More Signs Of The Sun Slowing Down

In my post from yesterday, I highlighted a paragraph from a NASA press release which touched on one of the final findings of the soon to be ended Ulysses spacecraft mission to study the sun:

“Ulysses ends its career after revealing that the magnetic field emanating from the sun’s poles is much weaker than previously observed. This could mean the upcoming solar maximum period will be less intense than in recent history. “

A few months ago, I had plotted the Average Geomagnetic Planetary Index (Ap) which is a measure of the solar magnetic field strength but also daily index determined from running averages of eight Ap index values. Call it a common yardstick (or meterstick) for solar magnetic activity.

solar-geomagnetic-Ap Index

Click for a larger image

I had noted that there was a curious step function in 2005, almost as if something had “switched off”.

Today, since it is fathers day, and I get to do whatever I want, I chose to revisit this graph. Later I plan to take my children to launch model rockets, but for now, here are some interesting new things I’ve found.

First, I’ve updated the original Ap graph to June 2008 as you can see below.

Click for a larger image

Source data, NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center:

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

As you can see, the Ap Index has continued along at the low level (slightly above zero) that was established during the drop in October 2005. As of June 2008, we now have 32 months of the Ap hovering around a value just slightly above zero, with occasional blips of noise.

Since it is provided in the same dataset, I decided to also plot the smoothed Ap Index. I had noted to myself back in February that the smoothed Ap Index had dropped to minus 1.0. I figured it was just an artifact of the smoothing algorithm, but today that number remains there, and there doesn’t appear to be any change even though we’ve had a bit of noise in March that put the Ap Index back up to 10 for that month.

I also plotted my own 24 month smoothing window plot, shown in magenta.

Click for a larger image

I find it curious that the smoothed value provided by SWPC remains at -1. I figure if it is a software error, they would have noted and fixed it by now, and if they haven’t then perhaps they are standing by the number. Odd. One possibility may be that they are using a 12 month fixed window, instead of a moving window month to month. If so, then why show the -1.0 data values? Put nulls — in the dataset.

UPDATE: Astute reader Jorma Kaskiseiväs points out something I missed. The explanation is in the header for the dataset file, a short note: # Missing data: -1″. I was looking in the companion readme file for an explanation. Thanks for pointing this out. Surprising though that SWPC does not use a running average. Easy to do as I’ve shown.

While I was searching for something that could explain this, I came across this plot from NOAA’s NGDC which was used to illustrate solar storm frequency related to sunspots:

Click for original source image, a larger plot is here via FTP link.

But what I found was most interesting was the data file they provided, which had the number of days in a year where the Ap Index exceeded 40. You can view that data file yourself here via FTP link. The accompanying readme file for the data is also available here.

What is most striking is that since 1932, there have not been ANY years prior to 2007 that have zero data. The closest was 1996:

1996 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1

———————————————————–

YEAR JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC TOTAL

———————————————————–

2005 3 0 2 1 3 2 2 2 3 0 0 0 18

2006 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5

2007 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

2008 0 0 0 0 0 0

Now we have almost two years.

Here is my plot of the above dataset:

Click for a larger image

I also decided to plot the 10.7 centimeter band solar radio flux, also a metric of solar activity. It is in the same SWPC dataset file as the Ap Index, in columns 8 and 9. Oddly the smoothed 10.7 CM flux value provided by SWPC also has dropped precipitously and stayed there. I also provided my own 24 month wind smoothed value which is plotted in magenta.

Click for a larger image

Like the smoothed Ap Index, it has also stayed that way a few months. NOTE: The data past Dec 2007 on the blue line from SWPC is not valid. The smoothed 24 month window is.

Either way it appears we continue to slide into a deeper than normal solar minima, one not seen in decades. Given the signs, I think we are about to embark upon a grand experiment, over which we have no control.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Clark

Are those drops in the blue smoothing lines due to the fact that the smoothing window gets beyond the available data?
REPLY: That’s a possibility, but why would they advanc ethe window? One possibility may be that they are using a 12 month window, but instead of beign a moving window month to month, they step it by year?
It’s just plain odd that SWPC would do this. Maybe Leif Svaalgard will chime in and offer an explanation.

I think it was Einstein that said \”The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results.\”

Raven

Hi Anthony,
A suggestion for a blog post (and an invitation to any readers that would know where to look for the info).
California has been a long proponent of the ‘if you legislate it the market will build’ school of thought. I am not that familiar with the different initiatives but I do seem to recall that California is frequently forced to back pedal because, in the end, the required technology did not magically appear (e.g. practical electric cars).
California’s experience probably has a lot of lessons for those people pushing cap and trade and carbon taxes. I would not assume that it is all bad – the successes would be interesting as well but I am willing to bet that the successes occurred only when a viable technology existed but just needed time to be deployed. Does anyone know of a successful previously unknown technology that was developed in response to these kinds of mandates?

Daryl Ritchison

I found it interesting that you mentioned that here have not been ANY years prior to 2007 that have zero data. The closest was 1996, because at my location 1996 was the last year we’ve had temperatures this cold and actually 2008 has been slightly colder.
Plus 1996 was also the last year that Fargo, ND had a top 10 coldest year on record (including the 1880s data set with questionable measuring techniques) and this year so far is easily within reach of that unless we have a huge turnaround this later this summer into the autumn season.
Anyway, good read. I may try to incorporate this into the daily column we do for our local paper.

Curt

Raven:
The prototype for the “if you legislate it they will build it” school of lawmaking was the original US Clean Air Act. No one knew how cars could meet those emissions standards, but then Ford scientists developed the catalytic converter, and Ford did not enforce its patent rights.
Unfortunately, this lucky success led legislators to believe this was an easily repeatable event.

Richard deSousa

This is indeed getting curiouser and curiouser….

David Walton

While I prefer science to politics (I’ll take the scientific method over any other, thank you) humans have always been political as well as and curious and inquisitive beings.
That said I can be as political as the next guy and, to be honest, I hope that these indicators of a possible downturn in the energy output of the sun are true. AGW, in my humble opinion, has too long been little more than inflated hysterics and hype. Frankly, I am fed up with this nonsense. A good cool spell would be a welcome event and demonstrate what I suspect to be the single most important parameter in long term global temperature trends — the sun.
If only another mini ice-age would —
1) Cool off the IPCC.
2) Give some pause to the the AGW scientists, bureaucrats, and politicians who suck up all the funding and stifle, defund, intimidate, and marginalize scientists who do not tow the AGW line.
3) Shut up the insufferable Al Gore for a decade or two.

DAV

Anthony:

That’s a possibility, but why would they advance the window? One possibility may be that they are using a 12 month window, but instead of being a moving window month to month, they step it by year?

I come close by calculating an average of the preceding and following 6 month (including the center month) but can’t quite get the same value. Maybe its weighted by the number of days. OTOH, could be a different algorithm, like a Gaussian kernel. But it’s quite likely the Smoothed Ap value is in the center of whatever is used for smoothing.
In any case, -1 means NA so if you’re using R (or S), you can say data$Ap[data$Ap==-1] = NA. When plotted the NA’s are dropped.

Bill

A tad off topic, but the NCDC temp data for May has been released. NCDC says the Mar/Apr/May time period is the seventh hottest on record. Isn’t the divergence between NCDC/GISS and satellite RSS/UAH becoming a tad ludicrous? NCDC needs to make that bold leap into the 21st century as far as temp measurements are concerned.

Jorma Kaskiseiväs

It says so in the RecentIndices.txt header:
# Missing data: -1
REPLY: Ah, my bad. Thanks for pointing it out. I missed that altogether, I looked in the readme file for an explanation and found none.

Anthony wrote: “Today, since it is fathers day, and I get to do whatever I want, I chose to revisit this graph. Later I plan to take my children to launch model rockets, but for now, here are some interesting new things I’ve found.”
They still allow you to do that out there in La La Land? Do you have to purchase carbon credits first?
Jack Koenig, Editor
The Mysterious Climate Project
http://www.climateclinic.com

Aaron C

Bill: Are you certain about the NCDC “7th hottest spring” data? I just checked the NCDC “climate at a glance” page, and the plot for spring 2008 shows that most of the US was average or colder for the season, only 3-4 states warmer than avg (Texas and a couple of northeastern states).

dennis ward

It will be interesting to see , if , despite this lower solar activity, global temperatures rise, what will be the next sceptical theory that totally ignores 6.5 billion people (and rising) responsible for pumping 50 thousand tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every minute, every day and every year.
Why do your Ap graphs not show any change in 1998 when global temperatures spiked? Is this an acceptance that earthly factors (i.e. El Nino) were far more influential?
And why is the American media refusing to put two and two together over global warming and the increased levels of global flooding as predicted by climate change models?
http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/6/12/102024/948/

Robert Wood

I am thinking of Voyager (I and II, not Star Trek II).
Thee apparently are cominginto contact with the hekliosheath. If the Sun is so much weaker magnetically, then we have been lucky for the spacecraft to have been launched at such a time, otherwise tyhe heliosheath would still be far away.

Pamela Gray

There are lots of reasons for floods. Heavy snow melt, fronts colliding, jet stream sags into hotter areas of the US, 100 year floods not allowed to seep into flood plains so the rivers crest into towns instead, towns expanding since 100 years ago and now when it floods it floods basements instead of wet lands, etc. We also get daily coverage, minute by minute, 24 hours a day, news. Any time there is a flood, it makes it into our living rooms. 100 years ago, we just moved to higher ground till the flood ended. Now we look for signs from God that our mother caused it. The Missoula Floods were caused by ice jams breaking, then building, then breaking, again and again as the Earth cycled through warming and cooling. Now those were FLOODS!!!! Can you imagine what people would be saying today if we had a flood like that? There would likely be a laundry list of all the things that caused that ice to build up, damn up the water, then break free.

JP

Dennis,
Anyone with a shred of meterological training knows that this year’s severe weather and attendent flooding in North America is caused by the La Nina event of the last year. Also, climate models do not project anything, but people infer things from them. The current run of global cooling was predicted by any climate models in the recent past.

evanjones

As I behold the dying sun, with brightened eyes.
It’s light will then/soon dis/appear? from/in the land of death.
The frozen land of death.
Of death.
The winter, the darkness, the kingdom of all the night.
Of all the night.
I can hear the sun’s breathing, the dying sun,
Behold the last of him, it will faint to grey.
To grey.
To grey.
The wings of winter, will rise as it dies.
The crystal ground will ask the sun to die.
Die!
As the sun die
Die!
The winter, the darkness, the kingdom of all the night.
Of all the night.
Behold the dying sun.

Jared

Dennis,
Ah, so now the flooding in the Midwest is due to global warming. But we must also remember that droughts, blizzards, hurricanes, tornados, ice melt, ice increase, and any other number of weather events are directly attributable to global warming.
Here’s the simple 2+2 you are missing: global temperatures aren’t rising, and they haven’t for a decade. Why has this Nina dropped temperatures just as low as the La Nina in 1999, even though that one was just as strong? Shouldn’t the underlying global warming have made temperatures a bit warmer this time around?

poetSam

Dennis, ah honesty at last. It’s those pesky other humans. Which ones do you suggest should die.
Evan,
Your poetry is fine
though it don’t seem to rhyme.
If I thought you not a him
I would guess
Ursela K. LeGuin

Philip_B

I have a link, on my other computer unfortunately, showing global flood frequency over the last 30 years.
It shows a slight increasing trend caused by more minor floods (probably a reporting frequency over that time.
More importantly, it shows a clear downward trend in major floods over the period.
Here it is,
http://www.dartmouth.edu/%7Efloods/archiveatlas/severitygraph.htm

deadwood

I think we are about to embark upon a grand experiment, over which we have no control.
Its a well known Chinese Curse to live in interesting times. Well, here we are again.

As some has pointed out, the various ‘-1’s simply mean ‘missing data’. For the smoothed values it simply means no smoothing was done because there was no data. Cycle 23 is low, but not anomalously so: Cycle 13 [some 107 years ago] was very similar. It simply means that we are returning to the quiet solar conditions we have observed about every 100 years, and cycle 24 will probably be lower than 23, just as 14 was lower than 13, although we don’t know why there should be such a ~100 year cycle. Because of the measured weaker polar fields, the prediction of a low cycle 24 is not simply an extrapolation, but a real prediction based on [albeit poorly understood] physical theory. Cycle 24 will be a test of that theory. Should cycle 24 turn out to be large [or even average], the theory is clearly wrong and we [Schatten and I] are back to square one. Luckily, there are other theories [e.g. Dikpati et al’s] that can take over so we are not completely in the dark.

jeeztheadmin

Should cycle 24 turn out to be large [or even average], the theory is clearly wrong and we [Schatten and I] are back to square one. Luckily, there are other theories [e.g. Dikpati et al’s] that can take over so we are not completely in the dark.
Spoken like a true scientist. Others who shall not be named should hang their heads in shame.

crosspatch

Just for grins I went back and looked at the SOHO “movies” of solar activity from September and October to see if I could notice any visual changes about the time the data had that step-change. I didn’t see anything, though, except there seemed to be a lot more and larger CMEs in September than October.

crosspatch

SOHO movies from September and October of 2005, that is.

Kim Mackey

Dr. Svalgaard,
Since we have not been able to measure the polar fields with much accuracy for very long, is it possible that your estimate for cycle 24 max is actually high?
It will be quite exciting in an academic sense to see what happens with cycle 24.
Kim Mackey
===================
Because of the measured weaker polar fields, the prediction of a low cycle 24 is not simply an extrapolation, but a real prediction based on [albeit poorly understood] physical theory. Cycle 24 will be a test of that theory. Should cycle 24 turn out to be large [or even average], the theory is clearly wrong and we [Schatten and I] are back to square one. Luckily, there are other theories [e.g. Dikpati et al’s] that can take over so we are not completely in the dark.

evanjones

Your poetry is fine
though it don’t seem to rhyme.

Ah, but it isn’t mine!
All quoted, line by line.
(If it isn’t my own ranting
I make the letters slanting.)

tester

test

poetSam

I’ve learned to slant
this is quite swell,
now my rhymes
look less like hell.

Bill

AronC,
Well, I’m certainly not sure, but the NCDC report was for the world, not just the US. They state the US has been cooler but overall this was the 8th warmest spring on record (not seventh as I previously erroneously posted). http://global-warming.accuweather.com/

Mackey: The polar field measurements go back indirectly two more cycles [to 1954] and there is little doubt we have enough of a baseline to be pretty sure. There is, however, another possibility, namely that if Livingston and Penn [as was discussed in an earlier post] are correct that sunspots [i.e. their magnetic fields] would still be there in the predicted amount, but that the actual spots would be less visible [smaller contrast] and thus undercounted leading to a ‘too low’ sunspot number. This is all very exiting and the Sun may have some surprise in store for us.

KuhnKat

Dennis Ward,
thank you for the SKY IS FALLING view. Would you now please put it in context by presenting data on what percentage this HUGE amount of anthropogenic CO2 is compared to naturally occurring??
In addition, please post any evidence you may have that directly shows increases of CO2 up to, say 1000 PPM will be bad for the earth??
Thank you.

Bill Marsh

Dennis Ward,
And if they continue to drop (as they have since 2002 or 1999 depending)? Then what? Seems to me a negative correlation, which now exists between temp and CO2 level for almost the last decade is enough to make people start wondering about the validity of the claimed ‘overwhelming’ CO2 effect on temp. I don;t see it. CO2 has an effect, certainly, but not nearly as egregious as the ‘global Warming Disaster’ advocates seem to think. Personally, I think our change in land use from forest/prairie to agriculture has more of an effect than CO2 – just a hypothesis, not even a theory atm. Logarithmic effects and that pesky water vapor sucking up all the energy from most of the bandwidth CO2 affects seem to be winning out.
Actually the GCMs don’t ‘predict’ anything, they are sensitivity runs that test the sensitivity of various inputs. Seems if you look hard enough you can find someone who claims GCMs ‘predicted’ virtually any event you’d are to name from more hurricanes to less, higher temps to lower, more rain to less, more storms to less, etc. Makes things easy if any occurance is ‘predicted’

Caleb

JP,
If the current cooling was predicted by modles, why did people like Hanson predict warming and the infamous “super El nino?”
Dennis Ward,
Regarding the 1998 El Nino. I read somewhere it may have been a delyed responce to the two big eruptions five years earlier. (Pinetubo and El-???) The suggestion was that at first the eruptions cooled the world, but after the ash settled another effect kicked in. Apparently the sulfur had destroyed a lot of ozone, which allowed the sun’s rays to penetrate and heat more effectively. So….there’s no avoiding the sun.
This is only one of several theories I’ve chanced across which attempt to explain why major eruptions often seem to cause El Nino’s. The more I read the more I understand how complex the system is.

swampie

Dennis, you must be right! After all, roughly 15,000 years ago, Florida had an area twice what it does now.
I blame the paleoindians and their SUVs.

deadwood

From Tim Ball’s article in the Canada Free Press.
http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/3482
CO2 EMISSIONS : Range Gt C/year
1. Respiration Humans, Animals, Phytoplankton 43.5 to 52.0
2. Ocean Outgassing (Tropical Areas) 90.0 to 100.0
3. Volcanoes, Soil degassing 0.5 to 2.0
4. Soil Bacteria, Decomposition 50.0 to 60.0
5. Forest cutting, Forest fires 0.6 to 2.6
Total 184.6 to 216.6
Anthropogenic emissions (2005) 7.5
Anthropogenic Percentage of Total 4.1% to 3.5%
The AGW hypothesis is based on accumulation of that 4% human component of CO2 emissions. It assumes positive feedback from water vapor and assumes the planet and its environment does not adapt to changing conditions. There are other assumptions as well, such as no significant natural warming or cooling mechanisms.
The 4% is pretty tiny and the assumptions are contrary to observed phenomena, but aside from that the debate is settled.

anna v

Leif Svalgaard (20:35:41) :
‘There is, however, another possibility, namely that if Livingston and Penn [as was discussed in an earlier post] are correct that sunspots [i.e. their magnetic fields] would still be there in the predicted amount, but that the actual spots would be less visible [smaller contrast] and thus undercounted leading to a ‘too low’ sunspot number.”
Something completely funny in this statement.
Certainly the hypothesis of invisible sunspots with smaller contrasts is permissible, but why would they not always exist and always be undercounted?
Let me give an simple example:
Let us watch a boiling pot of water and count the frequency of bubles. At some point our method of measurement will stop counting microbubbles, which of course are there always.
Let us lower the heat that boils the water. Fewer bubbles and still uncounted invisible ones, but I think everybody would concede that a correct ballpark estimate of the heat boiling the water could be made by the bubble count.
Is there a viable explanation of why “invisible” sunspots would be less important in the counting if there are many visible ones? Conservation law? A sort of quantum number conservation? I am not ironic, with electromagnetic fields involved topological countings might also play a role.

[…] …the Ap Index has continued along at the low level (slightly above zero) that was established during the drop in October 2005. As of June 2008, we now have 32 months of the Ap hovering around a value just slightly above zero, with occasional blips of noise. … [more] […]

anna: go read the Livingston and Penn paper first. What they find is that the temperature within the sunspots have steadily increased the past 15 years due to a decrease of the magnetic field at the darkest point inside the spots. The contrast between the spot and the surrounding photosphere depends on the temperature: the cooler the spot, the less light does it emit and hence the bigger is the contrast and the easier it is to see the spot. So, what is so funny? That you didn’t do your homework 🙂

crosspatch

I believe that it might indeed be possible for the contrast of the spots to be greatly reduced but the fact is, we aren’t seeing that happen. We have instruments now that will pick up the magnetic anomaly so we can tell if such a spot is there, but we aren’t seeing them. We still see spots, and it wasn’t all that long ago … couple of months, I believe, where we had three quite impressive sunspot groups on the Sun at the same time, though they didn’t last long.
What I seem to be seeing is smaller magnetic anomalies, fewer of them, and they last a shorter period of time. While it is certainly possible to have “spots” with a high enough temperature that they don’t contrast with the surface, we aren’t seeing any evidence of any such spots that I know of.

dennis ward

So how come that temperatures ROSE from 1985 to 1998 when the sun ‘s activity DECLINED? How could anybody believe in a theory in which the correlation was totally the opposite of what was expected? And last year was the second warmest on record in the Northern Hemisphere, despite all this talk of global cooling. So there must be other factors involved besides the sun. Ones that are staring you in the face.
And even IF the sun forecasters are right (note, THESE forecasters are of course to be believed) and there is going to be a contribution from declining solar activity in making the earth cooler, this is only a temporary reprieve. It will not stop the remorseless rise in CO2 levels.
As for man-made warming, nobody with any credibility is arguing that man-made emissions ALONE affects the global temperature. But it is a major contributing factor as emissions of any greenhouse gases from ANY source into the atmosphere are. Why is this so difficult to accept or understand? I am sure that had there not been any political implication involved or there was nothing that could be done about it, this would not even be in dispute. Try to see all this from a detached point of view, if that is possible.
My politics have always been right wing but I can see that 6.5 billion people constantly pumping so much Co2 into the air is bound to have an effect on the planet, so what is stopping other people?
The left have been allowed to monopolise global warming and introduce stupid ideas like carbon-trading, which will not do anything to stop global warming. The only thing that will stop man-made global warming is a reduction in the number of humans. Any other action is bound to fail.
And that reduction should be in the form of encouraging contraception in areas of a rapidly growing population.
It is time the right got on the case instead of pretending the elephant in the room does not exist. Too much time is being wasted by the left with their half-baked ideas.

anna v

“Leif Svalgaard (22:01:26) :
anna: go read the Livingston and Penn paper first. What they find is that the temperature within the sunspots have steadily increased the past 15 years due to a decrease of the magnetic field at the darkest point inside the spots. The contrast between the spot and the surrounding photosphere depends on the temperature: the cooler the spot, the less light does it emit and hence the bigger is the contrast and the easier it is to see the spot. So, what is so funny? That you didn’t do your homework 🙂 ”
This statement is clear, and yes I did go and read the first post here. What is not clear is why this mechanism would be at work only when there are no sunspots to be counted as visible. There should be a continuum on the visible and invisible count, possibly in proportionality, to first order: the more sunspots the more invisible sunspots ( hence my bubbles analogy), unless there is some conserved quantity that forces visible into invisible and vice versa with the change in magnetic fields.
So basically I am asking: is there some physics reason that the number of magnetic vortexes are fixed? If not the statement “that sunspots [i.e. their magnetic fields] would still be there in the predicted amount” still is strange for me.

Dennis,
this is exactly what is wrong in the AGW theory. We – the “civilized” people – destroyed natural habitats in Europe and North America. We use the vast majority of the resources of the planet. And now, when a lot of other human beings want to reach our wellness level we ask them (the rapidly growing population) to stop.
Data show us that no global warming is in place in the last decade. No AGW is demonstrated in a scientific way. That’s all. We have to find a solution for the problems of mankind without this powerful para-religious tool.

Steve

Cycle 23 is low, but not anomalously so: Cycle 13 [some 107 years ago] was very similar. It simply means that we are returning to the quiet solar conditions we have observed about every 100 years, and cycle 24 will probably be lower than 23, just as 14 was lower than 13, although we don’t know why there should be such a ~100 year cycle. Because of the measured weaker polar fields, the prediction of a low cycle 24 is not simply an extrapolation, but a real prediction based on [albeit poorly understood] physical theory. Cycle 24 will be a test of that theory.

Please could Dr svalgaard point us to a summary of the physical theory he mentions or praisee it for us here.
What is the prediction for the R value of cycle 24 and how is it derived from the physical theory?
Thanks
Steve

Pete

I recall Anthony asking about the ‘aa’ index last time he reviewed this. I recall posting a link to the data, but I realise it takes time to assemble data. The following link holds values of ‘aa’ since 1868.
http://isgi.cetp.ipsl.fr/source/indices/aa/
I’ve been updating this anyway for a while now, so I’ve already assembled the data since 1900 into a Yearly Spreadsheet. I’ve zipped it up here if anyone is interested:
http://weathersim.co.uk/pics/aa_1900_2008.zip
If we look at the ‘aa’ since 1900 to May 2008, then we can see the current period equals that of the mid 1960’s or even mid 1930’s, from the POV of the low level and length of Low period based on the Smoothing (12 Month shown in White).
http://weathersim.co.uk/pics/aa_1900_2008.gif
If we now take the period Mid 1986 to Now. The reason for Mid 1986 is to get an equivalent period of Solar Min to Solar Min, we can see the Red trend line shown has on average dropped from around 26 in 1986 to around 20 now.
http://weathersim.co.uk/pics/aa_1986_2008.gif
(Sorry, can’t work out how to insert images on this Blog – maybe Anthony can do this for me!)

anna: consider the simplified case of every sunspot cycle being the same. The number of active regions vary from 0 at minimum to 100 at maximum, then back to 0 and the whole thing repeats indefinitely. The real sun is almost like this except that the maximum number [100] is somewhat variable. Assume that the temperature of the active magnetic regions vary on a longer time scale. Then the contrast and hence the visibility of the regions vary on that longer time scale. When the contrast is zero, none of the regions of that cycle are visible, but they are still there. When the contrast is 1, all of the regions of that cycle are visible, so the maximum number of sunspots in each cycle will vary from 0 to 100 as the contrast varies from 0 to 1, while the maximum number of active regions in each cycle stays constant = 100. The constancy of this number is, of course, not needed. The argument works whatever the actual number of regions is. On top of this, you can easily image a distribution of region sizes such that with low contrast preferably the smaller spots become harder to see. So, when the temperature of the regions is higher, there will be an undercount of spots. If the temperature of the spots vary with, say a four hundred year period the spots will disappear every four hundred years [a ‘Maunder Minimum’]. The magnetic active regions will cycle as usual.

Alex Cull

If the lack of visible sunspots is indeed a sign that we’re shifting into a Dalton- or Maunder-type minimum, I think it possible that the GW debate will still persist. Did some reading up on the Little Ice Age, and although there were some brutally cold winters and cool summers, there appear to have also been some extremely hot summers in the northern hemisphere, e.g. in 1788. From Brian Fagan’s 1999 book “Floods, Famines, and Emperors”: “The Little Ice Age was not a monolithic deep freeze, but a period of constant, and sometimes remarkable, climatic shifts between torrid summers and subzero winters.” Perhaps there will still be enough freakishly hot summers in the years to come, to convince many that there is still an underlying warming signal?

skepticsglobalwarming

It’s become painfully clear that man-made carbon dioxide can’t, in the very least, be the sole contributor to global warming. It’s just unfortunate that those who push this anthropogenic global warming hoax on everyone can’t see the forest for the trees and admit to themselves that other natural processes are at work here.

JP

Dennis,
The main question is one of degree. How come you cannot understand this? The Alarmists (who occupy most of the govermental and public research branches) argue that GHGs contribute to virtually ALL of the warming since 1900. Niether natural oceanic oscillations or solar irradiance, they argue, have much to do with climate. They attempted to explain thier theories through paleo-climate reconstructions (Think MBH9X), through climate modeling (GCMs), and tracking recent global temperature trends (NOAA, GISS, and HadCrut). In every case, sceptics have discovered serious flaws, mistakes, or mis-representations. The degree of warming (or for that fact cooling) that can be attributed to GHGs in fact cannot be supported by the facts. How much warming can be attributed to GHGs is still open for questioning (that is, the science is not settled). You seem to want to take the easy way out (can’t we all just get along).

There is not one solution to the problems of mankind. First we improved our lot in a big way when we learned to cultivate drops and to use domestic animals for food, fiber and energy. The second big leap was when we learned to use metals. The third was when we learned to turn heat into movement and to use subterranean coal and hydrogen as fuel. Resources will run out only provided we have reached the end of technical innovations. If we continue innovating, we see that the universe is made of energy and that mineral raw materials can be recycled endlessly, so I don’t see the problem in practical terms. The AGW faith is just an economic suicide sect on a global scale, striving for the northkoreanization of the West under he sign of the hocstica.