NASA: Are Sunspots Disappearing?

From NASA News: Are Sunspots Disappearing?

September 3, 2009: The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing?

“Personally, I’m betting that sunspots are coming back,” says researcher Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. But, he allows, “there is some evidence that they won’t.”

Penn’s colleague Bill Livingston of the NSO has been measuring the magnetic fields of sunspots for the past 17 years, and he has found a remarkable trend. Sunspot magnetism is on the decline:

Above: Sunspot magnetic fields measured by Livingston and Penn from 1992 – Feb. 2009 using an infrared Zeeman splitting technique. [more]

“Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year,” says Penn. “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”

This disappearing act is possible because sunspots are made of magnetism. The “firmament” of a sunspot is not matter but rather a strong magnetic field that appears dark because it blocks the upflow of heat from the sun’s interior. If Earth lost its magnetic field, the solid planet would remain intact, but if a sunspot loses its magnetism, it ceases to exist.

“According to our measurements, sunspots seem to form only if the magnetic field is stronger than about 1500 gauss,” says Livingston. “If the current trend continues, we’ll hit that threshold in the near future, and solar magnetic fields would become too weak to form sunspots.””This work has caused a sensation in the field of solar physics,” comments NASA sunspot expert David Hathaway, who is not directly involved in the research. “It’s controversial stuff.”

The controversy is not about the data. “We know Livingston and Penn are excellent observers,” says Hathaway. “The trend that they have discovered appears to be real.” The part colleagues have trouble believing is the extrapolation. Hathaway notes that most of their data were taken after the maximum of Solar Cycle 23 (2000-2002) when sunspot activity naturally began to decline. “The drop in magnetic fields could be a normal aspect of the solar cycle and not a sign that sunspots are permanently vanishing.”

Penn himself wonders about these points. “Our technique is relatively new and the data stretches back in time only 17 years. We could be observing a temporary downturn that will reverse itself.”

The technique they’re using was pioneered by Livingston at the NASA-supported McMath-Pierce solar telescope near Tucson. He looks at a spectral line emitted by iron atoms in the sun’s atmosphere. Sunspot magnetic fields cause the line to split in two—an effect called “Zeeman splitting” after Dutch physicist Pieter Zeeman who discovered the phenomenon in the 19th century. The size of the split reveals the intensity of the magnetism.

Right: Zeeman splitting of spectral lines from a strongly-magnetized sunspot. [more]

Astronomers have been measuring sunspot magnetic fields in this general way for nearly a century, but Livingston added a twist. While most researchers measure the splitting of spectral lines in the visible part of the sun’s spectrum, Livingston decided to try an infra-red spectral line. Infrared lines are much more sensitive to the Zeeman effect and provide more accurate answers. Also, he dedicated himself to measuring a large number of sunspots—more than 900 between 1998 and 2005 alone. The combination of accuracy and numbers revealed the downturn.

If sunspots do go away, it wouldn’t be the first time. In the 17th century, the sun plunged into a 70-year period of spotlessness known as the Maunder Minimum that still baffles scientists. The sunspot drought began in 1645 and lasted until 1715; during that time, some of the best astronomers in history (e.g., Cassini) monitored the sun and failed to count more than a few dozen sunspots per year, compared to the usual thousands.

“Whether [the current downturn] is an omen of long-term sunspot decline, analogous to the Maunder Minimum, remains to be seen,” Livingston and Penn caution in a recent issue of EOS. “Other indications of solar activity suggest that sunspots must return in earnest within the next year.”

Whatever happens, notes Hathaway, “the sun is behaving in an interesting way and I believe we’re about to learn something new.”

h/t to Michael Ronayne

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191 thoughts on “NASA: Are Sunspots Disappearing?

  1. At first glance, it looks as if the plot is splice between a low resolution and high resolution dataset.

  2. “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”

    Yikes! Since when is nature linear? Somebody should make up a rule about extrapolating a fit to data without there being a clear cut physical model behind the fit.

  3. NASA actually used the words “Maunder Minimum” for the first time. I await the response of the Washington ruling class with breathless anticipation. In a sane society wishing to maintain a technological civilization in the face of a very real and possibly catastrophic cooling event, which will occur by 2015, we would be building nuclear power plants, expanding the electrical grid, drilling for oil and natural gas and doing everything to increase our supplies of energy. Instead the United States finds itself in the control of an anti-technology religious cult.

    Also see this report in Red Orbit:

    Sunspots On The Decline

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/space/1747730/sunspots_on_the_decline/

    Michael Ronayne
    Nutley, NJ

  4. Is this where I observe that a decrease in sunspot magnetism must be causing Global Warming? (and then run like heck, ducking and with my hands over my head to ward off projectiles)

  5. Fortunately, the sun has no effect on climate. Or weather. Not even sure if it affects the difference between day and night.

    REPLY – It must do. Tmax is almost always during the day and Tmin is almost always at night for any given location. ~ Evan]

  6. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

    I find it interesting that we obviously don’t understand the sun as well as we thought we did (except possibly Leif of course), yet confidence abounds about old Sol’s effects (or lack thereof) here on earth. The one thing that Mr. Hathaway has said in the past couple years that is likely to come to pass “….we’re about to learn something new.”

  7. “… failed to count more than a few dozen sunspots per year …” There were 8 in 2008 and 10 so far this year. When will we get up to a few dozen per year? — John M Reynolds

  8. While it remains to be seen, right now, I see nothing going on that says L&P’s trend will bottom out and go back up.
    All I see are plages and miniplages, some borne to actual spots, some blinking in & out.
    I see a lot more blinkers on the EIT’s than I do the Continuum or the Magnetogram.
    I see less organization and structure than was seen last cycle, and I see a decline since 2007 that goes unabated.
    Does anyone see something that says L&P will bottom out?

    Assuming nothing changes:
    Is L&P eating the goodies out of the spots faster than the cycle can build?
    Or can the cycle outgrow L&P erosion and make a measurable maximum before the Sun totally wipes out on the downramp to the next minima?

  9. Mark:

    There is a CD. Click on “more” found under the pic.

    The DASL compact disc contains over 5,000 solar magnetograms obtained on every clear day which the KPVT magnetograph was operational since 1974–slightly more than a complete 22-year magnetic cycle. This data is represented in two forms: large compressed “still” images that will be used to perform the active longitude investigation, and as a “QuickTime” movie that can be played to demonstrate the changes in the solar magnetic activity over time. Playing the 25 -year movie allows one to scroll through the data to quickly locate dates and areas of interest. In addition to the magnetograms and QuickTime movie, the software for performing this project is available through the CD.

  10. This is clearly the result of technology… somehow sucking the magnetism out of the sun! There is an undeniable correlation with increasing technology and declining solar activity! When will we learn, that mung beans and hemp are the answer to a simpler life style that will prevent us from destroying the universe! The only logical solution, is to fire all our nuk’s at mercury in the hope of breaking it free of its orbit and launching it into the sun… which will re fire up the sun(somehow) and get things back on there natural path. ;-)

  11. REPLY – It must do. Tmax is almost always during the day and Tmin is almost always at night for any given location. ~ Evan]

    I note you cover your ass with almost always.

    BTW. What’s the best time to record max/min for a given day? (For an experiment, let you know after I’ve finished.)

    DaveE.

  12. We must take action immediately!

    I propose we lobby the our respective givernments to launch huge magnets at the sun before we are plunged into the Watts Minimum Ice Age (WMIA). That and pump out a heck of a lot more CO2…. and stick paper bags over our heads.

    Yeah, that about covers it.

  13. Mark Bowlin (17:50:06) :

    And that something new we are about to learn may not be what we would like to see. We are truly a captive audience. No exit.
    Should we not be busy digging up the Maunder and Dalton drawings that survive and getting them out digitally into the light of day?
    With a movement to run an agenda in polar opposition to where the Sun is currently heading, it’s wise to get a head start, should things pan out in the wrong direction.
    I can’t tell who’s the bigger stubborn mule: The Climate Changers or the Sun.

  14. J.Hansford (17:53:10) :

    Starts off smooth, then gets all spikey.

    That’s sparse measurements to more frequent & systematic measurements

    DaveE.

  15. Bulldust (17:56:41) :

    …. and stick paper bags over our heads.

    Some already have.
    I like your analogy. Quote of the week material. Got my vote.

  16. Michael Ronayne (17:12:19) :

    NASA actually used the words “Maunder Minimum” for the first time.

    Not quite. The search engine on NASA’s home page picks up twenty hits on that term.

  17. If my memory serves me correctly (and it sometimes doesn’t) when a magnetic field splits the energy levels and results in two different components at slightly different wavelengths those two components are also plane polarized perpendicular to each other, which gives an additional clue that you are seeing a zeeman split, and not some other interloper line (whatever the blazes that might be. There may also be some sorts of three way splits, where a single line calves off an upper and lower pair that are perpendicularly polarized, and equidistant from the original line that remains unpolarized.
    But now I am way the hell out on thin (arctic) ice because that comes from the bowels of my memory and not from any recent reference to the literature or textbooks. I used to teach Atomic Physics but only at a freshman level; actually pre-med students; so we sure as heck didn’t mention anybody beginning with a zed.

    The Zeeman effect is about like a Phillips #2 screwdriver to an astronomer; they have that stuff in their shower water. In my next re-incarnation I plan to be an astronomer.

    George

  18. I would disagree that the Sun affects day and night temperatures. That would be Earth’s fault. So many times we fall into thinking that resembles flat Earth thinking. Such as: We have day and then we have night and the Sun determines this. But the Sun always shines. It knows no day versus night. Thus to be more correct, the Sun has no measurable affect on day versus night temperatures.

  19. I propose that we identify all of the excess humans and ask them to stop breathing.

    Watch out when someone starts talking about sacrifices. They usually have a knife, and it’s not pointed at themselves.

  20. Pam: If the day comes when L&P does the 3rd possibility, instead of continuing on it’s present downward course or leveling off prior to heading back up, and does a radical plunge to zero, then you shall have your unequivocal test.
    Otherwise, there is an eclipse of the Sun at least twice a year with which to take measurements. Alas, they don’t last all day. For that you need Arctic or Antarctic night.
    That would be no fun and I don’t wish that on anybody. Well, maybe not everybody.

  21. I note you cover your ass with almost always.

    Just stating the facts.

    BTW. What’s the best time to record max/min for a given day? (For an experiment, let you know after I’ve finished.)

    From what I gather, Tmax is usually a bit after noon and Tmin is usually a bit after midnight. This varies of course, as the wind or any other factor dominating local conditions can cause a sea change at a moment’s notice.

    But consider desert conditions as an extreme example. It can get extremely hot during the day but quite cold at night.

    NOAA takes this into account and has had to make TOBS bias corrections because the times temperatures were taken had changed over the last century. If day/night measurements were the same there would be no need whatever for those corrections.

    There is considerable debate as to the sun’s effect on climate over the long term. But the day/night dichotomy is quite stark.

  22. evanmjones (19:05:41) :

    Just a pedantic observation sorry… from someone who has spent many a night sleeping under the stars… the coldest temperatures are normally shortly before dawn, this is true in the tropics, as it is here in the sub tropics, so i suppose its relatively uniform the world over. (o course excluding those times when a mass o warm air moves in)

  23. Overdue for a quiet period. Mean monthly number per 70 years.
    [IMG]http://i221.photobucket.com/albums/dd277/shamus1955/mean754.png[/IMG]

  24. Actually, that makes a lot of sense. It also fits in with the sun’s role, as just before dawn is when lack of sunlight is at its longest point.

    The output of the sun would have to be changing for it to influence climate over long periods. This is a matter of great and ongoing debate. But the day/night differences are well known and quite indisputable.

  25. Solar activity has been on the downslope since SC21, and now we are heading into the [un-named] Minimum. Wouldn’t you expect a decrease in the overall magnetism of the Sun?

    Nothing new going on here in my book.

  26. Which is disappearing faster: The Arctic Ice or the Sunspots?
    The Arctic Ice I cannot see, I can see the Sunspots are not there.

  27. jmrSudbury (17:52:12) : ‘… failed to count more than a few dozen sunspots per year …’

    There were 8 in 2008 and 10 so far this year. When will we get up to a few dozen per year? — John M Reynolds

    When it happens in their dreams.

  28. tokyoboy (19:40:26) said :
    It seems Mr. Watts now should perform an incantation.

    Well, I was wrong that Anthony has completely lost his Sunspot Mojo, but it IS pretty clearly in decline. That last Watts Effect spot, poor little weenie pore of a thing, was just sad.

    It’s just depressing to see a man’s Mojo petering-out like this.

    Maybe we could chip-in and buy one of those pump things like Austin Powers had.

  29. evanmjones (19:05:41) :

    “What’s the best time to record max/min for a given day? (For an experiment, let you know after I’ve finished.)”

    I’ve noticed on several occasions that summer days tend to reach their highest temperatures around 3:30PM (daylight time). I expect that, similar to MikeE’s comment that min temps tend to be just before dawn, max temps should be after solar noon. My guess is that it varies from 1/2 to 1 hour past noon during winter months to 2 to 2 1/2 hours past (solar) noon during the summer months.

  30. George E. Smith (18:08:23) :
    If my memory serves me correctly (and it sometimes doesn’t) when a magnetic field splits the energy levels and results in two different components at slightly different wavelengths those two components are also plane polarized perpendicular to each other, which gives an additional clue that you are seeing a zeeman split, and not some other interloper line (whatever the blazes that might be. There may also be some sorts of three way splits, where a single line calves off an upper and lower pair that are perpendicularly polarized, and equidistant from the original line that remains unpolarized.

    Looks good to me George but I have to go a long way back! It depends on the transition being looked at, the simplest gives splitting into a triplet as you described above, because of the different polarisation when viewing a sunspot from directly above the upper and lower lines are visible so a doublet is observed. For some species (Lithium?) the sun’s field is strong enough to get Paschen-Stark splitting which gives even numbers of lines.

  31. NOAA Weather Radio gives T-Min at 5 am at Sea-Tac Airport in their Daily Almanac segment during Daylight Saving Time and 4 am during Standard Time. I’ve started listening for a 6 am or 7 am Min Temp at Sea-Tac that is lower but I haven’t caught them yet. Shouldn’t T-Min be the lowest recorded temp. in the 24 hour day?

  32. MikeE wrote :

    “…The only logical solution, is to fire all our nuk’s at mercury in the hope of breaking it free of its orbit and launching it into the sun… which will re fire up the sun …”

    Does the sun have external sources of fuel – small though it may be? (Sometimes a comet ends up going into the sun.) How much matter does Its gravitational force pull in per some unit of time? Since the sun is a fusion furnace, any element below iron on the periodic chart should provide it energy.

  33. Michael Ronayne (17:12:19) :NASA actually used the words “Maunder Minimum” for the first time.

    Mike Abbott (18:07:21) :Not quite. The search engine on NASA’s home page picks up twenty hits on that term.

    Not so sure that’s what Michael meant. You are interpreting that too literally. Of course the term Maunder Minimum comes up everywhere. Google it and you get 70,700 results!!

    Poetic license. He was inferring that NASA was actually hinting and juxtaposing the current historic uncertainty regarding the sun….to the uncertainty of that time [can't say it....you know....the Maunder Minimum....ssshhh!].

    Regardless…we as a species need to be prepared, and we are not becuase of the the Gore-Holdren smokescreen. So we know one thing for a fact: our world leaders are clueless.

    So, Michael is right…at least NASA is starting to hint and think outside their bureaucratic box!

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  34. We know that to produce magnetic fields, the Sun requires of strong macroscopic electric currents (1). However, we are not sure about what the origin of those macroscopic electrical currents is. Larmor, Steenbeck, Krause and Rädler, and Cowling and Parker attributed the generation of strong electric current to the solar dynamo (2)

    A systematic question could be: If sunspots are created by strong magnetic fields and those magnetic fields are generated by macroscopic electric currents, and the latter is generated by the solar dynamo which is continually creating and destroying the solar magnetic fields (3), what could be happening in the Sun’s core during solar minimums? A regular response is that the thermonuclear activity is decreasing. The problem is to find the reason of the decrease of solar activity. If one resort to classical physics, one would be stumble upon many uncertainties. However, quantum mechanics can give explanations based on observations from natural phenomena.

    1. Shu, Frank H. The physical universe: an introduction to astronomy. 1982. University Science Books. Sausalito, CA. Page 99.

    2. Antia, H. M., Bhatnagar, A. , Ulmschneider, Peter Lectures on solar physics. 2003. Springer-Verlag Berlin. Page 174

    3. http://science.nasa.gov/ssl/PAD/solar/solar-b_facts.stm

  35. MikeE wrote :

    “…The only logical solution, is to fire all our nuk’s at mercury in the hope of breaking it free of its orbit and launching it into the sun… which will re fire up the sun …”

    I hope Obama doesn’t see this…

  36. savethesharks (21:48:54) :
    “Maunder Minimum” for the first time.[...]
    Regardless…we as a species need to be prepared,

    If the L&P effect was the cause of the Maunder Minimum [the spots were there, but were just invisible] then the solar magnetic field did not go away. We know from cosmic ray proxy studies that the solar modulation of cosmic rays was still present during the MM and reconstructions of the Heliospheric Magnetic Field also show that while a tad weaker, the HMF was still in place, so TSI was probably not significantly weaker either, so another MM may not mean a significant climate effect [if one subscribes to the Sun being a major driver of said climate].

  37. Mike Abbott (18:07:21) :

    “Not quite. The search engine on NASA’s home page picks up twenty hits on that term.”

    If you had done a more accurate Google Advanced Search you would have found that the count was closer to 1,460 but some of the references are in the links pointing to other pages:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=%22Maunder+Minimum%22+site%3Anasa.gov

    This is the first NASA has used the term in the context of the current solar minimum. OK, that is not quite true either, in the July 20, 2009 interview in the New York Times, Dr. Hathaway discounted the possibility of a Maunder Minimum and stated that at worst we would only have a Dalton Minimum, when the NY Times reported:

    “Among some global warming skeptics, there is speculation that the Sun may be on the verge of falling into an extended slumber similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, several sunspot-scarce decades during the 17th and 18th centuries that coincided with an extended chilly period.

    Most solar physicists do not think anything that odd is going on with the Sun. With the recent burst of sunspots, “I don’t see we’re going into that,” Dr. Hathaway said last week.

    Still, something like the Dalton Minimum — two solar cycles in the early 1800s that peaked at about an average of 50 sunspots — lies in the realm of the possible, Dr. Hathaway said.”

    How we have this statement by NASA:

    “If sunspots do go away, it wouldn’t be the first time. In the 17th century, the sun plunged into a 70-year period of spotlessness known as the Maunder Minimum that still baffles scientists.”

    Not bad for that lucky old Sun with nothing to do but go from a Dalton Minimum to a Maunder Minimum in just six short weeks, keep up the good work Sol. I for one intend to put my legs up and enjoy the circus, so bring in the AGW clowns. The nice thing about this is that no one knows what is going to happen and we are totally unprepared if the worse occurs because thirty years, catering to an environmentalist religious cult. I am now very grateful that the environmentalists bet the farm on Anthropogenic Global Warming, we can now expose the fools for exactly what they are. If Drs. Livingston and Penn are correct we can discredit their entire agenda.

    Michael Ronayne

  38. Nasif Nahle (21:59:13) :
    We know that to produce magnetic fields, the Sun requires of strong macroscopic electric currents
    No, electric currents are by-products of plasma movements and magnetic fields. There are no electric fields in the rest-frame of a plasma. The solar dynamo in the convection zone amplifies existing magnetic fields and the solar core is not involved. Although there are many unknowns about the solar cycle, there are also many knowns.

  39. I work outside at 6 am every morning and my observation is that the temperature drops just as the sun rises due to increasing wind movement and wind chill. Am I right?

  40. >Leif Svalgaard (22:37:01) : We know from cosmic ray proxy studies that the solar modulation of cosmic rays was still present during the MM and reconstructions of the Heliospheric Magnetic Field also show that while a tad weaker, the HMF was still in place, so TSI was probably not significantly weaker either, so another MM may not mean a significant climate effect [if one subscribes to the Sun being a major driver of said climate].

    In Norway we have no historical evidence for aurora during the Maunder Minimum. For example Petter Dass (1647-1707), the foremost Norwegian poet in his time, does not mention the aurora.

    Are there historical evidence that the aurora did exist during the Maunder minimum?

  41. The Farmer’s Almanac, whose method reputedly uses sunspot activity as one of several major indicators, predicts “an ice sandwich” for the U.S. this winter. Has anyone ever compared the Almanac’s predictive record with NOAH’s or any of the other super-computer equipped organizations? I’d bet on the old geezer with the green eye-shade and a slide-rule in hand who’s behind the Almanac’s predictions.

    CH

  42. David Ermer (17:06:59) :

    “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”

    Yikes! Since when is nature linear? Somebody should make up a rule about extrapolating a fit to data without there being a clear cut physical model behind the fit.

    ————-

    My first thought too when I saw this. I expect the feedback effect of CO2 is causing a disturbance to the magnetic field and inevitably leading to the sun going out and the extinction of all life in the solar system. Possibly within days.

  43. Now that we have established *cough* that we are heading into (at least) a Maunder Minimum, is it too early to suggest a policy shift to burning more coal? I, for one, am thinking a portfolio shift into that most vile, CO2-belching industry might be oppotune to stave off the ravages of the spotless sun. Then again, maybe I should take up maggot farming… CH4 is the far better greenhouse agent after all. Hmmmm decisions, decisions….

  44. Invariant (23:04:06) :
    In Norway we have no historical evidence for aurora during the Maunder Minimum. For example Petter Dass (1647-1707), the foremost Norwegian poet in his time, does not mention the aurora.
    Does he mention ‘rain’?

  45. > Bulldust (23:46:27) :
    Now that we have established *cough* that we are heading into (at least) a Maunder Minimum, is it too early to suggest a policy shift to burning more coal?

    My *political* opinion is that saving the rain forest and such is a good “side effect” of the current “climate crisis”. However, based on my experience over many years with nonlinear multiphase flow simulations, I do not think we have evidence to say that CO2 is actually contributing in a significant way. Thus burning more coal may or may not save us from colder climate – we do not know. We might as well argue that less burning of coal should save us from colder climate.

  46. Leif Svalgaard (22:37:01) :

    Leif, I am confused by your statement. If the L&P effect is a change (decrease in this case) in the magnetic field strength, which is my understanding based on this: “’Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year,’ says Penn.”, then what do you mean by “If the L&P effect was the cause of the Maunder Minimum [the spots were there, but were just invisible] then the solar magnetic field did not go away.”?

    The Penn quote indicates that the magnetic field strength is decreasing. I call that “going away”? Perhaps you mean that the magnetic field decreased below that required for a spot to form, but didn’t completely go away? Could you clarify please? Thanks in advance.

  47. The paper, rejected in peer review, was never published by Science. Livingston said he’s OK with the rejection. “I accept what the reviewers said,” Livingston said. “‘If you are going to make such statement, you had better have strong evidence.’ “ Livingston said their projections were based on observations of a trend in decreasingly powerful sunspots but reviewers felt it was merely a statistical argument.

    A statistical argument? That has not stopped reviewers in the past, has it? I thought the entire premise for AGW was a ’statistical argument’ based on trends…

    I weep for science, again…

  48. Quote from article: “According to our measurements, sunspots seem to form only if the magnetic field is stronger than about 1500 gauss,” says Livingston. “If the current trend continues, we’ll hit that threshold in the near future, and solar magnetic fields would become too weak to form sunspots.””This work has caused a sensation in the field of solar physics,” comments NASA sunspot expert David Hathaway, who is not directly involved in the research. “It’s controversial stuff.” Unquote
    If I remember correctly the whole idea of Dr Svensmark’s cloud theory was that the Sun’s magnetic field held cosmic rays in check and if the Sun’s magnetic field weakened increased cosmic ray bombardment of Earth would lead to greater global cloud cover and cooling. If the weakening of the magnetic field continues it follows that cooling will occur potentially leading to a DM or MM???
    Just a question from a layman as it does not appear to have been touched upon above.

  49. Evan – “There is considerable debate as to the sun’s effect on climate over the long term.”

    A little lesson in Climate 101.

    What is climate?
    Meteorological elements in a given region over long periods of time.
    These meteorological elements are what we call weather.

    What is weather?
    Our atmosphere responding to unequal heating of our planet.

    What is the major heat source for our planet?
    The Sun.

    I’ll let you come to a conclusion.

  50. Evan – “There is considerable debate as to the sun’s effect on climate over the long term.”

    What is climate?
    Meteorological elements in a given region over long periods of time.
    These meteorological elements are what we call weather.

    What is weather?
    Our atmosphere responding to unequal heating of our planet.

    What is the major heat source for our planet?
    The Sun.

  51. Ubique of Perth WA (17:30:24) :

    Fortunately, the sun has no effect on climate. Or weather. Not even sure if it affects the difference between day and night.

    Err, prove it!

    WRT Dr Hathaway, & no disrespect intended at all, but his Solar predictions have been somewhat wayward of late. In my experience all things can be extremely predictable in life, right up to the point where they do the completely unexpected, then the theory has to go back to the drawing board for re-evaluation!

    As to temperatures, forgive a 50 something & his memory if I have already told this anecdote, but once when working at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire, in the Building/Engineering section, on a very early Spring morning a Duty Clerk of Works was carpeted for failing to order the gritting of roads & paths, especially the approach roads to the main entrance & on site due to ice/frost, several vehicles slid & skidded nearly having accidents, etc, (too much right foot) one or two people actually fell over whilst on foot (not enough left foot). He came on duty at 5:30am. He had checked with the main gate security & recorded the temperature from the Gate Lodge thermometers, it was well above freezing. When the early shift workers started arriving at 6:30am he checked the temperature again, it was still above freezing. When the main work force started turning up in droves from 8:00am onwards – in bright Spring sunshine the all hell broke loose. What happened was that the temperature had dropped significantly within an hour causing localised freezing on site & the surrounding area. This was actually not an unusual event as the land between the Ridgeway (an ancient pathway) hills & Oxford was pretty flat & relatively exposed, part of the Thames basin, & local temperature effects existed, but then that’s Britain for you! (Or anywhere else for that matter). Fortunately the meticulous record keeping & sense of duty of the CoW got him out of that situation, the Big White Chief having to eat humble pie.

    AND as for extrapolation, isn’t this what we’ve been suffering from since time began? Sort of, “Well, if it carries on at this rate……………….etc, etc!”. Whilst a technically true statement, where is the evidence that such is necessarily so? Extrapolation = Risky business especially in Structural Engineering!

  52. Leif Svalgaard (23:57:05) answers Invariant’s (23:04:06) question Are there historical evidence that the aurora did exist during the Maunder minimum? with a resounding “Yes” and cites: Aurora borealis during Maunder minimum by Ludwig Schlamminger.

    The major interest to me in this exchange is the demonstration, yet again, of the store of knowledge available to the serious student v. the store of ignorance available to knee-jerk and assumption people like myself. Rather sobering.

    Now I am waiting to hear if Petter Dass mentioned rain…

  53. “Ubique of Perth WA (17:30:24) :

    Fortunately, the sun has no effect on climate. Or weather. Not even sure if it affects the difference between day and night.

    REPLY – It must do. Tmax is almost always during the day and Tmin is almost always at night for any given location. ~ Evan]”

    Well, I thought it was funny!

  54. To be filed under: “The Ice Age Ate my Global Warming.” You can’t make stuff like this up!

    Global Warming Could Forestall Ice Age

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/science/earth/04arctic.html

    New York Times, , By ANDREW C. REVKIN, Published: September 3, 2009

    “The human-driven buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere appears to have ended a slide, many millenniums in the making, toward cooler summer temperatures in the Arctic, the authors of a new study report.

    Scientists familiar with the work, to be published Friday in the journal Science, said it provided fresh evidence that human activity is not only warming the globe, particularly the Arctic, but could also even fend off what had been presumed to be an inevitable descent into a new ice age over the next few dozen millenniums.”

    So for this week is AGW good or bad? Inquiring minds want to know? Expect to see more spin like this in the coming months and years. Will Obama Care cover motion sickness medication? But then without Cap and Trade taxes they can’t fund Obama Care can they?

    Mike

  55. I don’t know about you guys, but I fear that the sun is “rapidly approaching a tipping point”.

    :O

    Actually, quite interesting stuff. And a lot more troublesome to me than the wildest assertions about “global warming”.

  56. Whether or not the Maunder Minimum was the direct cause of the Little Ice Age becomes far more serious a question the longer this thing drags on and the L&P effect continues.

    There is a world of difference between something that is predicted to happen by models and something that is actually occuring for all to see.
    The Sun is hidden from nobody except the blind, the laboratory of Astronomy being a universal phenomenon.
    Some have gotten the message. Some are presently digging a hole.

  57. “From what I gather, Tmax is usually a bit after noon and Tmin is usually a bit after midnight.”
    This is not the case in my experience. The temp usually peaks hours after sun has been in the highest position. Also it is often coldest right before or during sunrise.

    Here in trondheim, norway the temp in summer usually peaks somewhere between 15:00-17:00, while solar noon is at around 13.

  58. So if its all about the solar cycle why was pan evaporation dropping since the 50s, right up till the 90s when it began to pick up again?

    Why were the 50s not unequivocaly the warmest decades for land temperatures?

  59. Also, he dedicated himself to measuring a large number of sunspots—more than 900 between 1998 and 2005 alone. The combination of accuracy and numbers revealed the downturn.

    I don’t see how this constitutes a firm long term trend. Does this happen at every minima?

  60. Here we go again. Sunspots have been declining for the past couple decades; therefore, sunspots may disappear completely and permanently. Here in Ohio we haven’t had rain for almost a week; therefore, I’m predicting that my neighborhood will likely become a desert by 2012. I just waterproofed my basement too……THAT was a waste of hard-earned cash…..

  61. par5 (00:39:04) :

    The paper, rejected in peer review, was never published by Science. Livingston said he’s OK with the rejection. “I accept what the reviewers said,” Livingston said. “‘If you are going to make such statement, you had better have strong evidence.’ “ Livingston said their projections were based on observations of a trend in decreasingly powerful sunspots but reviewers felt it was merely a statistical argument.

    A statistical argument? That has not stopped reviewers in the past, has it? I thought the entire premise for AGW was a ’statistical argument’ based on trends….

    An updated paper was published this year in EOS, see

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/08/15/livingston-and-penn-in-eos-are-sunspots-different-during-this-solar-minimum/

    I don’t have much trouble with Science rejecting the paper. It would have been stronger if there had been proposed mechanisms, a longer record, or the implications not so remarkable. I think they should have submitted to Icarus or other astronomical journal instead of Science.

    Now that things are mostly following the trend (2018 is the latest target), a paper looking at statistics and how they’re holding up, and given the current anomalous solar minimum, it’s easy to argue this is a much better time to publish anyway.

    Of course, it’s easy to find other statistical papers that should be given a status of “latest update” instead of “the ice is going to be gone by 2030!” (or 2010) or whatever).

  62. Michael Ronayne (17:12:19) :
    . . . I await the response of the Washington ruling class with breathless anticipation. In a sane society wishing to maintain a technological civilization in the face of a very real and possibly catastrophic cooling event, which will occur by 2015, we would be building nuclear power plants, expanding the electrical grid, drilling for oil and natural gas and doing everything to increase our supplies of energy. Instead the United States finds itself in the control of an anti-technology religious cult.

    Very well stated. I would add only that it is just as true if you subtract the phrase, “in the face of a very real and possibly catastrophic cooling event, which will occur by 2015.” “A sane society wishing to maintain a technological civilization” would be doing all that you say (and more) in any event, because that is the path to continued progress, economic growth, and the improvement in living standards of all the world.

    I think that if the American people were made aware of the stark reality that their government has been taken over by “an anti-technology religious cult,” a good part of them would be in just as high dudgeon as the prospect of socialized medicine has engendered.

    /Mr Lynn

  63. Claude Harvey (23:32:59) :

    The Farmer’s Almanac, whose method reputedly uses sunspot activity as one of several major indicators, predicts “an ice sandwich” for the U.S. this winter. Has anyone ever compared the Almanac’s predictive record with NOAH’s or any of the other super-computer equipped organizations? I’d bet on the old geezer with the green eye-shade and a slide-rule in hand who’s behind the Almanac’s predictions.

    I don’t know anyone who tracks the Farmer’s Almanac, I tend to ignore it. The better known Old Farmer’s Almanac hasn’t published yet, but they will soon. Their predictions last year were strongly affected by Joe D’Aleo’s work and verified well in the northeast and north central regions at least. The special article they published, apparently taken down recently, was by far the most scientific thing they’ve ever published. See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/08/28/skeptical-article-on-climate-in-the-old-farmers-almanac/

    See also

    http://www.almanac.com/content/influence-solar-activity-weather

    http://www.almanac.com/content/teleconnections-and-oscillations

    Caveat – one of these had an annoying advertising pop up that tried so show my Linux system was running a virus-ridden Windows install. I don’t have time this morning to hunt it down and call Yankee publishing to complain vehemently about it.

  64. Nasif Nahle (21:59:13) :
    Do you have smaller versions of that new plasma welding machine that runs without power and produces power instead ?

  65. Leif Svalgaard (22:37:01) :

    Not so fast. I never said that the sun is the primary driver. We’ll leave that at the oceans.

    My point was that we’ve got a bunch of world “leaders” and some really bad, but influential scientists [Michael Mann et al] with their heads up their CO2 ——, while there are other drivers they should be looking to…in trying to figure out where the Earth is going next in its climate.

    My point is that while all these cats are studying what would happen if the world warms…very few of them are looking at what might happen…if the world cools.

    I really don’t think these people get it.

    Al Gore has never recanted of his Day After Tommorrow-like Inconvenient Truth.
    Michael Mann still plays with his hockey stick.
    James Hansen still galavants around the globe trying to stop coal.

    Nope…they don’t get it. Fear the cold, not the warmth.

    Personally, if I were them, I would want to accidentally get caught with my pants down in a lush, warm, CO2 rich environment, as opposed to in an icy wind on the frozen river Thames.

    Ugh……bad picture bad picture. TMI. Don’t need that picture in my brain.
    Next thought….LOL

    So…if sunspots disappear, and even if they do for 75 years…they’ll be back.

    The sun has been around for a few billion. Us? 1 to 4 score.

    No reason for alarm. Just level-headed scientific observation…and even more level-headed preparation for the future, wherever that may take us.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  66. Invariant (00:09:12) :

    > Bulldust (23:46:27) :
    Now that we have established *cough* that we are heading into (at least) a Maunder Minimum, is it too early to suggest a policy shift to burning more coal?

    My *political* opinion is that saving the rain forest and such is a good “side effect” of the current “climate crisis”. However, based on my experience over many years with nonlinear multiphase flow simulations, I do not think we have evidence to say that CO2 is actually contributing in a significant way. Thus burning more coal may or may not save us from colder climate – we do not know. We might as well argue that less burning of coal should save us from colder climate.

    Burning more coal will have a very real and immediate effect of providing warmth, which would be very handy in a cold climate. ;-)

  67. rbateman (18:01:08) :
    “And that something new we are about to learn may not be what we would like to see.”

    Ain’t that the truth?

    The climate debate’s not unlike the tug of war between being a guy and a dad. As a guy, you’re fascinated to see how many raisins your 3 year old son can stuff in his mouth; as a dad, you recognize it might not be a good idea (even if he sets a new world record).

    In the climate argument, there are extremely polarized positions ranging from fire to ice with proponents actively rooting for a particular outcome just to prove a point. No one should want another Maunder or Dalton (and the proposed attending climate), yet there is a fascination over whether the theories are true and the satisfaction (for some) of being right – even though the consequences might be severe. Conversely, no one should wish for rapid sea rise (or any of the other 10,000 direly predicted consequences of AGW), but I suspect that there are some warmistas who desperately want it just to say “told ya so” (and to keep the grant money coming in of course).

  68. DaveE (17:55:40) and Evanjones, etc:

    With no fronts moving in or out, T max is generally two-three hours after noon (lag because of Tmin just before dawn) and Tmin is just before the dawn (all night to cool off etc. I seem to recall reading that it was the same on Mars.

    Regarding Dr. Hathaway’s comment that we are going to learn something from the quiet sun, I’ve been made into a cynic over the years. Teachable moments most often get rationalized out of existence by the extant specialists in the field. I, myself, have already learned something from the blank sun: its the best scanner for finding bits of dirt and dead pixels on my monitor.

  69. F*ck me, how can any scientist look at a plot of data only a few years long, taken from a natural system with a lifetime measured in billions of years and try to stick a straight line through it. Even more amazing, how can they make projections for a trend to zero.

    Clucking bell, I could take their extrapolation and predict that in a few years, not only will there be no sunspots but that the line will go negative and we will have ‘anti-sunspots’ or sunzits as I shall now name them…

    Excuse me while I go and bang my head against something hard and sharp…

    Cheers

    Mark

  70. The L&P paper is not new but is it a news headline again because NASA has commented on it?
    BTW with August having a SN of Zero has the candidate month of sunspot minimum moved to Jan 09?

    “savethesharks (06:17:22) :
    Leif Svalgaard (22:37:01) :

    Not so fast. I never said that the sun is the primary driver. We’ll leave that at the oceans.”

    What warms the oceans? O_o

  71. It’s interesting that all of the field strengths for the past 3 yrs appear to be on the POSITIVE side of the linear fit…

  72. Roger Carr (03:05:29) :

    Now I am waiting to hear if Petter Dass mentioned rain…

    http://no.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordlands_Trompet

    The Trumpet of Nordland (“Nordlands Trompet”) from ~1670 is a topographical poem written by Petter Dass.

    “The poem depicts Petter Dass nordland nature and the northern meteorological conditions as the midnight sun. He points to the birds, animals and trading businesses, and everything else that exists in the region, such as the capture of puffins”

    One of the poems from “Nordlands Trompet” about the weather etc.

    http://dikt.org/Nordlands_Horizont,_Elementer_og_Veyrligt

    The language style is very archaic and will not translate easily from Norwegian (but Leif is Danish and the language style was more like Danish then).

    He talks about the “Ulidelig Frysen og stormende Slud” (“Unbearably cold and stormy sleet”). He also mentions the Sun and the planets Saturn and Jupiter, so clearly it wasn’t raining all the time :-)

    But I wonder if the poem actually contains a direct reference to the Aurora:

    “Du tilmed og aldrig saa tiilig staaer op,
    At dig jo før høyt over Biergenes Top
    Er runden Aurora den røde.”

    Which perhaps will translate into something like

    “You never get up early enough to see the red Aurora over the mountain top”

  73. coaldust (00:33:36) :
    The Penn quote indicates that the magnetic field strength is decreasing. I call that “going away”? Perhaps you mean that the magnetic field decreased below that required for a spot to form, but didn’t completely go away? Could you clarify please? Thanks in advance.
    There is a difference between field and flux. The flux is field strength times area, and is what counts. Sunspots are concentrations of flux, i.e small areas with high field strength formed by the coalescence of yet smaller flux elements. When the field strength is 1500 Gauss or above, it is strong enough to hinder the convection that brings heat up from below and the spot looks darker than the surroundings. So the ‘darkness’ of a spot depends on how much the field is stronger than 1500 Gauss. Imagine we have 10 spots with field strength 1400 Gauss and one spot with field strength 2000 Gauss, then the total flux [assuming all spots have the same area, A] for the first ten [and invisible spots] is 1400*10*A, and for the lone, but visible, spot 2000*1*A, or seven times less. So all it takes to have a Maunder Minimum is for the field strength to fall just below 1500 Gauss [and not go to zero]. Then there can be lots of flux [as required for the cosmic ray modulation], but no visible spots. We don’t know if this is what actually happened, but it is a viable explanation.

  74. Michael Ronayne (17:12:19) : The whole western “civilization” is
    “….in the control of an anti-technology religious cult, just because not of “big oil” but “big left” which, after the fall of the berlin’s wall have sought refuge in the UN, the academia, and “progressive” political parties. There are mixed with very lucrative interests in the middle, like carbon credits/shares market…in short, quite a real pandemic infection which has the help of some vector insects like WWF, etc. etc.
    But don’t dismay in the effort, the Sun comes in the rescue..surely an early winter will complicate Copenhaguen guests (the dammned “Gore Effect”-which obviously works contrary to “Watts Effect”-).

  75. @noaaprogrammer

    “Does the sun have external sources of fuel – small though it may be? (Sometimes a comet ends up going into the sun.) How much matter does Its gravitational force pull in per some unit of time? Since the sun is a fusion furnace, any element below iron on the periodic chart should provide it energy.”

    The sun is losing mass at the rate of about 4 metric tons per second. Far in excess of anything that might conceivably fall into it. However the sun is massive beyond any rational thinking and is only expected to burn off about 1% of it’s mass during it’s 10 billion year life.

    The sun is not, currently, hot or dense enough to fuse anything other than hydrogen. A good thing too. When the rate of hydrogen fusion drops low enough that it can no longer support the mass of the sun the core will contract and become hot and dense enough to fuse helium. When that happens the higher temperature will cause the outer layers of the sun to swell up. It will become a red-giant. At point the Earth will be toast. We have about 5 billion years before that happens.

  76. An interesting article at:
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/09/telegraphs-ran-on-electric-air-in-crazy-magnetic-storm-150-years-ago/ “The Carrington Event”

    Excerpt; The data on how often huge storms occur is scarce. Ice cores are the main evidence we have outside human historical documents. Charged particles can interact with nitrogen in the atmosphere, creating nitrides. The increased concentration of those molecules can be detected by looking at ice cores, which act like a logbook of the atmosphere at a given time. Over the last 500 years of this data, the 1859 event was twice as big as anything else.

    Does this fit into the L&P, MM, SC23-24, decline/recovery conversation in a loop ‘dynamic limit of stability’ sort of way? More learning experiences to come I’m thinking.
    Hat tip to: http://pajamasmedia.com/instapundit/
    J. D. Lindskog

  77. Man’s use of electromagnetic devices has increased exponentially during this time frame. It’s obvious that man has affected the magnetic properties of the entire universe, resulting in a lack of sunspots. Scientists who subscribe to this explanation belong to a group named the Absentia Sun Spot Evolution Society.

    This group is dedicated to establishing a UN panel titled The Helios Interference Experimental Foundation. This panel will implement a program of Reducing Offworld Byproducts to eliminate this threat.

    A warning to all who are interested in true science! Don’t be ASSES and let THEIFs ROB you!

  78. Bob Shapiro (20:40:19) My own empirical/anecdotal observations agree with your time assessment of Tmin/Tmax. I have a problem with Tmin/Tmax averaging though. For example, if on March 10th Tmin=40°F and Tmax=80°F, and again on June 10th Tmin=40° and Tmax=80°F, they will have the same average, but do not represent the same amount of heat. By June we are looking at more hours of day, read warm, and fewer hours of night, read cool. An hourly reading on each of these two days, averaged for each day would show this, (Tmin/Tmax)/2 does not.

  79. Isn’t it quite possible that ‘no sunspot zones’ of time has existed many times before, and we just don’t know? Isn’t the invention of the telescope important to knowing that answer? So this may be the second time this has happens since that invention?

    My two cents — Could stars naturally behave in cycles, blaze for a while, then relax, no spots, bring up more fuel, then blaze again? I we only had instruments that could tell, over a longer time-span, we may know.

    What we know about the universe, you could write a book, what we don’t know, you could fill a library.

  80. >> NoAstronomer (07:43:35) :

    The sun is not, currently, hot or dense enough to fuse anything other than hydrogen. <<

    I seem to remember that the primary division between brown dwarfs and low mass stars was the presence of lithium. Lithium fuses at a temperature slightly below that required to fuse hydrogen, so most main sequence stars (including the Sun) are lithium poor.

    The presence of lithium in older stars requires explanation. The usual one is that it has probably gobbled up a brown dwarf.

    Jim

  81. Robinson (05:39:30) :

    Also, he dedicated himself to measuring a large number of sunspots—more than 900 between 1998 and 2005 alone. The combination of accuracy and numbers revealed the downturn.

    I don’t see how this constitutes a firm long term trend. Does this happen at every minima?

    I didn’t happen at the last minimum. Unfortunately, the data span is only 17 years, so no one knows what the longer history is or what the future may hold.

    Mark Fawcett (07:10:28) :

    F*ck me, how can any scientist look at a plot of data only a few years long, taken from a natural system with a lifetime measured in billions of years and try to stick a straight line through it. Even more amazing, how can they make projections for a trend to zero.

    Clucking bell, I could take their extrapolation and predict that in a few years, not only will there be no sunspots but that the line will go negative and we will have ‘anti-sunspots’ or sunzits as I shall now name them…

    Excuse me while I go and bang my head against something hard and sharp.

    I don’t think you understand, did you read the papers?

    This is brand new science. Livingston and Penn are the first to report this phenomemon and are quick to say they don’t know how things will turn out.

    The trend appears to be a straight line, so that what they fit it to. What would you have used?

    They did not project the field strength to zero, but to 1500 gauss, down from about 3000. At that point the contrast between sunspot umbra and the rest of the solar disk will be so low that the sopts will appear invisible.

    Please, go bang your head – several of rest of us who have been following this find this to be the most fascinating thing we have read in this blog, some to the point of checking with Leif after each sunspeck with “Did Livingston measure it?” “Is it still on the trend line?” I’m more patient than that, perhaps if you read both of the papers you would understand that you could learn a little patience yourself.

  82. Dear Colleagues… Science Express published this news yesterday:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/1178868v1.pdf

    It refers to the observation of magnetic monopoles and Dirac strings in magnetic spin ice Dy2Ti2O7 (Dysprosium Titanate). If the observation is confirmed, it will constitute an important verification on the inflationary theory and subsequent deterioration of the Big Bang theory.

    On the other hand, the observation of magnetic monopoles, if it is systematically confirmed, will be useful for explaining quantum tunneling in observed solar phenomena besides the normal explanations like transverse anisotrpy, transverse magnetic field, fluctuations of the energy of the potential barrier, etc., including the “bangs” reported where solar magnetic lines reconnect.

    I hope there will be many particle physicists who reproduce the experiment and confirm the observations of magnetic monopoles by Morris et al.

    :)

  83. Carsten Arnholm, Norway (07:33:14) :
    “You never get up early enough to see the red Aurora over the mountain top”
    So, Dass did mention the aurora after all. And sleet, too. And your translation is fine.

  84. Dear Dr. Svalgaard,

    I will check with my uncle at the University of Tromsø about Petter Dass and rain. He knows many people at Nordlysobservatoriet. At this page you can see the typical information we learn in Norway about Nordlys. This link is for Dr. Svalgaard:

    http://www.museumsnett.no/ntm/no/utstillingene/nordlys/nnordlys.htm

    The rest of the world can try Google Translator:

    http://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=no&u=http://www.museumsnett.no/ntm/no/utstillingene/nordlys/nnordlys.htm&ei=XkWhSoVTjIWwBqnDudIE&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct=result&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dnordlys%2Bsite:.museumsnett.no%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG

    NORDLYSET KOMMER OG GÅR

    Nordlyset varierer i takt med forholdene på solen. Mens solflekkene kommer og går i perioder på om lag 11 år, følger nordlysene med i samme takt, bare et par år forsinket. I lange perioder har solflekkaktiviteten vært meget lav og antall observerte nordlys vært tilsvarende få. Dikteren og presten Petter Dass (1645-1701) levde i en av disse periodene, Maunder- minimum, og så ikke nordlys.

    Den geografiske beliggenheten av nordlyset, nordlyssonen, er bestemt av jordens magnetfelt som dreier omkring som tiden går. Da Kongespeilet ble skrevet omkring år 1250, var nordlyssonen trolig langt nord for de sentrale deler av Norge, og vikingene opplevde nordlyset bare på sine ferder til Grønland.

  85. Leif Svalgaard (07:35:57) :

    coaldust (00:33:36) :
    The Penn quote indicates that the magnetic field strength is decreasing. I call that “going away”? Perhaps you mean that the magnetic field decreased below that required for a spot to form, but didn’t completely go away? Could you clarify please? Thanks in advance.
    There is a difference between field and flux. The flux is field strength times area, and is what counts. Sunspots are concentrations of flux, i.e small areas with high field strength formed by the coalescence of yet smaller flux elements. When the field strength is 1500 Gauss or above, it is strong enough to hinder the convection that brings heat up from below and the spot looks darker than the surroundings. So the ‘darkness’ of a spot depends on how much the field is stronger than 1500 Gauss. Imagine we have 10 spots with field strength 1400 Gauss and one spot with field strength 2000 Gauss, then the total flux [assuming all spots have the same area, A] for the first ten [and invisible spots] is 1400*10*A, and for the lone, but visible, spot 2000*1*A, or seven times less. So all it takes to have a Maunder Minimum is for the field strength to fall just below 1500 Gauss [and not go to zero]. Then there can be lots of flux [as required for the cosmic ray modulation], but no visible spots. We don’t know if this is what actually happened, but it is a viable explanation.

    Please make corrections where appropriate, Lief, but while I accept your explanation, it seems to me not entirely the pertinent point. The magnetic field which modulates cosmic rays out at the distance of the Earth is actually a low order moment field; while the field in a sunspot is much higher order and will decay very quickly with distance from the sun. Thus, it is not at all surprising that the magnetic field of the sun could remain almost constant at Earth distance, but sun spots vanish entirely.

    Heat is conveyed from the Sun’s interior via a combination of radiation and convection. Convection in turn can tangle magnetic field lines and concentrate them to a very significant degree. Concentrated magnetic fields lead to an increase in viscosity of the fluid material making up the Sun and should decrease the vigor of convection. Magnetic field lines can diffuse through the solar material, and this diffusion then allows the dissipation of sun spots and lowers viscosity again, at a rate which depends on electrical conductivity. Electrical conductivity in turn increases with material temperature. Thus we have a complicated feedback system of convection upon itself mediated through magnetic field. My understanding is that this feedback is the basis of the sun spot cycle in the first place. Am I correct?

    What seems interesting to me is that despite the changes in convection implied by sunspots, the TSI is relatively constant–suggesting that radiation can make up for decreasing convection locally.

    By the way, I have never used the unit Gauss, having not used the cgs system, so I have trouble visualizing what we are speaking about. The SI unit is the Tesla, and 1500 Gauss is 0.15T. The normal magnetic field of the Earth is about 0.00006T. A really big laboratory field strength is 1T or so.

  86. “”” Leif Svalgaard (23:57:05) :

    Invariant (23:04:06) :
    Are there historical evidence that the aurora did exist during the Maunder minimum?
    Yes, http://www.leif.org/EOS/1990MNRAS247.pdf “””

    I would think Leif, that the Earth’s own magnetic field, plus any bursts of charged particles from the sun, is a sufficient condition to get some auroral displays. Cosmic rays would seem to be too sparse to generate aurorae.

    My understanding of the Maunder Minimum (from “Wille” Wei-Hock Soon) is that although sunspots disappeared, the 11/22 year solar cycles did not; so presumably they manifest themselves other than by sunspots.

    But I could be wrong on that.

    George

  87. NoAstronomer wrote:

    “…The sun is not, currently, hot or dense enough to fuse anything other than hydrogen….”

    Then whence cometh the sun’s iron atoms that are observed in this study?

    “…The technique they’re using was pioneered by Livingston at the NASA-supported McMath-Pierce solar telescope near Tucson. He looks at a spectral line emitted by iron atoms in the sun’s atmosphere. Sunspot magnetic fields cause the line to split in two—an effect called “Zeeman splitting” after Dutch physicist Pieter Zeeman who discovered the phenomenon in the 19th century. The size of the split reveals the intensity of the magnetism…”

  88. >i>John Peter (00:42:08) :
    If I remember correctly the whole idea of Dr Svensmark’s cloud theory was that the Sun’s magnetic field held cosmic rays in check and if the Sun’s magnetic field weakened increased cosmic ray bombardment of Earth would lead to greater global cloud cover and cooling. If the weakening of the magnetic field continues it follows that cooling will occur potentially leading to a DM or MM???

    That is their theory.

    Steve Keohane (08:42:46) :
    Bob Shapiro (20:40:19) I have a problem with Tmin/Tmax averaging though. For example, if on March 10th Tmin=40°F and Tmax=80°F, and again on June 10th Tmin=40° and Tmax=80°F, they will have the same average, but do not represent the same amount of heat. By June we are looking at more hours of day, read warm, and fewer hours of night, read cool. An hourly reading on each of these two days, averaged for each day would show this, (Tmin/Tmax)/2 does not.

    Interesting. Does the “seasonally adjusted” postscript take this into account?

  89. >> noaaprogrammer (10:34:28) :

    Then whence cometh the sun’s iron atoms that are observed in this study? <<

    Probably from numerous supernovae that preceded the formation of the Solar System. The Sun is not a first generation star. The interstellar medium is constantly being seeded with ashes from supernova explosions and planetary nebulae from dying red giants too light to go supernova. Indeed, a nearby supernova may have triggered the formation of our solar system.

    Jim

  90. “Scientists familiar with the work, to be published Friday in the journal Science, said it provided fresh evidence that human activity is not only warming the globe, particularly the Arctic, but could also even fend off what had been presumed to be an inevitable descent into a new ice age over the next few dozen millenniums.

    I said the same exact thing as the bold remark in a comment in Frank Lansner’s article where he put together dozens of proxies. In his study the MWP was warmer than present and since his study used so many proxies I’d tend to believe him more than just looking at the Arctic.

    We all should keep in mind that the greenhouse effect could be masked by a cooling trend. Many estimates say we could get as much as 1.5C warming/century and we haven’t been seeing it. If it was masking a cooling trend then positive feedbacks would be negated as well.

  91. BTW. What’s the best time to record max/min for a given day? (For an experiment, let you know after I’ve finished.)

    Best time for daily minimum is shortly after sunrise (for a typical day in the mid latitudes about 8:00 am if the sky is clear). The daily minimum is driven by a balance between radiant heat loss to the cold sky and heat gain from the direct heating of the sun. When the sun is just above the horizon, it is still losing out in the battle to radiant heat lost to the sky (if cloudless).

    Instead of a clock time, the best way to do it would be by referencing the measurement to the time of local sunrise, and local noon. That should work out to an hour or so after local sunrise in the winter for T-min, much sooner in summer when the sun rises sooner and faster (height above horizon varies more rapidly in summer).

    My experience on T max is about 2:00-4:00 pm ( 40 deg N. long) depending on cloud conditions. If the sky is clear and cloudless temperatures will peak later in the day. If like much of mid-America, clouds build in the afternoon, that can shut off heating around 2:00 pm.

    I have seen studies on this issue by folks researching Solar flat plate thermal collectors, and solar pond systems. They need to consider both.

    (radiant cooling to the sky can freeze water in desert environments even if air temps never drop below 50 deg F. at night)

    Larry

  92. noaaprogrammer (10:34:28) :

    NoAstronomer wrote:

    “…The sun is not, currently, hot or dense enough to fuse anything other than hydrogen….”

    Then whence cometh the sun’s iron atoms that are observed in this study?

    From some previous large star that puked out iron as it died into the interstellar gas clouds the sun collected its gas from as it formed.

    Iron formation only occurs very late in a stars life cycle.

    Super nova’s have spread heavy elements through out the galaxy over the last few billion years, so all stars (and rocky planets) contain heavier elements manufactured during those old stars life cycles.

    Larry

  93. Nasa seems to take one step forward and two back. NASA’s newest press release on solar activity offers a fairer view of the uncertainty surrounding the sun, however on the same day Tom Wagner of NASA went on CNN to mislead the public about the state of Earth’s ice:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/tech/2009/09/03/nasa.coolest.earth.video.cnn?iref=videosearch

    Tom disingenuously highlights that an iceberg broke off Ross Ice Shelf a few years ago and that the Larson Ice Shelf “collapsed catastrophically”, insinuating that Antarctica is falling apart, when in reality Antarctic Sea Ice Extent is currently above the historical average:

  94. Invariant (09:51:36) :
    I will check with my uncle at the University of Tromsø about Petter Dass and rain.
    According to http://www.leif.org/EOS/1990MNRAS247.pdf there were 118 aurorae observed in Central Europe during the MM.
    I have often wondered about Norway and Iceland where aurorae now are common, that if they disappeared during the MM, people would have noticed that and commented upon it as strange. The lack of any such comment may be taken as evidence, perhaps, that the aurorae did not disappear. The only real evidence we have of the solar magnetic field still being near ‘normal’ is that the modulation of cosmic rays was not noticeably weaker during the MM.

  95. noaaprogrammer (10:34:28) :

    NoAstronomer wrote:

    “The sun is not, currently, hot or dense enough to fuse anything other than hydrogen… ”

    Then whence cometh the sun’s iron atoms that are observed in this study?

    From the stars upon whose ashes our solar system is built. I.e. the same place the Earth’s iron core, uranium deposits, etc. came from. I’m not just a
    descendent of apes’ ancestors, I came from a supernova!

  96. I didn’t see this in the post above…was there a hardware change ~2002/2003? Why is is pre-2003(ish) missing all of the high-frequency contend of the post-2003(ish) era?

  97. DaveE (17:55:40) :
    REPLY – It must do. Tmax is almost always during the day and Tmin is almost always at night for any given location. ~ Evan]

    I note you cover your ass with almost always.

    I think it was more a recognition of fact than a CYA. There are times that a cold pool of air sitting in a low valley gets blown out by descending (heating) winds, for example. I lived for a couple of decades in a valley where the winter fog sometimes would sit for days. WHENEVER it finally cleared off was the first time the temperature would significantly move (one way or the other).

    BTW. What’s the best time to record max/min for a given day? (For an experiment, let you know after I’ve finished.)

    When it happens.

    You need a “recording thermometer” that is running for the whole 24 hours. They you read the three indicators: MIN MAX and Current.

  98. Jim Masterson (10:51:31) :

    >> noaaprogrammer (10:34:28) :

    Then whence cometh the sun’s iron atoms that are observed in this study? <Probably from numerous supernovae that preceded the formation of the Solar System. The Sun is not a first generation star. The interstellar medium is constantly being seeded with ashes from supernova explosions and planetary nebulae from dying red giants too light to go supernova. Indeed, a nearby supernova may have triggered the formation of our solar system.<

    Is there a spectrographic database that is keeping track of the elemental make-up of the sun over time? I know that any percent change among its elements might be too small to detect even over millenia, but that shouldn't preclude us from starting now.

  99. The article says “Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year,” says Penn. “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”

    According to the graph, by 2015, mag fields will be only 1800 gauss. Is that the point at which sunspots vanish? I think someone drew a conclusion from the chart without realizing that the y axis ranged from 1800 to 3200 gauss.

    Nonetheless, I too am quite convinced there is a strong relationship between variations in solar activity and earth’s climate. There is much stronger evidence and compelling arguments than the econuts spew with their CO2 hysteria. Sheeesh!

  100. noaaprogrammer (12:19:05) :
    Is there a spectrographic database that is keeping track of the elemental make-up of the sun over time? I know that any percent change among its elements might be too small to detect even over millenia, but that shouldn’t preclude us from starting now.
    The changes are too small to see over the limited time humans have existed, but the elemental make-up of the Sun is known [some elements better than others] as well of that of many stars.

  101. savethesharks (06:17:22) :

    Our leaders are too busy being informed by those who are fascinated by what would happen if the Earth turned into another Venus theory.

    They really should be concerned with what is presently happening on the Earth and the Sun.
    Or, to be more specific: What isn’t happening on the Earth and the Sun.

  102. Leif Svalgaard (11:25:59) :The lack of any such comment may be taken as evidence, perhaps, that the Aurorae did not disappear.

    Thanks a lot for the interesting discussion and in particular this excellent paper which I enjoyed reading: http://www.leif.org/EOS/1990MNRAS247.pdf.

    Now, I am mostly curious and clearly a beginner in studying sun cycles (possibly you could write another book, should sell very well in these interesting times), but since the amplitude and frequency of the Aurora is in tune with the sun cycles, is there any scientific evidence that the Aurora is weaker during periods with little sunspots, for example during cycle 14 and 15 in the beginning of the previous century?

    http://www.windmedia.net/auror.htm

    If the Aurora is weaker in the absence of sunspots is likely that it was even weaker during Maunder Minimum?

  103. Leif Svalgaard (22:47:01) :

    “No, electric currents are by-products of plasma movements and magnetic fields. There are no electric fields in the rest-frame of a plasma.”

    This is so much gibberish.

    Electric fields have been observed & measured in space plasma.

    Astronomy got on a wrong path and ran out to the end of a thin branch — now they don’t have the intellectual fortitude to acknowledge their error.

  104. Thanks for all the answers regarding when to read Tmax/Tmin.

    I should have been clearer & said…

    When do I read & reset the max/min thermometer.

    I was thinking local midnight, never using daylight saving.

    DaveE.

  105. E.M.Smith (12:05:08) :

    You need a “recording thermometer” that is running for the whole 24 hours. They you read the three indicators: MIN MAX and Current.

    Does anyone actually use the current temp reading? If so, what for?

    DaveE.

  106. This is about as dim a preview of the upcoming Sun as it gets:

    This being what we just had:

    1024 still not fully dissipated to the South, and in the North the plage of what remains of 1025.

    Current status of progess: Who wants to paint the picture?

  107. Meanwhile astronomers discovered that the Sun is an amazingly complex magnetic body — while campfires are not noted for their magnetism. So heroic attempts have been made to conjure up a “dynamo” inside the Sun to match its weird magnetic behaviour. Not surprisingly, all attempts have failed. It is simply assumed there must be a hidden dynamo because the magnetic fields are there and no one believes they could come from outside the Sun. The mysteriously generated magnetic fields are called upon to explain most of the puzzling observations about the Sun. It fits the astrophysicists’ maxim, “when we don’t understand something, we blame it on magnetism.” They then show their ignorance of magnetism by describing electric discharge phenomena in terms of the ‘snapping’ and ‘reconnection’ of imaginary field lines. The father of plasma physics, Hannes Alfvén, wrote concerning the mistreatment of magnetism by astrophysicists, “Magnetospheric physics and solar wind physics today are no doubt in a chaotic state, and a major reason for this is that part of the published papers are science and part pseudoscience, perhaps even with a majority in the latter group.” The view of the Sun as an isolated, self-sufficient, self-immolating, magnetic body is the chief peculiarity and drawback of the campfire Sun.
    Wal Thornhill

  108. Pamela Gray (18:15:52) :
    I would disagree that the Sun affects day and night temperatures. That would be Earth’s fault. So many times we fall into thinking that resembles flat Earth thinking. Such as: We have day and then we have night and the Sun determines this. But the Sun always shines. It knows no day versus night. Thus to be more correct, the Sun has no measurable affect on day versus night temperatures.

    I sincerely do agree. When variations in the our sun – one way or another -manages to alter temeperature here on earth, it is nonsense to argue that this should affevt the day more than the night. When I see this sort of argument from some famous AGW promoters, I must say that I am surprised by the lack of understanding for basic physical principles and intuition.

    The thermal mass of the oceans is huge. Day to day (or night to night) variations are nonsense.

  109. Archonix (06:34:16) :

    Burning more coal will have a very real and immediate effect of providing warmth, which would be very handy in a cold climate. ;-)

    Agree completely! Just read all the other posts from bulldust, and I now see the humor – very funny indeed!

  110. Yes, I agree. They are unreal limits of a system (the magnetic field in this case) created in the researcher’s mind for facilitating their study. It is the same with Higgs’ fields; our Universe is permeated by the continuum we recognize like Higgs’ fields. Nevertheless, we have parceled it into small quadrants which in any particular case would serve as boundaries of the studied system, mind-constructed, however.

    Yes, I agree. They are unreal limits of a system (the magnetic field in this case) created in the researcher’s mind for facilitating their study. It is the same with Higgs’ fields; our Universe is permeated by the continuum we recognize like Higgs’ fields. Nevertheless, we have parceled it into small quadrants which in any particular case would serve as boundaries of the studied system, mind-constructed, however.

    The “bangs”, which occur where the magnetic field is fluctuating, take place thanks to quantum tunneling. QT is evident given that the magnetic field transverses just in those places where the magnetic field density is reestablished.

  111. I suppose that future models of the sun may require knowledge of the dynamics of hitherto unknown plasmatic interactions involving the fundamental forces (strong/weak nuclear, electromagnetic, & gravitational). Even though their field strengths are magnitudes apart on spatial scales, renormalization can result in interesting phenomena.

  112. MikeE (17:55:11) :

    This is clearly the result of technology… somehow sucking the magnetism out of the sun! There is an undeniable correlation with increasing technology and declining solar activity! When will we learn, that mung beans and hemp are the answer to a simpler life style that will prevent us from destroying the universe! The only logical solution, is to fire all our nuk’s at mercury in the hope of breaking it free of its orbit and launching it into the sun… which will re fire up the sun(somehow) and get things back on there natural path. ;-)

    Nah,
    It is clearly related to 12-21-2012. As the solar system breaches the galactic plane, a new flop will occur with respect to solar polar orientation and the cycle will finally begin anew. ;-)

  113. Leif Svalgaard (09:25:55) :

    Carsten Arnholm, Norway (07:33:14) :
    “You never get up early enough to see the red Aurora over the mountain top”
    So, Dass did mention the aurora after all. And sleet, too. And your translation is fine.

    Is your tongue in your cheek, Leif? The aurora mentioned here looks like “the dawn” not the Aurora Borealis.

  114. Nogw (13:53:34) :

    Apparently, the both the campfire and the campfire theory run low on fuel when it comes time to shed the light in sufficient quantity to explain current events.
    So, without further ado, here’s another way to express the equation:

    “So when will solar cycle 24 really get going? It seems even the best minds of science don’t know for certain. A NOAA press release issued last year in April 2007 calls for Cycle 24 to be up to a year late, but they can’t decide on the intensity of SC24. That argument is ongoing.”

    It sure is ongoing, only it’s going nowhere in a less-than-stellar fashion.
    Maybe we should fire all our nukes into the Sun (if we can come up with an Ion Engine with sufficient speed to break orbital forces) in an attempt to jump start it, instead of blasting poor Mercury’s resonance.

  115. So the magnetic field strength is waning — most likely it will wax, again.

    But should it go on a prolonged minimum level of magnetic field strength, the question becomes obvious:

    Why?

    If the Sun is a nuclear furnace, what dynamic would cause the magnetic field to lose strength?

    As I understand the hypothesis, the furnace is extremely steady, not subject to short-term instability — yet, loss of magnetic strength suggests, indeed, there is short-term instability of somekind at any rate.

    So we have a contradiction between the model and observation & measurement.

    When this kind of contradiction arises — something’s got to give — and it isn’t the observation & measurement.

    There is a fallacy in the model.

    Whether the fallacy is minor, allowing for a minor adjustment in the model, or is major, demanding a new model, needs to be determined.

    “Trust us” won’t cut it any more.

  116. Leif Svalgaard (22:47:01) :

    “No, electric currents are by-products of plasma movements and magnetic fields. There are no electric fields in the rest-frame of a plasma.”

    Tim Thompson is a recently retired astrophysicist from the JPL, Jet Propusion Laboratory. He was challenged by an interlocutor: “…somehow you’ve managed to convince yourself that electricity does not play a vital role in events in space.”

    And Tim Thompson responded: “Wrong. I believe no such thing and neither does anyone else I know. Electric currents certainly do play a vital role in events in space, on every spatial scale from the smallest to the largest. They are incorporated into standard physical models of the solar system and cosmology. There are whole books and reams of papers on the topic. Electric currents do play a vital role in events in space without question.”

    How come Leif Svalgaard seemingly at every turn does his best to minimize the role of electric currents in space?

    And anybody who says otherwise is labelled as pseudo-scientific.

    I think Svalgaard’s got I problem…apparently with Tim Thompson…

  117. Mark Bowlin (06:42:13) :

    but I suspect that there are some warmistas who desperately want it just to say “told ya so” (and to keep the grant money coming in of course).

    Unfortunately, there are those who are using AGW as a ploy to advance other agendas, i.e., control. Oil running out is another. The answer is always more government (read elitist) control. Consider Katrina. Many of the problems were caused by the government (Corp of Engineers levies, mis allocation of funds related to hurricane protection, failure of State and City governments to do their jobs), but of course the answer is more government.

  118. [snip - Nasif with that accusatory and defamatory comment about Dr. Svalgaard, you are no longer welcome here. I've warned you, and yet you persist in making personal attacks. Your comments will no longer appear here. Moderators take note. - Anthony]

  119. Richard M :
    You say: “We all should keep in mind that the greenhouse effect could be masked by a cooling trend. Many estimates say we could get as much as 1.5C warming/century and we haven’t been seeing it. If it was masking a cooling trend then positive feedbacks would be negated as well.”

    I am not a scientist. I ask your indulgence. Over what period does a trend become a trend? If a trend may be masked by another trend, which is the real long-term trend? The warming trend (claimed for greenhouse effect) may be being masked by a cooling trend, but the greenhouse effect may itself be masking a cooling trend. How can the masking and masked trends be identified as such? If cooling trends do in fact lower temperatures, then surely AGW theory would have to eliminate the possibility that there can be no future cooling trends long enough, or intense enough, to offset the greenhouse gas heating trend. How can this elimination be done, scientifically? I suppose that if the “future” is only the time until the icecaps melt, then what they are really saying is that no natural cooling trend will come in time to avert that catastrophe.
    Can you cite an article in which the various contributions to the recent warming of natural warming forces, including the sun directly and indirectly, which are individually dismissed by the AGW theorists as trivial, or insufficient to explain the recent warming, have been aggregated?

  120. “Leif Svalgaard (22:47:01) :

    “No, electric currents are by-products of plasma movements and magnetic fields. There are no electric fields in the rest-frame of a plasma.”

    Leif is right. A plasma has balanced charges, at least until magnetic fields or whatever get it moving. So a plasma, in its rest frame, ie. when it’s stationary, has no net electric or magnetic field.
    Quantum tunnelling is an effect where a particle has a finite chance of tunnelling through a potential barrier that is of the order of the Schrödinger wavelength of the particle. Since the Sun is hot all particles have high thermal energy hence v. v. short wavelengths below the size of the atom and nearly the size of the nucleus.
    The idea of QT in the Sun seems far-fetched.

  121. tarpon (08:47:54) :

    Isn’t it quite possible that ‘no sunspot zones’ of time has existed many times before, and we just don’t know? Isn’t the invention of the telescope important to knowing that answer? So this may be the second time this has happens since that invention?

    My two cents — Could stars naturally behave in cycles, blaze for a while, then relax, no spots, bring up more fuel, then blaze again? I we only had instruments that could tell, over a longer time-span, we may know.

    What we know about the universe, you could write a book, what we don’t know, you could fill a library.

    The solar proxy records very clearly show a Solar modulation roughly every 200 years, nothing new going on here.

    We can also fully rely on the solar proxies, when plotted together 14C & 10Be almost mirror each other.

    If the proxy records are now vindicated it poses a couple of intriguing questions. Has TSI varied by more than the heralded 0.1% in the past and if solar grand minimums occur on a very regular basis (around every 200 years) through eternity how does the Babcock model with its “crap shoot” core explain this?

  122. REPLY – It must do. Tmax is almost always during the day and Tmin is almost always at night for any given location. ~ Evan]

    Remember that correlation is not proof of causation. If you check daily temp graphs, there is also a twelve hour (+/- a couple hours) correlation between the sun’s high point in the sky and Tmin. Tmax probably has a similar correlation with nadir, though I haven’t examined the relationship in detail.

  123. Somebody got me thinking on present consequences of L&P.

    By 2010, going by the 1996 L&P low reading of 1875 representing a delta of -400, we could potentially see half of all spots rendered beflow 1800 gauss and therefore invisible.
    No need to wait until 2015. All that is necessary is for the spots to clump/cluster up at the low end of the total delta so far observed.
    It would even be possible for the year 2010 to ring up totally spotless.
    Right now, how do we tell how many spots this year have fallen victim to 1800 Gauss Magnetic Arrest if we never see them?

  124. Sandy (16:28:23) :
    “Leif Svalgaard (22:47:01) :“No, electric currents are by-products of plasma movements and magnetic fields. There are no electric fields in the rest-frame of a plasma.”
    Leif is right. A plasma has balanced charges, at least until magnetic fields or whatever get it moving. So a plasma, in its rest frame, ie. when it’s stationary, has no net electric or magnetic field.

    Couple questions –
    Is a moving plasma by itself an electric current?
    In an ion drive exhaust, we have ionized xenon. Does that positively charged stream have an electric field in its rest frame?

  125. Mark Three (16:27:31) :

    “I am not a scientist. I ask your indulgence. Over what period does a trend become a trend? If a trend may be masked by another trend, which is the real long-term trend? The warming trend (claimed for greenhouse effect) may be being masked by a cooling trend, but the greenhouse effect may itself be masking a cooling trend. How can the masking and masked trends be identified as such? If cooling trends do in fact lower temperatures, then surely AGW theory would have to eliminate the possibility that there can be no future cooling trends long enough, or intense enough, to offset the greenhouse gas heating trend. How can this elimination be done, scientifically? I suppose that if the “future” is only the time until the icecaps melt, then what they are really saying is that no natural cooling trend will come in time to avert that catastrophe.”

    All good questions. I’m not a scientist either. But, mathematics is my background. A trend can be computed over any time interval. Whether it’s really a trend is always open to debate. There is nothing magical in scientific predictions. In many cases (like AGW) they are simply educated WAGs based on incomplete information. So, to decide what to believe, it becomes more a matter of educated analysis of what various proponents are saying. If you’ve lived for many decades you’ve had an opportunity to see many of these predictions. I think this is one reason skepticism increases with age.

    “Can you cite an article in which the various contributions to the recent warming of natural warming forces, including the sun directly and indirectly, which are individually dismissed by the AGW theorists as trivial, or insufficient to explain the recent warming, have been aggregated.”

    IPCC AR4. However, I wouldn’t waste my time since much of the content has already been negated by nature.

  126. Sandy (16:28:23) :

    “Leif Svalgaard (22:47:01):

    Leif is right. A plasma has balanced charges, at least until magnetic fields or whatever get it moving. So a plasma, in its rest frame, ie. when it’s stationary, has no net electric or magnetic field.
    Quantum tunnelling is an effect where a particle has a finite chance of tunnelling through a potential barrier that is of the order of the Schrödinger wavelength of the particle. Since the Sun is hot all particles have high thermal energy hence v. v. short wavelengths below the size of the atom and nearly the size of the nucleus.
    The idea of QT in the Sun seems far-fetched.

    Read the next texts:

    Frank H. Shu. The physical universe: an introduction to astronomy. 1982. University Science Books. Sausalito, CA. Page 99.

    Maoz, Dan. Astrophysics. 2007. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey. Pp. 50 – 51

    http://books.google.com/books?id=v_6PbAfapSAC&dq=frank+h.+shu+the+physical+universe&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=oopjnWeeeJ&sig=HnG9zK2A4H6Ovr8b14LHM5FBQPM&hl=en&ei=v2ugSpXkNZH2sQP9w8GNDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

    There are 10^57 protons in the Sun. The fraction of nuclei with energies above 1 MeV to start a nuclear reaction, from the classical view, is ~1.6 x 10^-434; so there is not a single proton in the Sun which could enter into nuclear fusion reaction without the influence of an external operator. It could be electricity or quantum tunneling. To work like an external operator, the electricity must to have been produced by a body located externally with respect to the solar system; consequently, the only feasible option is quantum tunneling.

  127. Sandy (16:28:23) :

    ” So a plasma, in its rest frame, ie. when it’s stationary, has no net electric or magnetic field.”

    Yes, but plasma is rarely at rest, it is constantly on the move.

  128. “Couple questions –
    Is a moving plasma by itself an electric current?”
    ~~ No, there must be a net flow of charge, having said that the -ve electrons are so much lighter than the +ve nuclei that almost any movement leads to charge separation and hence current.

    “In an ion drive exhaust, we have ionized xenon. Does that positively charged stream have an electric field in its rest frame?”
    ~~ Yes it does have a field because in its rest frame it is stationary +ve charge.

    Nasif: Your calculations are presumably based on some assumptions about the pressure and temperature in the centre of the Sun and you conclude fusion is unlikely. However we know that fusion occurs, so it may just be the assumptions that are unlikely.
    “consequently, the only feasible option is quantum tunneling.”
    is the same logic as Man’s CO2 causes Global Warming, and presumes that we know all the relevant science in order to be able to discount other effects.
    If we’re playing silly physics here, remember degeneracy pressure from Pauli’s exclusion principle. Since all the fermion energy are taken to such high energy levels there might be bosonic pairing going on?

  129. Leif Svalgaard (11:25:59) :

    I have often wondered about Norway and Iceland where aurorae now are common, that if they disappeared during the MM, people would have noticed that and commented upon it as strange. The lack of any such comment may be taken as evidence, perhaps, that the aurorae did not disappear. The only real evidence we have of the solar magnetic field still being near ‘normal’ is that the modulation of cosmic rays was not noticeably weaker during the MM.

    Leif isn’t the visibility of the Aurora Borealis at a given location related to the position relative to the magnetic NP? During the MM the Mag NP was closer to Norway and Iceland so that could counter a reduction by other causes.

  130. Sandy (20:18:44) :

    Nasif: Your calculations are presumably based on some assumptions about the pressure and temperature in the centre of the Sun and you conclude fusion is unlikely. However we know that fusion occurs, so it may just be the assumptions that are unlikely.
    “consequently, the only feasible option is quantum tunneling.”
    is the same logic as Man’s CO2 causes Global Warming, and presumes that we know all the relevant science in order to be able to discount other effects.
    If we’re playing silly physics here, remember degeneracy pressure from Pauli’s exclusion principle. Since all the fermion energy are taken to such high energy levels there might be bosonic pairing going on?

    Sandy… Those are not my calculations. You can read them from the references I have given.

    Actually, the problem is not about thermonuclear activity, but on the Coulomb barrier, or potential barrier, which prevents that one proton fuse with another proton. The solution to this problem is quantum tunneling. Quantum tunneling can happen mainly through three simple mechanisms: transverse anisotropy, transverse magnetic field, and oscillatory density of the magnetic field in the potential barrier.

    There are other more sophisticated mechanisms which allow quantum tunneling in the Sun; however, I prefer to handle the most frequent mechanisms, which are the three that I have mentioned before.

  131. Nasif Nahle (20:54:43) :
    Sandy…By the way, it is not silly physics, but quantum mechanics.

    Having read Robert Gilmore’s Alice in Quantumland, I’d say they’re the same thing.

  132. Nasif Nahle.

    You really do talk some balderdash.

    Quantum tunneling in the heart of a star. Really?

    How and more importantly why?

    Of course quantum tunnelling exists, as does the Coulomb barrier.

    But at the pressures and temperatures at the heart of a star not even the Coulomb barrier can prevent fusion.

    What do you imagine we are trying to do in our big Tokomaks? Make toast?

    No we are trying to fuse nuclei directly despite the Coulomb barrier.

    And we have shown we can, which is a long way from generating useful power from the process.

    How can this happen? Simple geometry, a nucleus has a size so the Coulomb force never reaches infinity: and the nuclei touch and fuse.

    That is without discussing weak and strong nuclear forces or quantum mechanics.

    Simplistic but true.

    I just don’t know where you get your ideas from.

    Kindest Regards.

  133. “The extremely low sunspot activity during the period of the Maunder minimum 1645-1715 was confirmed by group sunspot numbers, a new sunspot index constructed by Hoyt and Schatten (1998a,b). Neither sunspots nor auroral data time behavior indicate the presence of 11-year solar cycles as stated by Eddy (1976). The evidence for solar cycles was found in the butterfly diagram, constructed from observations made at Observatoire de Paris. After Clivier, Boriakoff, and Bounar (1998) the solar cycles were reflected also in geomagnetic activity. Results are supported by the variation of cosmogenic isotopes ^10Be and ^14C. The majority of the observed 14 naked-eye sunspots occurred on days when telescopic observations were not available. A part of them appeared in the years when no spot was allegedly observed. Two-ribbon flares appear in plages with only very small or no sunspots. Some of these flares are geoactive. Most aurorae (90%), which were observed during the Maunder minimum, appeared in years when no spot was observed. Auroral events as a consequence of proton flares indicate that regions with enhanced magnetic field can occur on the Sun when these regions do not produce any sunspots. ”

    To which I will take as saying that during these extraordinary low Solar Activity levels, the Sun can produce either sunspots or proton flares giving rise to Aurora, but rarely both. I read it as a very weakened state. Low batteries.
    Still, over time, it builds up and has to go somewhere.
    Sure, a reconstruction can reveal the cycle, but does it tell you how strong that cycle was? Or that the Sun produced proton flares when no spots were around? Or ribbon flares with very weak spots? Apparently, there is something missing that the reconstruction cannot reveal. Relative strength is my guess.

  134. Ric Werme (05:50:58) :

    Thanks Ric- I kinda lost it there…

    Of course, it’s easy to find other statistical papers that should be given a status of “latest update” instead of “the ice is going to be gone by 2030!” (or 2010) or whatever).

    Agreed.

  135. Richard M,
    Thank you for responding.
    I shall continue to grope my way through the fog… Not without enjoyment!

  136. Kevin Kilty (14:49:28) :

    Leif Svalgaard (09:25:55) :

    Carsten Arnholm, Norway (07:33:14) :
    “You never get up early enough to see the red Aurora over the mountain top”
    So, Dass did mention the aurora after all. And sleet, too. And your translation is fine.

    Is your tongue in your cheek, Leif? The aurora mentioned here looks like “the dawn” not the Aurora Borealis.

    I don’t know whether you have travelled or lived in arctic regions, but if you live near the arctic circle (as Petter Dass did) during the winter and don’t get up until dawn, you are a very lazy sleeper :-) Few would refer to that as “early enough”.

    It seems to me Petter Dass had enough knowledge of the Aurora to not confuse it with the dawn.

  137. rbateman (17:28:57) :

    Right now, how do we tell how many spots this year have fallen victim to 1800 Gauss Magnetic Arrest if we never see them?

    We should see some evidence of them in the SOHO magnetograms?

  138. rbateman (22:30:29) :
    “Low batteries.”

    Reply: This comment gave me an idea. Perhaps very active sunspots cool the suns surface at maxma, similar to the way tornados on Earth cool the oceans and currently the dynamo (battery) fuelng this process has slowed down?

    If this is the case and the underlying fusion reaction stays constant, could the reduction in strength of electromagnetic generated sunspots be an indication that lower layers of the sun are gettng hotter? This could perhaps lead to more large CME’s and super-flares which are another more destructve coolng mechanism. Could explain why TSI stays fairly constant during the solar cycle despite all the other changes.

  139. “Actually, the problem is not about thermonuclear activity, but on the Coulomb barrier, or potential barrier, which prevents that one proton fuse with another proton. The solution to this problem is quantum tunneling.”

    A proton can’t fuse with a proton, ever!
    The Coulomb repulsion can only be broken with extra uncharged neutrons to provide enough extra strong force. Thus protons first fuse to neutrons to make deuterium and that gets an extra neutron to make tritium, both of which take energy. One gets paydirt when a 1P1N deuterium smacks into a 1P2N tritium to give 2P2N alpha and a high energy neutron. So the repulsive coulomb force of two protons is outweighed by the combined strong force of five hadrons.
    Our Lady of CERN Anna V. could probably explain it better.

  140. A couple of years ago Pontieri et al. published ”A Simple Model for the Solar Cycle”,

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/kk9612tt547lpt44/

    Let us just assume, for the sake of argument, that their model which is based on the van der Pol equation,

    x” + rx’[x²-1] + x = 0,

    actually can be used as a fairly good approximation of the 11/22 year nonlinear sun cycle. Then, to summarize the discussion, it must be correct to state that,

    1. The 11/22 sun cycle continues even if the visible sun spots disappear.

    2. Both the Aurora and the visible and invisible sun spots follow the 11/22 year sun cycle.

    3. The Aurora and the visible sun spots are not directly correlated, but each are directly correlated to the underlying 11/22 year sun cycle.

    4. If the visible sun spots disappears the Aurora do not need to be weaker or disappear since the underlying 11/22 year sun cycle is always active.

    Let us imagine that the sunspots disappear completely the next two decades. We can then conclude that the Aurora will still follow the 11/22 years cycle. This must be a testable prediction.

  141. Carsten Arnholm, Norway (02:08:08) :

    We should see some evidence of them in the SOHO magnetograms?

    We obviously don’t see them on the Magnetograms that look like polished granite, but we sure do see a lot of pootly lit LED’s on the EIT’s.
    They like to pop in & out on the images over the course of several days, just like our sought-after L&P’ed activity.

  142. Tenuc (02:35:58) :

    Quite. When you boil noodles, you have to stir them, otherwise they boil over.
    The sunspot activity must be convective to keep the cauldron stirred and prevent the excessive spitting of CME’s, etc.
    Low battery: the magnetics to keep the thing stirred properly are too weak.
    TSI: More like a bank balance than a balance sheet. Doesn’t tell you what’s going in and what’s going out, just how much you got or owe.

  143. (warning, anecdote)

    I lived in southern Norway in the ’70’s. Don’t remember any aurora at all. As a kid I’d definitely have remembered something as cool as that.

  144. 3. The Aurora and the visible sun spots are not directly correlated, but each are directly correlated to the underlying 11/22 year sun cycle.

    brings up a problem: If they are both correlated to the 11/22 year sun cycle, why would the spots then go down but not the Aurora?

    Either the Aurora are exclusively a weak Solar-caused phenomena, or they are caused by both Solar and Extrasolar sources. Opportunity for a test: If there are aurora, and no source found that is solar, then we have a smoking gun for both being causative.

  145. http://www.spaceweather.com/

    “SOLAR MINIMUM VS. GLOBAL WARMING: From 2002 to 2008, decreasing solar irradiance has countered much anthropogenic warming of Earth’s surface. That’s the conclusion of researchers Judith Lean (NRL) and David Rind (NASA/GISS), who have just published a new analysis of global temperatures in the Geophysical Research Letters.”

  146. rbateman (13:34:53) :
    brings up a problem: If they are both correlated to the 11/22 year sun cycle, why would the spots then go down but not the Aurora?

    I am just trying to figure out what Dr. Svalgaard is saying. My point is that the solar cycle (A) may both cause sun spots (B) and Aurora (C).

    A may lead to B
    A may lead to C

    However, there is no direct connection between B and C. Sometimes the van der Pol oscillations inside the sun may lead to B, sometimes they may lead to C and sometimes they may lead to both B and C. Is this your opinion Dr. Svalgaard?

    I have absolutely no reason to speculate, but based on my very limited understanding of the solar cycle I would guess that there is a link between the Aurora, the sunspots and, for example, the Arctic surface temperature:

    http://climate4you.com/Polar%20temperatures.htm#NH%2070-90%20TempSince1900

    We see that the previous temperature drop coincidences with the weak solar cycles 14 and 15. This is of course unscientific speculation only.

  147. Mr. Alex (14:35:58) :

    If one assumes that man caused the globe to warm significantly, and that assumption that the trace gas C02 trumps H20 as a heat trap is correct.
    Which really leaves the Sun out of it, as less solar activity also corresponds with increased GCR’s which Svensmark’s experiment shows cause aerosols and H20 clouds to form increasingly. So, increased GCR’s should lead to increased efficiency of trapped heat to offset decreased solar irradience due to lower solar activity, and the reasoning goes into a tailspin.
    Now you are down to a trace gas doing much the same thing, but not affected by solar activity and nothing to account for global temps falling.
    With all the claims of ocean temps rising, polar caps melting, glaciers retreating and now Global Templs falling due to Deep Solar Minimum/decreased solar irradience offsets, it leads me to conclude that AGW at present is a scatterbrained hodgepodge of theory, hype, drum beating and tax schemes.
    Time to lose the frantic dashing about to one alarm after another scenarios and knuckle down to a real story:
    Deep Solar Minimum. That is what is happening right here, right now, on our doorsteps. Let’s deal with it, and get some focus.
    When we have made our preparations for the coming cool-down, and we get our senses back, then we can revisit the AGW theory, and see what we have learned about how it stands with other forces, and should we need to do something about it, we’ll figure out what that is. It certainly should not be G&H Tax & Spill markets.

  148. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still trying to get my head around “active Sun can’t cause warming”, “Inactive Sun causes cooling”.

    DaveE.

  149. DaveE (17:16:55) :

    That’s because you need your CO2D2 decoder ring to decipher the encryption AlGorRhythm. It will lead you on a quest similar to National Treasure and DaVince Code. First stop is the Fortress of Solitude somewhere in Antarctica.

  150. Invariant (15:43:20) :
    I am just trying to figure out what Dr. Svalgaard is saying.
    The aurora is a permanent feature and is present at all times. When the interplanetary magnetic field IMF and the solar wind are strong, the aurorae brighten and the auroral ‘oval’ [around the magnetic pole] expands. Under very disturbed conditions the oval may expand to low latitudes.
    The IMF peaks at solar maximum, while the solar wind speed is often highest during the declining phase, so the aurorae [depending on both] tends to lag the solar cycle by a couple of years.

  151. Interesting article on spaceweather.com.

    “The warmest year on record, 1998, coincides with the ‘super-El Nino’ of 1997-98,” points out Lean. “The ESNO is capable of producing significant spikes in the temperature record.” Solar minimum has the opposite effect: “A 0.1% decrease in the sun’s irradiance has counteracted some of the warming action of greenhouse gases from 2002 – 2008,” she notes. “This is the reason for the well-known ‘flat’ temperature trend of recent years.”

  152. Ric Werme (09:17:49) :

    I don’t think you understand, did you read the papers?

    This is brand new science. Livingston and Penn are the first to report this phenomemon and are quick to say they don’t know how things will turn out.

    I did, however I will admit probably with not quite so much focus as needed the first time.


    The trend appears to be a straight line, so that what they fit it to. What would you have used?

    The analysis of direct data is over 17 years, on a system that has been oscillating for many orders of magnitude more than that – I would be very reticent about [a] trying to fit a straight line to any natural system and [b] attempting any kind of trend analysis on such a small set of data.

    Really, that was the major nub of my earlier ‘rant’.

    Please, go bang your head
    Already done :o)

    – several of rest of us who have been following this find this to be the most fascinating thing we have read in this blog, some to the point of checking with Leif after each sunspeck with “Did Livingston measure it?” “Is it still on the trend line?”
    Each to their own and whatever floats-your-boar is fine by me. Personally, I think monitoring each and every development is a futile exercise as we have no idea how long any cycle might be (better to accumulate then look back). However, that’s just my view and I fully understand when something new tickles the fancy it can be fascinating to follow.


    I’m more patient than that, perhaps if you read both of the papers you would understand that you could learn a little patience yourself

    I will freely admit I was in somewhat of a rush in my previous posting, mea-culpa; patience is something I normally have in abundance (with three kids 17, 13 and 5, you have to have it).

    I agree that the papers and more cautious and balanced than a scan reading inferred and my vective may have been better aimed elsewhere. However, I stand by my point regarding trying to fit ‘trend’ lines to potentially small data sets. I guess I am becoming skeptical of smoothing and trend analysis in general – I wonder why…

    Cheers

    Mark

  153. rbateman (16:53:58) :
    “it leads me to conclude that AGW at present is a scatterbrained hodgepodge of theory, hype, drum beating and tax schemes.”

    I agree with you, I just linked that article because it was the first of its kind on spaceweather in a while.
    I can’t say I agree with most of the article’s points because there surely is some sort of lag, ie this solar minimum won’t come through in the climate for a few years, (it cannot be instantaneous).

    “James F. Evans (23:38:47) :
    “This is the reason for the well-known ‘flat’ temperature trend of recent years.”

    Well, at least she’s willing to own up to that.”

    The climate computer models which assumed CO2 to be the main driver did not predict this as it was not allowed , therefore the initial IPCC hypothesis is invalidated.

  154. I hope Nasif Nahle’s posts following Anthony’s intervention indicate that he contacted both Leif and Anthony off-blog and sorted out the issue (whatever it was).

    I enjoy Nasif’f posts and hope he can contain his fiery Latin temperament so we can continue to have the benefit of his information and insight.

  155. Mr. Alex (02:11:43) :

    The part of the Solar Activity that is part of the daily surface heating should be instantaneous. It’s just moderated by the residual, much as a summer day following a cooling trend doesn’t make it as high in temp as a previous hot day.
    It would be one heck of a rude awakening if, one day, we learned that the present 0.1drop in TSI isn’t all that there is.

  156. Mark Fawcett (00:08:10) :

    I agree that the papers and [are] more cautious and balanced than a scan reading inferred and my vective may have been better aimed elsewhere. However, I stand by my point regarding trying to fit ‘trend’ lines to potentially small data sets. I guess I am becoming skeptical of smoothing and trend analysis in general – I wonder why…

    That’s certainly a fair criticism, and I think everyone involved would love to have a longer data set. There’s a tacit assumption (expectation!) that whatever is going on has happened many times before with likely little harm. If it’s what’s behind the Dalton and Maunder Minima, and it will be impossible to prove, then great. Of course, it would mean at best trading one question for another (what caused the magnetic field strength to decline?)

    The straight line approximation cannot hold for the indefinite future, of course. If it is part of 100 year cycle, then the slope will have to go back up sometime. The definitive paper will have to wait for two or three full cycles or for a convincing theoretical solution, but that’s longer than I care to wait!

  157. Please excuse me for not carefully reading the entire article.

    “According to our measurements, sunspots seem to form only if the magnetic field is stronger than about 1500 gauss,” says Livingston. “If the current trend continues, we’ll hit that threshold in the near future, and solar magnetic fields would become too weak to form sunspots.”

    My previous post…
    “The article says “Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year,” says Penn. “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”

    According to the graph, by 2015, mag fields will be only 1800 gauss. Is that the point at which sunspots vanish? I think someone drew a conclusion from the chart without realizing that the y axis ranged from 1800 to 3200 gauss.”

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