of Joy’s law] drifts to the poles and cancels out the old polar field while building up a new polar field with reversed polarity

    An argument that sometimes crops up here is that, suppose the new cycle is teeny, tiny, then perhaps it will not have enough flux to reverse the old polar fields, causing the next cycle to be even smaller, etc ad infinitum, leading to the total disappearance of solar activity. Against this speaks the fact the polar fields are such a small fraction [1 in a 1000] of the sunspot fields, that there will always be enough flux to go around, plus the fact that there still is a cycle [so it hasn’t disappeared].
    Now, you can add further hypotheses, like, perhaps, the meridional circulation [that carries the flux to the poles] undergoes a catastrophe, or some other flow or oscillation or whatever. But the more elaborate ad-hoc you have to be to make it work, the less likely it seems to me.

  83. “If you can predict a Dalton cycle, then you are good to go.
    If you can predict a Maunder, then they are going to hang a Nobel on you.”

    Leif would have to share with dozens of others who have predictions that fall in the same range if that were the case. But I suspect the Nobel would want to see more than one “successful” cycle prediction as well as some hard science about the underlying physics instead of trying to support ideas of certain real, hypothetical or imagined physical processes being responsible, by being “right on” about guessing sunspot numbers.

  84. Leif Svalgaard (20:34:10) :

    An argument that sometimes crops up here is that, suppose the new cycle is teeny, tiny, then perhaps it will not have enough flux to reverse the old polar fields, causing the next cycle to be even smaller, etc ad infinitum,

    Leif, right now we seem to have so many people and theories on the chopping block. All really are in the dark and cannot predict further than 1 cycle. I think you will be much closer this cycle than most but think your method of predicting using the polar strength from previous cycles is only a stop gap approach but has merit as i think the polar strength is an indication for whats going on in the background. Whats needed is why the polar strength is weakening and i am sure you would love to crack that, like me. Lets watch this next cycle and maybe something different might surface , its been a long time coming and we just might be in the right place and time.

  85. How would you be able to predict a MM using previous data if there wasn’t a whole lot of observation prior to the MM? Prior to the Maunder, we have at best 3 cycles poorly sketched, and it’s difficult to see the cycle lengths etc. The only thing I can really tell about them is that the 1st and 3rd were fairly normal, and possibly the middle one was a Dalton type.
    Call it a cruel joke, but maybe the telescope came 100 yrs or better too late to really make a difference in Solar Cycle Prediction.

  86. nobwainer (03:37:30) :
    All really are in the dark and cannot predict further than 1 cycle.
    I think that further than one cycle is not possible anyway.
    Whats needed is why the polar strength is weakening and i am sure you would love to crack that, like me.
    Since the strength of the polar fields seems to depend on a random process [flux transport by supergranule random walk, retaining the flux corresponding to only 5 regions out of 3000] there does not have to be a background process regulating that. Pure chance works fine. This does not mean that the polar fields vary randomly from cycle to cycle [since the number of regions vary from cycle to cycle], just that random fluctuations can help getting out of a ‘rut’ of low cycles or break a row of high cycles, for instance. Give chance a chance :-)

  87. Not to get all Art Bell, but, there may be some factual basis to how the Maya viewed time, and, how they architected their calendar. While I do not believe 2012 is “the end of the world” I am increasingly open to the possibility that it is a looming mode change (or, a looming set of circumstances owing to a mode change which has already occurred or is occurring). I would further be open to consider the possibility that these changes are semi periodic, or, otherwise constrained, in such as way that over, say, 10000 years, “the ancients” developed a sense of them, and, by the by, learned to somewhat anticipate them.

  88. Leif Svalgaard (18:08:10) :
    vukcevic (11:57:17) : I will assume that the Alfven’s current has certain effect on the solar surface events ( ? ) etc

    Thank you Dr. Svalgaard. I accept that there may be number (2 or more) currents, of various orientation and designation, but certainly they must interact via their associated magnetic fields. Whenever there is an interaction there is a chance of a feedback. In my view for a feedback to affect oscillations it is not strength of the feedback signal that is most crucial, it is its direction (+ or -) and susceptibility of the system to oscillation. Required energy is supplied by the source of oscillations and even weakest of the feedback signals will eventually cause a build up (or down) of oscillations with power which is number of orders of magnitude greater the feedback signal itself.
    If Heliospheric currents constitute a close electrical circuit (http://www.plasma-universe.com/index.php/Image:Heliospheric-current-circuit.png ) then there is a good chance for rise of a feedback.
    Recently I came across this statement:
    “This seems to mean that any consideration of the solar magnetic field generation should take into account the heliospheric current circuit as well as the currents flowing inside the Sun. Such a conclusion corroborates our recent result (Israelevich et al. 2000) that there is a feedback between the solar wind flow and the main solar magnetic field.” (http://www.aanda.org/index.php?option=article&access=standard&Itemid=129&url=/articles/aa/full/2001/34/aah2814/aah2814.right.html)
    I assume the authors are referring to a bidirectional interaction.
    As far as existence of a double dynamo is concerned for number of reasons I remain highly sceptical.

  89. Leif Svalgaard (18:08:10) :
    vukcevic (11:57:17) : I will assume that the Alfven’s current has certain effect on the solar surface events ( ? ) etc

    Thank you Dr. Svalgaard. I accept that there may be number (2 or more) currents, of various orientation and designation, but certainly they must interact via their associated magnetic fields. Whenever there is an interaction there is a chance of a feedback. In my view for a feedback to affect oscillations it is not strength of the feedback signal that is most crucial, it is its direction (+ or -) and susceptibility of the system to oscillation. Required energy is supplied by the source of oscillations and even weakest of the feedback signals will eventually cause a build up (or down) of oscillations with power which is number of orders of magnitude greater the feedback signal itself.
    If Heliospheric currents constitute a close electrical circuit

    then there is a good chance for rise of a feedback.
    Recently I came across this statement:
    “This seems to mean that any consideration of the solar magnetic field generation should take into account the heliospheric current circuit as well as the currents flowing inside the Sun. Such a conclusion corroborates our recent result (Israelevich et al. 2000) that there is a feedback between the solar wind flow and the main solar magnetic field.”

    http://www.aanda.org/index.php?option=article&access=standard&Itemid=129&url=/articles/aa/full/2001/34/aah2814/aah2814.right.html

    I assume the authors are referring to a bidirectional interaction.
    As far as existence of a double dynamo is concerned for number of reasons I remain highly sceptical.

  90. vukcevic (10:43:54) :
    Assuming there are such interacting currents. what do they do? What specific effects do they have? And how i sthat related to the solar cycle.

    There are actually many dynamos on the Sun. Of different sizes and lifetimes. Some are global, some are local. I will concede that it is unlikely that there are exactly TWO dynamos, I would say thousands are more likely.

  91. vukcevic (10:43:54) :
    that there is a feedback between the solar wind flow and the main solar magnetic field.
    sufficiently vague to mean almost anything. In actual fact, the IS a very strong connection, but it goes the other way: It is the main solar field that generates the solar wind. One can even put a hard number of that: The observations show that the Sun delivers ~600 kW/Wb to power the solar wind. This power from magnetic flux law also governs the winds from other stars.

  92. I’m getting reports on solarcycle24.com of new sunspots in addition to 1005. But I don’t see any visible image showing 1005 any more, and nothing on the new spots by Catania.

  93. nobwainer (16:48:06) :
    solarcycle24.com is reporting SC24 spot in southern hemisphere…is that correct?
    Yes, and there is also a growing SC23 area near central meridian. No spot yet.

  94. can you explain Leif how a SC24 spot can be in the southern hemisphere….is it just simply that the leading spot has a different polarity to a leading spot that might exist in the northern hemisphere right now?

  95. I’m not finding anybody’s images of sunspots except good old Catania. From looking at their image this morning, and doing a projection myself, they are imaging the Sun at very high resolution. I couldn’t pick up thos spots in a 6″ APO for crying out loud.
    I call what Catania is up to image historgram stretching. That’s great if you are looking for faint galaxies to count in distant clusters, but this is ridiculous.

  96. nobwainer (18:16:02) :
    can you explain Leif how a SC24 spot can be in the southern hemisphere
    Spots from any cycle can be in both hemispheres.

    is it just simply that the leading spot has a different polarity to a leading spot that might exist in the northern hemisphere right now?
    Yes the two hemispheres have opposite polarities for the leading spots. Also, the high latitude is a clue.
    ———
    As far as I can see, the SC23 area has now produced a sunspeck on SOHO MDI.

  97. I have checked all the other observatories I can find, Mt. Wilson, Calgoora, Uccle and the last sunspot sighted was by Mt. Wilson on Oct. 12th. Catania I suspect is playing Hubble imager with sunspots, coming up with data that is skewing the real picture. I have watched Calgoora since this last spot 1005 appeared, and it faded off on the 12th just as Mt. Wilson last recorded it. I object to Catania polluting the pool of sunspot data just because they can. The Sept. 11th spot and one other spotted by Catania falls also under this category of CCD sunpot, and should be reviewed and the record corrected.
    If Catania and other wish to further the knowledge of sunpots at minim using advanced imagers, that’s fine, but don’t do it at the expense of historical records that need to be maintained of the highest possible integrity.

  98. Mt. Wilson: 2008, Friday the 17th of October, 2008, 15:27 ut, Seeing 2.5, J. Boyden
    No sunspots seen today.
    Uccle: Image Continuum 2, no spots visible but numbered.
    Royal Observatory of Belgium Drawing: No spots drawn 8:00 ut
    IPS: No spots visible on Calgoora White Light Image
    But we have noaa reporting sunspot # yesterday to be 24.
    Yesterday was no different than today: Spots reported not visible on projections but on ccd images and Magnetograms and H-Alpha.
    Are they that desperate?
    Seems like it.

  99. From the “Annals of the Astrophysical Observatory of the Smithsonian Institute”, 1908:

    “Mr. Langley expressed the hope that careful study of the radiation of the sun might eventually lead to the discovery of means of forecasting climatic conditions for some time in advance. It is believed that the present volume will aid materially to show how far that hope may be justified, for it contains careful and comparable measurements of the solar radiation, extending over several years. Those indicate that the sun’s radiation alters in its intensity from time to time, and that those alterations are sufficient to affect the temperature of the earth very appreciably.”

    http://books.google.com/books?id=FcIRAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA174&lpg=PA174&dq=Langley,+%22The+Temperature+of+the+Moon&source=web&ots=_MWX2zdg61&sig=QzykQ4v7AuN99VOntIfYkDK3qb8&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=8&ct=result#PPR2,M1

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  101. Pingback: New essay claims- “Not to Worry: Solar Magnetic Activity for Cycle 24 Is Increasing” « An Honest Climate Debate

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