Response from SIDC on the August sunspeck debacle


August 21st sketch from Catainia Observatory, Italy. Click for a larger image

I had thought I was getting “blown off” by SIDC (Solar Influences Data Center) since I had not heard a response to two emails I sent…that is until today, over a week later. At least it appears they’ll correct the southern hemisphere error. Perhaps Leif can explain to us about the other stations that reported a spot that we haven’t heard about until now. Note, this may be a form letter, since it starts with “Dear Sir”. I suspect they got a lot of email. I’m convinced though, that 100 plus years ago, this speck would have gone unreported, and thus we now have a non- homogenous sunspot database due to changes in procedures and improvements in instrumentation. That is the most important issue that needs to be addressed. – Anthony


NOTE: Email addresses redacted to prevent spambot harvesting
—– Original Message —–
From: “Ronald Van der Linden” Ronald.Vanderlinden@xxxx.be
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 8:07 AM
Subject: Re: [Fwd: Fw: Request for correction of August 21/22 2008 sunspot data]

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for your interest in our activities and your feedback. The sunspot data for August have attracted a lot of attention already. More than they deserve maybe, because although it is true that we now have a long period of very low sunspot number, this is not yet something that is going to change the world.

I should first explain that we issue the sunspot index, which is the result of a statistical method applied to data from many stations, at three different  times and with three different ‘qualities’:
1) the Estimated Internationals Sunspot Number (EISN) on a daily basis, with only a few stations and without a consistent recalculation of the K-factor of the stations
2) the Provisional International Sunspot Number on a monthly basis, always on the first of the month in principle before 11am, using an automated procedure with as little manual intervention as possible
3) the Definitive International Sunspot Number on a quarterly basis, when we have received data from all the contribution observatories. In this procedure, manual verification is used to remove inconsistencies, such as indeed the problem of hemispheric distribution that occurred in August.

About the data on August 21-22: indeed, many stations did not report any spots on August 21 and 22. Yet, a not insignificant number of stations DID send us reports of spot observation. This included indeed Catania Observatory, one of our main data providers. However, is it not at all the case that only Catania reported spots. If that were the case, the final outcome would have been zero indeed.

On August 21, a total of 17 stations reported spots (mostly a single spot). On August 22, 14 stations reported spots. This is sufficient to warrant a non-zero sunspot number for those days.

Concerning the hemispheric distribution, there it is obviously physically impossible to distribute the one spot observed over the two hemispheres. However, we received observation reports both in southern and in northern hemisphere, and with an automated procedure such as we
use for the provisional sunspot numbers, it is not evident to decide between north or south location. Combined with low sunspot counts (creating already doubts about whether to select zero or not) and the physically meaningful constraint but that is not obvious to implement statistically that total equals north+south, this sometimes leads to the current result. At the time that we provide the definitive numbers (typically after 3-6 months), based on all observers in the network, manual intervention will be used to determine the best choice for the hemispheric location. (In this instance, this choice will be simple, since only one observer put the spot in the south on August 21, while 2 did so on August 22.)

Kind regards,
Ronald Van der Linden

My original email follows:

> ——– Original Message ——–
> Subject: Fw: Request for correction of August 21/22 2008 sunspot data
> Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 08:03:09 -0700
> From: Anthony Watts – TVWeather awatts@xxxxxx.com
> To: rvdlinden@xxxx.org
> CC: sidctech@xxxx.be
>
> Dear Sirs,
>
> Your sunspot data for August 21st and August 22nd 2008 appears to be in
> error, as published on this web page:
>
> http://sidc.oma.be/products/ri_hemispheric/
>
> 21 7 4 3
> 22 8 4 4
> As you know, the 3rd column are ’spots’ in the Northern hemisphere, and
> the 4th column are ’spots’ in the Southern hemisphere
> [both weighted with the ‘k’-factor: SSN = k(10g+s)].
>
> But in reality, there weren’t any in the southern hemisphere observed at
> all either on SOHO, or in many amateur solar photographs published on
> that date, such as these from www.spaceweather.com
> <http://www.spaceweather.com>
>
> http://spaceweather.com/submissions/large_image_popup.php?image_name=Pete-Lawrence-2008-08-21_12-13-04_SF100ss_1219324710.jpg
>
> There has been some discussion that the questionable sunspot data for
> 08/21 and 08/22 originated at Catania Observatory in Italy.
>
> The Catania spot was at 15 degrees north latitude, not in the southern
> hemisphere, and as proof of that, I offer the drawings from Cantania
> those days.
>
> ftp://ftp.ct.astro.it/sundraw/OAC_D_20080821_063500.jpg
> ftp://ftp.ct.astro.it/sundraw/OAC_D_20080822_055000.jpg
>
> Might there have been a transcription or transmission error of some
> sorts? A confirmation and error check of this data is requested.
>
> Further, there are other prominent observatories that did not record the
> blemishes on the sun those days as “spots”, as they appear to be pores,
> there did not appear to be a well-defined penumbra.
>
> And other prominent solar observatories rightly ignored this as a pore.
>
> For example, at the 150 foot solar solar tower at the Mount Wilson
> Observatory <http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~obs/cur_drw.html>, the drawings
> from those dates show no spots at all:
>
> ftp://howard.astro.ucla.edu/pub/obs/drawings/dr080821.jpg
>
> ftp://howard.astro.ucla.edu/pub/obs/drawings/dr080822.jpg
>
> NOAA does not recognize these as spots either:
>
> :Product: Daily Space Weather Indices dayind.txt
> :Issued: 2008 Sep 01 1815 UT
> # Prepared by the US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction
> Center
> # Product description and SWPC contact on the Web
> # http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/wwire.html
> #
> # Daily Space Weather Indices
> #
>
> 0801dayind.txt- 0 66 67 A0.0 -999
> 0802dayind.txt- 0 66 67 A0.0 -999
> 0803dayind.txt- 0 66 67 A0.0 -999
> 0804dayind.txt- 0 66 67 A0.0 -999
> 0805dayind.txt- 0 67 67 -1.0 -999
> 0806dayind.txt- 0 67 67 -1.0 -999
> 0807dayind.txt- 0 66 67 -1.0 -999
> 0808dayind.txt- 0 66 67 -1.0 -999
> 0809dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0810dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0811dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0812dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0813dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0814dayind.txt- 0 66 66 A0.0 -999
> 0815dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0817dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0818dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0819dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0820dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0821dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0822dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0823dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0824dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0825dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0826dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0827dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0828dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0829dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0830dayind.txt- 0 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
> 0831dayind.txt- -1 -1 -1 -1.0 -999
>
> Thus, with all that I have presented above, it is my sincere hope that
> SIDC will investigate the matter, and issue a correction for the
> erroneous southern hemisphere data, and possibly the existence of any
> sunspots at all on those dates.
>
> Thank you for your kind consideration.
>
> Anthony Watts
>
> __________ NOD32 3430 (20080910) Information __________
>
> This message was checked by NOD32 antivirus system.


Royal Observatory of Belgium
Ringlaan 3
B-1180 Brussel (Belgium)
Tel ++32-(0)2-3730249    Fax ++32-(0)2-3730224
http://sidc.oma.be    http://www.astro.oma.be

============================================================================
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============================================================================
== Perfect ben je nooit, maar je komt er dichter bij als je in team werkt ==
============================================================================

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120 thoughts on “Response from SIDC on the August sunspeck debacle

  1. There must be a problem with measurement consistency as I don’t believe the spot(s) August 21/22 would have been identified throughout the history of sunspot measurements.

  2. I have bigger spots on my monitor. I had to scroll to see which one belonged to the graphic and which ones need to be cleaned

  3. I made that comment some time ago about the detection of sunspots in the ol’ days. Even with today’s hightech, this little sunspot almost went undetected. You can bet your lab coats that there must have been at least one of those during those spotless days recording. If that is the case, we might be at the top of the list without know it.

  4. I’m sure it wasn’t his intent, but this sounds a little ominous.

    “…this is not yet something that is going to change the world.”

    MikeEE

  5. MikEE,

    I did not find it so much omnious as dimissive and condecending, it was sarcasm pure and simple, trust me I know.

    I still do not really understand how they count /distribute these but it seems to be by popular opinion or sledge hammer as necessary.

  6. “although it is true that we now have a long period of very low sunspot number, this is not yet something that is going to change the world.”

    A tad snarky, doncha think? Although much could be made of the word ‘yet’. :) How long would the inactivity have to continue before it does?

  7. Lots of people knew there was something to look for based on the multiple satellite and other images we have of the sun now. So if they knew where to look for it, and pointed their telescopes at the right region, it doesn’t surprise me at all that a lot of people “found” it.

    This goes back to the point: Back in the Day, if you didn’t know something was on the sun and where, are you going to stare at one region and adjust and wipe your eyes and clean your lenses and look again a little harder until you finally think you see something? Doubtful.

    Don’t we do double-blind experiments to help keep even the most conscientious scientists from subconsciously leaning toward a particular outcome?

    IMO any observation of the sun done by observers who already know that something is there is an invalid observation, if the goal is to maintain consistency back to the beginning of the record.

  8. Perhaps Leif can explain to us about the other stations that reported a spot that we haven’t heard about until now
    There is no other spot [and even if there were only one spot as per SIDC “However, is it not at all the case that only Catania reported spots. If that were the case, the final outcome would have been zero indeed” if would not have been counted anyway. The problem is that by having a large number of observers their quality obviously vary and the chance of clerical errors increase. Ronald has repeatedly explained to me “Dear Leif, We’ve already discussed this before. The separation of the one spot over the two hemispheres is due to the fact that some observers do send us wrong locations” that they know that some observers do send in wrong data.
    According to SIDC this is no big deal [no surprise: who would make a big deal out of one’s own mistakes]. I happen to disagree, but that is, perhaps, just me being too picky. The older procedure was to use a single ‘primary’ observer, and only fill in with ‘secondary’, ‘tertiary’, etc, observers when data for a day was missing. One can argue merits of both ways.
    The sunspot number is an obsolete measure of solar activity whose only justification is its very long historical record. A long record only has value if it has a reasonably correct ‘calibration’ in the sense that the ‘splice’ between different observers and providing institutions is correct, and we know that it is not. A wrongly calibrated series is worse than no series at all, because it leads to unjustified speculation and [at times] ‘convenient’, but wrong, conclusions.

    Manually checking after 3 to 6 months is not good enough, especially since the real-time values may go into models or schemes that attempt to predict ‘space weather’. It would seem that it would be an absolute minor thing to correct the table right now, today, or a week ago, when they know it is wrong.

    Whether or not the pores would have been counted centuries ago is a bit moot because we attempt to compensate for that with appropriate k-factors.

    An interesting question can be raised: In a matter of months we’ll be able to see both the front [SIDC] and the back of the Sun [STEREO A & B]. Should we count the spots on the backside? That would double the sunspot number. Maybe take the average of the two sides?

    As a fun aside, it has been known for a century that there are more spots on the ‘left’ [East] side of the solar disk than on the ‘right’ [West] side, http://solar.physics.montana.edu/SVECSE2008/pdf/dalla_svecse.pdf
    In fact, this results in a large number of young spots being invisible: 44% of new regions emerging in the West of the Sun go undetected.

    The BTS-crew interprets [e.g. http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1976BSRSL..45..211D ] that as proof of planetary tides causing/influencing sunspots. Go figure.

  9. Off topic. Those of us who live in Britain may need to get some warm clothes for the coming winters as it seems to be legal to vandalise and destroy our power industry

    “Power station protesters cleared”

    “Six Greenpeace activists have been cleared of causing criminal damage during a protest over coal-fired power.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/7608054.stm

    I hope that jury are the first to suffer power cuts caused by their verdict

  10. Ronald Van der Linden:
    About the issue of one spot only:
    He writes:
    This included indeed Catania Observatory, one of our main data providers. However, it is not at all the case that only Catania reported spots. If that were the case, the final outcome would have been zero indeed.
    so a single observatory reporting a single spot would not cause that spot to be counted.

    But, then he says a bit further down:
    In this instance, this choice will be simple, since only one observer put the spot in the south on August 21, while 2 did so on August 22.)
    But, here ‘in this instance’ the single, sole observer that reported a single spot in the wrong location [South] nevertheless, in spite of the first statement, caused that single spot to be counted.

    So, there are inconsistencies here. The difference in count is not so important as the slack in procedures and, perhaps, in trying to explain away a simple mistake. Nothing wrong with mistakes, if they are admitted and corrected, and that sooner rather than later.

  11. I think English might not be Mr Van der Linden’s mother tongue. It is possible that his sentence could have been better translated as “would not make a world of difference” – i say this as smoebody who reads both Flemish & Dutch. I might be wrong, though.

  12. Since June 23rd (79 days ago from today, Sept 10), even counting 1 spot in August, there has only been 4 days with spots. (see http://www.dxlc.com/solar/ ). There is lots of data out there on consecutive spotless days, what about mostly spotless streaks? ie 4 days in 79, or 1 day in 100 etc. It would be interesting to put this in a slightly different historical perspective.

  13. Dr. Leif:

    A rare moment in science ……

    My theory … and … My data … by: Dr. Ronald Van der Linden:

    “October 2006, the ‘Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel’ met for the first time in Boulder, Colorado to figure out what how the sun will behave in the future. The expertise of the SIDC was presented in this international panel by solar physicist Dr. Ronald Van der Linden.”

    http://sidc.be/news/094/welcome.html

  14. In his response, Van der Linden said, “although it is true that we now have a long period of very low sunspot number, this is not yet something that is going to change the world.”

    “Not yet…” What does that mean?

    Sounds to me like Van der Linden is saying that if very low sunspot numbers continue, then it will be something that is going to change the world.

  15. I agree with Leif and Climate Heretic, the condescending and arrogant tone, the downright rudeness, seems typical of these government ‘entitlement class’ bloodsuckers living off taxpayers, when ‘forced’ have dealings with them.

  16. Fernando Mafili (12:53:13) :
    A rare moment in science ……
    My theory … and … My data … by: Dr. Ronald Van der Linden:
    “October 2006, the ‘Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel’ met for the first time in Boulder, Colorado to figure out what how the sun will behave in the future. The expertise of the SIDC was presented in this international panel by solar physicist Dr. Ronald Van der Linden.”

    I know, I am also on that panel. I actually recommended that Van der Linden be included, because it would be good to have a representative from SIDC.

  17. Here is my gut prediction: Sometime at the end of 2008 or beginning of 2009, the sun’s cycle 24 will start but by 2013-2016 it will unexpectedly collapse and plunge us into a solar minimum that will last from 50 to 75 years, bring harsh and cold weather conditions.

    Will humanity learn something from that? I would not hold my breath.

  18. Because I am signed up to receive various emails from the SIDC

    http://sidc.be/registration/

    today I received “the Definitive International Sunspot Number on a quarterly basis, when we have received data from all the contribution observatories,” which Mr. Van der Linden mentions above.

    It is for January, February, March.

    Of 2008, though.

  19. David Gladstone (13:05:44) :
    I agree with Leif and Climate Heretic, the condescending and arrogant tone, the downright rudeness, seems typical of these government ‘entitlement class’ bloodsuckers living off taxpayers, when ‘forced’ have dealings with them.
    I’m not sure I agree with the latter part of your detailed characterization of the dietary habits of the people involved. But, the tone is typical of institutional CYA attitude.

  20. MARK (12:56:41) :

    ” james hansen gave evidence at maidstone crown court in defence of the greenpeace chimney painters.”

    I wonder what one can NOT get away with, using the Global Warming defense.

  21. “================================================
    == Aucun individu n’est parfait mais une équipe peut l’aider à le devenir ==
    =================================================
    == Perfect ben je nooit, maar je komt er dichter bij als je in team werkt ==”

    Barf!

    Loosely translated, this says, ‘No individual is perfect, but working as a team you can approach perfection.’

    Barf!

    This guy could be the bad guy in any Ayn Rand novel.

  22. Leif,

    In your reading of this, do you see an explanation of why the reported number in the ursigrams was “000” on both of those days, if in fact (and I have no reason to doubt it) “On August 21, a total of 17 stations reported spots (mostly a single spot).”

    Basil

    REPLY: Yep, I was wondering the same thing, and I was hoping Leif or someon would chime in with an answer. If I don’t get one, that will be my next SIDC query. – Anthony

  23. “REPLY: Yep, I was wondering the same thing…”

    As I understand it, the answer Leif got from SIDC and posted in last month’s thread on this topic, is that they do a manual count for the ursigrams, then for some reason use an automated process for the monthly tally.

    The automated count is a “provisional” count until the “definitive” count comes out, but as I found out today, there’s about a six month lag.

    So we can expect the “definitive” number (which will only fix the southern hemisphere non-spot; they’ve already said the actual speck or pore is to be included in the final count) about February or March.

  24. Basil (15:17:54) :
    In your reading of this, do you see an explanation of why the reported number in the ursigrams was “000″ on both of those days, if in fact (and I have no reason to doubt it) “On August 21, a total of 17 stations reported spots (mostly a single spot).”

    REPLY: Yep, I was wondering the same thing, and I was hoping Leif or someon would chime in with an answer. If I don’t get one, that will be my next SIDC query. – Anthony

    No, I don’t know why. When I asked Ronald, I got this answer [disregard the slight snottiness]:

    “Dear Leif,
    I’m sure there must be somebody out there who knows what the word ‘ESTIMATED’ means in the daily bulletins!
    Besides that, it is a puzzle to me that they all look so attentively at our messages, but do not see this line just below the monthly average:
    COOPERATING STATIONS : 65 59 59
    Now, why would we report on 65 cooperating stations and only use Catania?
    Maybe as a steady contributor to the discussions, you could set them straight on that issue? You may even direct them to this page on our website:
    http://sidc.be/aboutSIDC/index.php
    where they can get more information on how we do it. The numbers on the page are slightly out of date, but they have the general principle.”

  25. I agree with others. This looks like a report that has been made by someone thinking in one language translating it literally into English while writing it down. As such an interpretation by native English speakers may give a different angle.

    To a native English speaker it may seem to have an underlying interruption – how dare you question us.

  26. I always wondered what the difference between PISN and DISN was. And I’m resisting the urge to quip that a lot of it has flared up over nothing.

    But seriously, I really would like to see a transcript of Dr Hansen’s Maidstone Crown Court testimony. I assume it was given under oath, and under penalty of perjury.

  27. Les Francis (16:56:57) :
    This looks like a report that has been made by someone thinking in one language translating it literally into English while writing it down.
    I speak both French and Flemish Dutch [the latter Ronald’s native tongue] and I cannot think of a French or Dutch phrase that would translate literally into “this is not yet something that is going to change the world”.

  28. I think it is a big deal over nothing on both sides. Whether the sun is completely spotless or has tiny specks here and there is really irrelevant to my mind. It’s about the same difference between a powerful tropical storm (winds, say, at 70 mph) and a hurricane (winds at 75 mph). It is important to accurately record them, of course, and I will not dispute that. Nobody likes criticism of their work, particularly if they feel they are trying their best. Nonetheless, I think the criticisms on correction times are warranted. They certainly cannot be so busy as to take half the year at most to correct it. At the same time, this system is dependent upon human observers, and is as much open to flaws as the surface temperature stations Anthony majors on. So until we get satellites up there in positions and amounts to our liking, we will just have to go with what we’ve got. I’m sure they receive a fair amount of criticism from many quarters, and it is hard enough to do work without everybody else offering their opinions. Not that I think criticisms are unwarranted or that the opinions (if well informed) should cease. But as I said…whether the sun has small specks or is completely spotless, in practical terms, does not seem to make a big difference. I am open to correction on this point of course.

  29. Well, I was one of the folks pointing out very low sunspot count was nearly as informative as a zero count, though I do appreciate the psychological (and propaganda) value of a zero month.

    However, I’m getting to be a lot more concerned about the data collection and processing aspects. GISS and Hansen have a lot more work to do to come up with the monthly average temperature (well, okay, they come up with the wrong temperature (cheap shot)). While a few years ago the level of interest in the sunspot number was low enough that SIDC could take their sweet time, they don’t seem very interested in more timely data collecting or quality control. Very disappointing.

    I’ve been reluctant to embrace the 10.7 cm radio flux figures, in part because anyone can see a sunspot (if it’s big enough), but at least it’s easier to get a figure that can match other’s measurements without all this nonsense of deciding if a spot is worthy of being counted. The sunspot record is a lot longer than the 10.7 cm record, so spots will be important for a long time to come.

    I wonder what will happen with the two metrics if sunspots fade from view by 2015.
    My guess is that the 10.7 will still be there, weaker than if the spots were visible, stronger than a blank sun.

  30. Ric Werme (18:47:04) :
    My guess is that the 10.7 will still be there, weaker than if the spots were visible, stronger than a blank sun.
    Yes, I estimate 10.7 to be about 100 at maximum.

  31. Leif Svalgaard (17:24:39) :
    This looks like a report that has been made by someone thinking in one language translating it literally into English while writing it down.
    I speak both French and Flemish Dutch [the latter Ronald’s native tongue] and I cannot think of a French or Dutch phrase that would translate literally into “this is not yet something that is going to change the world”.

    I should add: and mean something different.

  32. Leif Svalgaard (17:24:39) :

    Les Francis (16:56:57) :
    This looks like a report that has been made by someone thinking in one language translating it literally into English while writing it down.
    I speak both French and Flemish Dutch [the latter Ronald’s native tongue] and I cannot think of a French or Dutch phrase that would translate literally into “this is not yet something that is going to change the world.”

    Lets misinterpret that last sentence in other ways.
    “this is not yet something that is going to change the world.”
    (a) This is not an issue that will change the world
    (b) This is not an issue that will change the world – yet.

    Who said English is not a complicated language?

  33. I look at it this way: If sunspot counters going back in the historically unbroken record would not have seen it, that’s 1strike.
    If the actual sunspot # is less than 1 (in this case 0.5) I am going to count our offiicial records out and start over, what’s the point of keeping records?
    Strike 2.
    With our modern detectors, we can see spots that are not visible by any other means (like X-ray and others), so we are finding ourselves primed to resolve these otherwise inconsequential specks, and there isn’t a sunspeck record going back 150 yrs, so Strike 3.
    It doesn’t count for comparison purposes for those of us who are looking back on the 154 yr record to help figure out where we currently stand.
    Maybe all the named Minimums had sunspecks, we will never know.
    51 days and counting.

  34. OK, let’s think about this for a second, and ascribe to the authors (all of them) a reasonable effort to be civil.

    The propaganda value of a month without sunspots, however tiny (?) is huge. It allows those of us who dispute the popular cry of “global warming” to beat our chests and say “see I was right all along”! But if we are truely in our political position (for it is a political position) because the science is telling us that the world is not heating but cooling, then this “VICTORY!” is hollow, and we are craving the emotional feeling of our SUPERIOR minds. The scarcasm is intended by the way.

    There are issues yet to be thrashed out. Leif says he’s not convinced the sun is the major climate driver; Pielke is pretty solid on land use change; and Anthony is hot on data gathering (surface station) problems. Once again, I’ve really simplified these folks’ positions, and to the extent I’ve not carried the details, I apologise, because there’s a lot of nuances to each persons’ argument, and I understand that.

    I’m sure there are anthropologists, rock hounds, amature science and weather folks out there just itching to get some “hands on” stuff. How about designing a small 1750 era telescope to see what was seen then? How’s about a software that collects data like the science people did three or four hundred years ago? How about that data coming back to these blogs to assist the authors in their work?

    Being a telephone guy, I tend to look at the systems. Sun spots are an indicator of the sun’s activity. Doesn’t matter if there are small spots or not, for all practical purposes, the sun is at low ebb. Some folks are saying that the temperature and magnetic flux are dropping and that is indicative of a sleeping sun. Anthony and Pielke are pointing to bad data and man-caused (yea we don’t get a free pass on this) hot spots on the earth.

    What’s the system doing? It’s cooling mostly, the sun is asleep, and things may look bad, especially if mostly well-meaning people start messing with the ecology now. Time will tell.

    Will the AGW crowd win? Probably for a time. Face facts, they have the media’s attention. Most of the western world parks its (use your favorite body part) in front of the television and listens to a talking head who usually did poorly in science. But eventually, if we are right, the tide will turn.

    I think that many contributers on this site have a glimpse of what is actually happening, I don’t think any of us have the true picture yet. Our job is to chip at consensus thinking bit by bit, and try our best to keep from the idiocy of the fractured arguments presented by those who subscribe to an unchanging environment.

    Mike

  35. As another telephone man.

    It’s all a matter of “perception”.

    Perception is the Politicians and medias tool. Perception can mean anything with statistics and spin.

    Meanwhile nature or the ‘real universe’ does what it always has done – changes at will, and theres not a thing that humankind can do about it.

  36. Mike Bentley – I second Anthony’s “Nicely said” Good words to keep in mind! Let none of us forget we are scientists 1st & to argue this smartly from a scientific perspective, not stupidly from a political perspective, otherwise we are no better than those we disagree with.

  37. Michael J. Bentley (20:26:41) :
    How about designing a small 1750 era telescope to see what was seen then? How’s about a software that collects data like the science people did three or four hundred years ago? How about that data coming back to these blogs to assist the authors in their work?
    Although not quite 1750, Rudolf Wolf [the ‘inventor’ of the sunspot number] started his observations in 1849 and from 1855 used a 80mm f/14 Fraunhofer refractor. This instrument still exists and is being used [still, as far as I know] to count spots by a Swiss Amateur Thomas K. Friedli [at least he states in his Thesis work, 2005: “Erst 1995 mussten die Beobachtungsinstrumente im Zuge der Gesamtrenovation des Sternwartengebäudes von der Dachterrasse und aus der Kuppel entfernt werden (Friedli et al. 1998). Die möglichst tägliche Bestimmung der Wolfschen Sonnenfleckenrelativzahl am Fraunhoferschen Normalrefraktor wird seither von mir vorgenommen.”]. I have tried to get in contact with him, but to now without luck.

  38. Has anyone tried Astromart? You can easily put an ad in there for an F14 or F15 Fraunhofer and find one. A couple hundred thousand amatuer astronomers will know where to look, they collect telescopes like that just for the fun of it.

  39. What is the minimum size of a sunspot to get detected? Could there be still micro-sunspots that we are not seeing because of the limit of detection of our instruments?

  40. Mike Bryant (21:11:42) :
    Leif that is interesting news. Good luck finding Friedli.
    I’m also trying to get funding or a sponsor for a visit with Friedli. Would make an interesting TV-docu, you know: tour the old observatory, tell the story, see the instrument, rescue old records from destruction, then continue to SIDC in Brussels, finishing up at NOAA in Boulder. Something like that.

  41. Leif Svalgaard (22:40:53) :

    Mike Bryant (21:11:42) :
    Leif that is interesting news. Good luck finding Friedli.
    I’m also trying to get funding or a sponsor for a visit with Friedli. Would make an interesting TV-docu, you know: tour the old observatory, tell the story, see the instrument, rescue old records from destruction, then continue to SIDC in Brussels, finishing up at NOAA in Boulder. Something like that.

    Easy – just declare that you are investigating AGW caused by sunspot disappearance and a grant will surely find its way to you :)

  42. The following information might be of interest.

    Ronald Van der Linden is Director of the Royal Observatory of Belgium at Uccle (near Brussels) and is head of the SIDC.

    On August 21 (notice the date!) the Belgian amateur astronomer and solar observer Franky Dubois posted a short message on the Mailing List of our Belgian Dutch-language VVS (Vereniging Voor Sterrenkunde) entitled “Eindelijk zonnevlekken”, which means ‘sunspots at last’. His message begins (I translate into English):
    “I just observed, through an opening in the clouds, two small sunspots about 15 degrees from the Sun’s eastern limb.”

    Jean Meeus

  43. From Jan Janssens website:
    http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Engwelcome.html

    “10 September 08 – On Anthony Watts’s website, some comments from the SIDC were published today concerning the small sunspotgroup of 21-22 August. It is very likely that SIDC will indeed consider the small specks as a sunspotgroup and that the Wolfnumber will be on full account of the northern solar hemisphere. I fully agree with SIDC that there has been too much discussion on whether or not a sunspotgroup was visible. THE conclusion is that solar activity of the last couple of months has been the lowest of the current solar cycle transition so far.”

  44. Many scientists appear to be used to working obscurely sharing data amongst peers, I don’t think many of them are used to this level of public scrutiny of their work a site like this can generate. I get the impression that they veiw people from a site like this as like a bunch of school kids, lots of enthusiasm, but lacking in intimate knowledge of their feilds and interupting them with impertinent questions.

    It seems me to that a decrease in primary heat input to the earth will have an impact, it is just a queston of how much. If TSI varies by 0.1% over a cycle it is not an order of magnitude of difference between that and the total century long rise of temperature expressed in Kelvin. (Being generous and making it 0.6deg C over the century, then my very rough calc is about 0.2% change to the earths absolute temperature over a century.) IMHO a series of low and long TSI cycles is quite capable of majorly impacting climate.

    Granted their are a large number of internal buffers and factors that influence climate, including greenhouse gases, oceanic buffering (varied by various currents) but their seems just too many factors that we have only just begun to understand to really make any sensible predictions on what is exactly happening on earth. We are only just factoring in ENSO, but presumeably other oceans have similar albeit probably smaller cycles. (eg IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole) which really has an effect an South Eastern Australian weather even though we are as far from the Indian Ocean as London is from Warsaw.)

    How many cyclic climate systems may exist with cycles over 30-40 years, it would only take one to make our whole calculations errant given how short our accurate weather measurement is.

    (BTW as this is my first post after reading for several months, I really enjoy your blog.)

  45. Les Francis (23:07:29)
    ‘Easy – just declare that you are investigating AGW caused by sunspot disappearance and a grant will surely find its way to you :)’
    It could be REAL easy -just declare that you are investigating sunspot disappearance caused by AGW and a grant will surely find you tomarrow.

  46. Leif says,

    Although not quite 1750, Rudolf Wolf [the ‘inventor’ of the sunspot number] started his observations in 1849 and from 1855 used a 80mm f/14 Fraunhofer refractor. This instrument still exists and is being used [still, as far as I know] to count spots by a Swiss Amateur Thomas K. Friedli.

    For the layman, could you give a comparison between this historical equipment used to view sunspots in the past to the equipment used at the Catania Observatory in Italy. Is it likely that the recent sun speck could have been seen through an 80mm refractor, my view is NO.

  47. Going back further in time, what were the designs of these earlier telescopes and could they have seen this sun speck, I think not, better equipment = more sun specks/spots.

  48. Leif Svalgaard (23:21:14) :

    “From Jan Janssens website:
    http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Engwelcome.html

    “”…there has been too much discussion on whether or not a sunspotgroup was visible. THE conclusion is that solar activity of the last couple of months has been the lowest of the current solar cycle transition so far.””

    The current system of international observation stations and warning centers was NEVER intended as a system to provide clues to climate.

    The intended “operational” customers for this information are electric grid operators, satellite operators, NASA, the military, etc.

    Any study of sun-climate relationships will have to “piggy-back” on systems intended for other purposes.

    Of more interest in this regard, I think, is whether the August speck or pore had a Cycle 23 magnetic signature (one of the “1 in 30” Leif mentioned last month), or a Cycle 24 signature (similar to those among the 1st 20 sunspot groups of the last 3 cycles to appear in low latitudes, according to Janssens).

    We’ve seen over the past few months, Cycle 24 magnetic regions which fail to produce a spot then fade away completely within a day or two.

    Cycle 23 meanwhile still managed to produce the occasional spot.

    Was August a case of slightly stronger Cycle 24 activity, or slightly weaker Cycle 23 activity?

  49. It’s a new world we live in.

    Perhaps the tone of the response is patronizing and condesending, but I suspect that any established scientist would find it uncomfortable to suddenly find his work placed under the microscope of hordes of laymen. Their rather cloistered world is rapidly diminishing in size. My other reaction to the SIDC response is that it appears to have more transparency than one might expect from another scientist such as Mann might exhibit towards Climate Audit and Steve McIntyre.

  50. Rob (03:06:50) :
    For the layman, could you give a comparison between this historical equipment used to view sunspots in the past to the equipment used at the Catania Observatory in Italy. Is it likely that the recent sun speck could have been seen through an 80mm refractor, my view is NO.
    You can see the instruments here at http://www.ct.astro.it/sun/
    It is much better than the old 80mm refractor, but as I have said repeatedly this shouldn’t matter because each observer has his own ‘k-factor’ that compensates for that.

    BTW, right now Catania is seeing a pair of tiny spots at 7 degree North latitude (these are old cycle 23 spots): http://www.ct.astro.it/sun/draw.jpg
    I don’t think NOAA will assign a region number to these spots unless the region grows in size.

  51. John-X (06:01:52) :
    Was August a case of slightly stronger Cycle 24 activity, or slightly weaker Cycle 23 activity?
    In spite of its somewhat low latitude (15 degrees) the magnetic signature was a cycle 24, so I’ll go with that, although we won’t know for sure.

    Leon Brozyna (06:05:29) :
    My other reaction to the SIDC response is that it appears to have more transparency than one might expect from another scientist such as Mann
    I’ll agree with that. SIDC at least responded, albeit somewhat reluctantly.

  52. You don’t need to get an old telescope. For an 80 mm refractor, the resolution is approximately 1.4 arcsecond –
    theta (resolution in arcsecs)
    lambda (light frequency, assume yellow light 550 nm)
    D (diameter of lens) 80 mm

    theta = 2.1 x 10^5 x lambda / D

    The sun’s “diameter” is around 32 arc minutes, or 1920 arcsecs. Venus (appearing on the sun) is approximately 60 arcseconds. A big sunspot group can be up to 180 arcsecs…

    Leif can probably talk more as to the “average” size of minimal diameter sunspecs (as well as my calculation) but I’m guessing that such a sunspot (if the drawing is representative of what actually was seen) could have been observed. I just did a quick measurement using the drawing (and it was crude) and the sunspeck as indicated in the drawing is about 1-2 arcsecs, which matches the .25 mm measurement indicated.

    Now refractors do have some aberation, but the f14 should have minimized that. Also, I don’t believe the optics of the last century would that horrible. I’m betting they were good and handcrafted…

  53. OT: Trying to remove the oceanic oscillation noise by using the mid points of the warming periods as the starting point of each cycle, I figured that the TSI increase of 0.15C could have accounted for 41% of the 1930-1990 warming. I graphed it and included some numbers.

    Any thoughts?

    John M Reynolds

  54. Brendan (08:25:11) :
    don’t believe the optics of the last century would that horrible. I’m betting they were good and handcrafted…
    Fraunhofer was one the greatest telescope makers of all times. The problem is not the optics, but the procedure. How to count spots? Look at this image [from 2004] http://www.leif.org/research/sunspot.png and count how many spots there are. Post the count back here. Other commenters count too, please.

  55. Any thoughts?

    For what it’s worth, awhile back I did the simple comparison of change in TSI vs. change in temperature (but I was forced to use surface temperature measurements) in degrees Kelvin, did a division and wound up with 43% (IIRC).

    But I was informed this didn’t have effect on a 1-1 basis by those who know much better about the subject than I do.

    I still don’t see why every one of the Big Six oceanic-atmospheric multidecadal cycles going from cold to warm phase couldn’t have raised temperatures a measly 0.3 to 0.4°C. No, I can’t establish a causal connection, but I point out the correlation.

  56. Brendan (08:25:11) :

    You don’t need to get an old telescope. For an 80 mm refractor, the resolution is approximately 1.4 arcsecond –
    theta (resolution in arcsecs)
    lambda (light frequency, assume yellow light 550 nm)
    D (diameter of lens) 80 mm

    theta = 2.1 x 10^5 x lambda / D

    These are theoretical numbers for diffraction I think. In real life, optical quality also counts. Compare cheap achromatic vs. expensive apochromatic refractors. But above all the “seeing” counts much more than anything else for faint/small spots. Seeing is a term used to express the amount of turbulence in the air, it varies a lot from place to place and from time to time. With bad seeing it is as if you are looking at the sky from the bottom of a swimming pool.

    In the old days they used achromats with long focal lengths (to compensate for colour abberations). Long focal lengths (higher magnification) are more sensitive to poor seeing than shorter focal lengths.

    Many factors contribute to observation quality.

  57. Carsten Arnholm, Norway (09:58:10) :
    But above all the “seeing” counts much more than anything else for faint/small spots. Seeing is a term used to express the amount of turbulence in the air, it varies a lot from place to place and from time to time. With bad seeing it is as if you are looking at the sky from the bottom of a swimming pool.

    Catania [on top of Mt. Etna at 10,000 feet] has superb seeing [that was why it was put there]. Carsten, how many spots do you count?
    Others, come on now, submit your counts.

  58. Thanks Evan

    In case it was not apparent, I used HadCRUT anomoly data up to 2007. I should say that my ‘model’ makes some hefty assumptions like the 0.14 warming from 1870-1930 continued regardless of what caused it. The feedbacks present at -0.5 C will still be present at the same ratio when the temp anomoly hits 1.0 C. As well the level of volcanic activity would remain about the same.

    (Note: I am not trying to predict that a volcano will erupt in 2051 and 2111 with the same magnitude and effect as Mount Pintabo.)

    The straight red line assumes the rate of temperature increase will continue to be 0.365 C every 60 years while the lower straight green line assumes we will return to the ‘historic’ 0.14 C every 60 years for temperature increase.

    John M Reynolds

  59. Leif Svalgaard (10:05:37) :

    Catania [on top of Mt. Etna at 10,000 feet] has superb seeing [that was why it was put there]. Carsten, how many spots do you count?

    That is a highly magnified and highly processed picture (probably a stack of many single frames) taken with a for me uknown size telescope and camera pixel size (all very important for resolution in good seeing), far different from a visual observation through small telescopes. I don’t know how to set my k-factor for that. So frankly I do not know if a sensible answer can be given to that question. I presume that is your point? What is the field of view btw?

    I am not a trained sunspot observer, but I think there are some rules to having a well defined umbra/penumbra. There is one (?) big spot that might qualify and several that don’t have complete penumbrae (if that is the correct term). Then there may be smaller “pores”, right?

    Depending on the factors mentioned I guess you can arrive at many different answers, but I am guessing that this is such a huge magnification and complex proessing that the adjustment factor reduces it to a single sunspot in one group, i.e. wolf number k*11, where k is unknoiwn :-)

    Btw., in 2004 I made an observation of a sunspot group with several different telescopes and focal lengths:
    http://arnholm.org/astro/sun/sunspot649/index.html

    How many spots do you see there, and why?

  60. This just in:
    :Issued: 2008 Sep 11 1204 UTC
    :Product: documentation at http://www.sidc.be/products/quieta
    #——————————————————————–#
    # From the SIDC (RWC-Belgium): “ALL QUIET” ALERT #
    END OF ALL QUIET ALERT …………………. The SIDC – RWC Belgium
    expects solar or geomagnetic activity to increase. This may end quiet Space Weather conditions.

  61. Carsten Arnholm, Norway (10:52:50) :
    That is a highly magnified and highly processed picture (probably a stack of many single frames) taken with a for me uknown size telescope and camera pixel size (all very important for resolution in good seeing), far different from a visual observation through small telescopes.
    It is a single picture taken with an ‘Astrophysics’ 130 mm EDF f/6 refractor [by Friedli, BTW].

    Btw., in 2004 I made an observation of a sunspot group with several different telescopes and focal lengths:
    http://arnholm.org/astro/sun/sunspot649/index.html
    How many spots do you see there, and why?

    I count 8 big spots [some with ‘lightbridges’], 12 medium spots and 20 small spots, on the picture labeled ‘C8_prime_focus.jpg’

    I don’t know how to set my k-factor for that.
    The k-factor is not to be set by you, you just count the best you can, then analysis afterwards can establish what k should be. I don’t know what the field of view was.

    So what is your count? Other than 1.

  62. mcates (09:29:15) :
    After changing my mind more times than there are spots… I decided on 6.

    Carsten Arnholm, Norway (10:52:50) :
    but I am guessing that this is such a huge magnification and complex proessing that the adjustment factor reduces it to a single sunspot in one group, i.e. wolf number k*11, where k is unknown one thus.

    It seems that nobody else wants to bite. So here is my take:
    Here are the Mount Wilson Drawing for that sunspot group. Keep in mind that the drawing is made by projecting the solar image and is therefore mirrored:
    ftp://howard.astro.ucla.edu/pub/obs/drawings/2004/dr040619.jpg
    The observers had lumped this group in with another group [just to the left of it] and designated the location of the group by two lines marked S10 and E15. NOAA also had this as one group [number 10635]. Below [to the right separated from the large spots by a dashed line] is another group of small spots marked by S15, E23. Looking at the magnetic polarities (the Vs and Rs) it looks to me like three groups.
    Here is the Catania drawing. they had lumbed all of those spots into one group designated ‘3’:
    ftp://ftp.ct.astro.it/Sole02/2004/Draw04/2004_06_June/OAC_D_20040619_060500.jpg
    The total number of spots is large. I count 63 spots for the whole of ‘3’. Catania counts 59 [see the table at upper right]. For the part of the group that I showed at http://www.leif.org/research/sunspot.png I count 21 spots on Catania’s drawing and 32 spots on the Mt. Wilson drawing. Clearly Catania and Mt. Wilson have large instruments with superb seeing so their ‘k-values’ would be less than one, perhaps 0.5 or less.
    SIDC reports for that day [2004, June 19] a southern sunspot count of 51.
    So, you see, this is a tricky business, and everything depends on how you weight the different observers via their k-factors. Today SIDC has an elaborate procedure for that. 200 years ago it was much harder to gauge the k-values with far fewer and often non-overlapping observations, and they have large errors. Bottom line: the sunspot series is very uncertain going back in time.

    BTW, SOHO MDI is not seeing the Catania spots right now.

  63. Long focal lengths (higher magnification) are more sensitive to poor seeing than shorter focal lengths.

    Wrong, focal length has nothing to do with it. Higher magnification is more sensitive to poor seeing. A longer focal length is easier to focus.
    When counting sunspots, there are some simple rules observers use. The whole sun has be in the field of view. With gives a magnification of 60 to 80x.
    So if you have a telescope with a long focal length you have to use an eyepiece that gives you an small magnification.

  64. My personal sunspot count for that day was 85, 3 groups 55 spots. 2 groups where visible to the naked eye (with filter off course).

  65. Jef (11:53:01) :
    When counting sunspots, there are some simple rules observers use. The whole sun has be in the field of view. With gives a magnification of 60 to 80x.
    So if you have a telescope with a long focal length you have to use an eyepiece that gives you an small magnification.

    The count is usually done on a projected image, like this:

  66. Jef (12:07:42) :
    My personal sunspot count for that day was 85, 3 groups 55 spots. 2 groups where visible to the naked eye (with filter off course).
    Sounds like you are doing this regularly. Any statistics? Plots to share? Would love to see them.

  67. Leif Svalgaard (11:36:36) :

    So what is your count? Other than 1.

    I did a small excercise, before reading your post (11:44:21) and made some notes:

    Well now I am biased, because I will use your terms only guessing their definitions. For the Catania image you provided, if it was taken in prime focus, the focal length becomes 780 mm, slightly longer than my C8 0.3x focal reducer example. The details of that image tells me it must have been taken with a small pixel camera and the image extensively cropped, since the spot appears so large. But maybe it is instead more likely that a barlow lens was used, but not mentioned, as the resolution is very fine. So maybe the focal length is 1560mm or even 2340mm. I thought that was important for me to make even a biased guess (assuming it to be compared with some kind of visual observation).

    I still think there is 1 major spot there, but if we try to elaborate using big and medium spots

    1 big, 8 medium/small

    Counting spots in my own images of the August 2004 spot at different magnifications:

    1 400mm refractor /w 0.6 reducer
    3 groups
    group 1: 5 big, 4 medium
    group 2: 2 medium
    group 3: 1 medium

    2 400mm refractor prime focus (star diagonal)
    4 groups
    group 1: 5 big, 4 medium
    group 2: 2 medium
    group 2: 1 medium
    group 3: 1 small

    3 400mm refractor 2x Meade barlow (star diagonal)
    1 group: 7 big, 10 medium

    4 400mm refractor 3x Televue barlow (star diagonal)
    1 group: 7 big, 11 medium

    5 C8 0.3x Meade focal reducer
    1 group: 8 big, 13 medium

    6 C8 prime focus
    1 group: 8 big, 16 medium

    7 C8 2x Meade barlow
    8 C8 3x Televue barlow
    The sunspot group is cropped, but at this magnification it becomes difficult to know what big, medium and small means

    As you can see I don’t even agree with myself if I switch equipment and look at the same spot. Now that I have read your other post I can see I am off by a factor of 60 compared to you. Clearly I have no training in this.

    I can agree that old observations were tricky and had large errors. But I wonder if they actually had less variability in one sense: Most observed visually. Today the equipment varies enourmosly. So I would not count out the possibility that the uncertainty of todays observation is is just as large, especially if someone like me took part :-)

  68. Jef (11:53:01) :

    Long focal lengths (higher magnification) are more sensitive to poor seeing than shorter focal lengths.

    Wrong, focal length has nothing to do with it. Higher magnification is more sensitive to poor seeing.

    I apologise for using the word magnification here, because I was referring to an eyepiece-less telescope, using instead a camera in prime focus. Then there is no magnification defined. A camera pixel extends a certain field of view, which gets smaller as the focal length increases. So with that clarification, the statement still holds.

    A longer focal length is easier to focus.

    Not really. Short focal length are very critical to focus, that is true, the focus range is very short and critical. A long focal length telescope is also very difficult to focus, but for a different reason: the focus range is longer, but the sweet spot is much harder to find. If you have tried with a 12m focal length and a webcam in prime focus you know that is true (I have, see my highest magnification sunspot image referred to in the earlier post).

    When counting sunspots, there are some simple rules observers use. The whole sun has be in the field of view. With gives a magnification of 60 to 80x.
    So if you have a telescope with a long focal length you have to use an eyepiece that gives you an small magnification.

    Leif’s Catania image violates those simple rules…. but it is interesting because you imply that sunspot observations must be done visually, and not with a camera. Somehow visual and camera observations work differently.

  69. Carsten Arnholm, Norway (12:56:09) :
    interesting because you imply that sunspot observations must be done visually, and not with a camera. Somehow visual and camera observations work differently.
    Yes, sunspot counts are visual. Sunspot areas are done photographically.

  70. I noticed that solar magnetic properties have gone a bit negative which could create a connection between the Sun’s magnetic field and the Earth’s magnetic field, letting in a bit of a hit from cosmic rays. The cosmic ray station unit at Finland http://cosmicrays.oulu.fi/ seems to be picking up on that hit.

    The Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, located 120 km north of the Arctic Circle in Finland, is an independent department of the University of Oulu. The measured change in cosmic rays right now is higher than I have seen it go since I began daily monitoring of the web site.

  71. Pamela Gray (16:05:08) :
    I noticed that solar magnetic properties have gone a bit negative which could create a connection between the Sun’s magnetic field and the Earth’s magnetic field, letting in a bit of a hit from cosmic rays.
    The cosmic rays [from the Galaxy, not the rare ones from the Sun] are not influenced by the connection between the Sun’s and the Earth’s magnetic fields, but only by the shape and strength of the Sun’s field.

    The cosmic ray station unit at Oulu in Finland seems to be picking up on that hit.
    Oulu and all the other stations show a cosmic rays flux at this solar minimum that is the same as it was on all previous minima where we have good data back to 1952. There is a very slight variation in the minimum values, which every second minimum being a little bit higher than the intervening minima, so 2008, 1986, 1964 have the same flux, slightly higher than 1996, 1976, and 1954. This small difference is well-understood having to do with the polarities of the general solar field. So, in the long run there has been no increase in the cosmic rays flux since [at least 1952]. What is a bit different is that the current minimum has lasted so long.

    [snip] per request of poster – Anne

  72. Leif, you are such as encyclopaedia. Thanks for the continued instruction. Your comment about the minimum lasting so long reminds me of what happens to a boiling kettle of water if left on a steady heat too long. While the source of heat doesn’t change, the kettle certainly does.

  73. Leif Svalgaard: Glad to see you’re still keeping an eye this thread.

    Off topic: I just threw up a post about the GISS Model E Climate Simulations, and one of the three simulations I discussed was the Model E solar forcing response. That discussion starts just before Figure 10 here.

    http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2008/09/giss-model-e-climate-simulations.html

    As you might recall from a post at ClimateAudit back in May, GISS uses the Lean (2000) TSI reconstruction for their Model E GCM. But there’s also another “oddity.” The output of the model seems to ramp up and reach its upper range two decades before the Lean et al TSI. Just wanted to let know because I thought you might find that point interesting. I also wanted to let you know I used data from your site to illustrate the differences between the Lean et al (2000) TSI and the current consensus about it (your “Leif” TSI data). I cited your site as the source and linked to it, of course, and I also recommended a comment you made on the ClimateAudit thread as further reading on the current thoughts about solar background.

    If you have the time, take a look. If you would prefer I not use you or your data as reference, please let me know. Comments are always welcome, here or there.

    Thanks.

  74. Leif Svalgaard (07:06:37) :
    BTW, right now Catania is seeing a pair of tiny spots at 7 degree North latitude (these are old cycle 23 spots): http://www.ct.astro.it/sun/draw.jpg
    I don’t think NOAA will assign a region number to these spots unless the region grows in size.

    Well, I guessed wrong:
    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/forecasts/SRS/0912SRS.txt:

    I. Regions with Sunspots. Locations Valid at 11/2400Z
    Nmbr Location Lo Area Z LL NN Mag Type
    1001 N06E14 179 0020 Bxo 03 02 Beta

    Please welcome cycle 23 region 11001.

    REPLY: The MDI hardly shows it at all. – Anthony
    http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/mdi_igr/1024/latest.html

  75. Bob Tisdale (17:29:59) :
    I just threw up a post about the GISS Model E Climate Simulations, and one of the three simulations I discussed was the Model E solar forcing response. […] GISS uses the Lean (2000) TSI reconstruction for their Model E GCM.
    […]
    GISS acknowledges the use of the Lean et al data and its problems in their report “Climate simulations for 1880–2003 with GISS modelE”. They state, “Lean et al. (2002) call into question the long-term solar irradiance changes, such as those of Lean (2000), which have been used in many climate model studies including our present simulations. The basis for questioning the previously inferred long-term changes is the realization that secular increases in cosmogenic and geomagnetic proxies of solar activity do not necessarily imply equivalent secular trends of solar irradiance.” Following that, they go on to explain their reasoning for their continued use of the erroneous TSI data set.

    I find their explanation disingenuous, because since it is obviously true that “secular increases in cosmogenic and geomagnetic proxies of solar activity do not necessarily imply equivalent secular trends of solar irradiance”, the point is that those changes in the proxies didn’t happen in the first place.
    But, if use of wrong data helps the model, I can see why one might want to ignore that problem.

    And you are welcome to use TSI-Leif. You may enjoy a seminar I gave recently at Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory on this: http://www.leif.org/research/Seminar-LMSAL.pdf

  76. > Nmbr Location Lo Area Z LL NN Mag Type
    > 1001 N06E14 179 0020 Bxo 03 02 Beta

    > Please welcome cycle 23 region 11001.

    Ah, what’s old is new again. Live long and prosper.
    11001 or 1001, whichever you are. :-)

    Umm, I think I saw it on a SOHO image earlier, but not now. The magnetogram is looking lame too. So much for prosper. Alas poor sunspeck, I hardly knew ye.

  77. Leif Svalgaard (17:40:36) :
    Please welcome cycle 23 region 11001.
    REPLY: The MDI hardly shows it at all. – Anthony
    http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/mdi_igr/1024/l

    I would say not at all, And Mt. Wilson neither:
    http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~obs/intro.html
    Kitt Peak NSO had it:
    http://solis.nso.edu/vsm_fulldisk.html

    The region died sometime between 17h and 20h UT. One may wonder why this Tiny Tim was elevated to an ‘active region’. Perhaps NOAA is getting nervous now after all the brouhaha and don’t want to be accused of ‘missing’ spots…
    Anyway, it is now gone.

    REPLY: Well if it shows up as a spot at SIDC, I may book a flight to Belgium. – Anthony

  78. Leif: Thanks for taking a look and thanks for the okay on the data. It’s funny. I let that post sit for a week to see if anything else ocurred to me. Of course the thought waited until after I posted. I’ll be adding the following update tomorrow, early A.M.

    Thanks for the seminar link as well. I’ll take a look tomorrow.

    Regards.

    ##

    UPDATE 1

    As an afterthought, I revised the comparative graph of solar irradiance forcing and the Model E output of global temperature response to solar irradiance (originally shown as Figure 14) so that the slopes of the increases in both data correlated as best I could from 1880 to 1940. Refer to Figure 18. I used 4th-order poly trends as reference during the adjustments.


    Figure 18

    That threw the correlation for the years after 1940 off significantly. Now it seems to display the same inconsistency as the volcanic aerosol comparison. What would cause that?


    Figure 19

    ##

  79. Bob Tisdale (18:57:35) :
    Refer to Figure 18. I used 4th-order poly trends as reference during the adjustments.
    I wonder why you also use the wrong data, or even care.

    But we getting off topic, so email me if you have further thoughts on this.

  80. http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/latest/DSD.txt

    NOAA gave it a go.
    2008 09 11 67 12 20 1 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

    So, we are still having these SC23 bubbles popping up. Why won’t this cycle give it up, the $64k question.

    REPLY: Amazing, Leif didn’t think this would even merit a region, and here we have a sunspot count! – Anthony

  81. 2008 09 11 67 12 20 1 -999 A0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

    NOAA gave it a go.
    Why won’t SC23 give it up, the $64k question.
    Still bubbling along 12 years later.

  82. Leif –
    I had assumed that the issue was not how many sunspot counts occured when there was a complicated sunspot – you are probably quite correct in stating that there would be differences of opinion in such a case. My assumption is whether one small sunspeck would be seen by a dedicated observer. In either case, my approach shows you don’t need the old telescope to check if such a sunspeck is indeed observable. It is.

    The correct way to approach this problem is not to ask to examine a big ol’ messy sunspot, but to look at how small sunspot counts and sizes of one or two were recorded in early days. Since I don’t have access to that sort of information, I would hope that is something you could (easily) dig up. As a problem of statistics, the best way would be to observe over the last century (back to the time of the 80 mm f/14) what the observed mimimal sunspot size was, and the correlation among many observers worldwide at many stations. This would give you an estimate of what the probability was of actually missing it.

    If you have such a database, I would be happy to attempt to calculate the probability.

  83. Looking at the Solar Cycle 24 site, and examing the trend charts there.

    http://www.solarcycle24.com/
    Last 3 months sunspot and Planetary A index graphic.
    06/16 to 06/22 , 07/19 to 07/21 and 09/11 are the sunspot activiites.
    Now look at the Last 3 months solar wind. Those 3 sunspot activites all occured on the downslope of solar wind velocities, including our 08/21 sunspeck.
    Probably just me thinking this is something significant, but is this an expected behavior?
    The image in my mind is the solar wind dies down, and up pops a remnant bubble, if one is available.


  84. Leif Svalgaard (17:40:36) :

    Leif Svalgaard (07:06:37) :
    BTW, right now Catania is seeing a pair of tiny spots at 7 degree North latitude (these are old cycle 23 spots): http://www.ct.astro.it/sun/draw.jpg
    I don’t think NOAA will assign a region number to these spots unless the region grows in size.

    Well, I guessed wrong:
    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/forecasts/SRS/0912SRS.txt:

    I. Regions with Sunspots. Locations Valid at 11/2400Z
    Nmbr Location Lo Area Z LL NN Mag Type
    1001 N06E14 179 0020 Bxo 03 02 Beta

    Please welcome cycle 23 region 11001.

    REPLY: The MDI hardly shows it at all. – Anthony
    http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime/mdi_igr/1024/latest.html

    As this is a cycle 23 spot it obviously contributes to pushing the solar minimum further into the future (compared to before this spot was seen). By how much I wonder?

  85. ‘As this is a cycle 23 spot it obviously contributes to pushing the solar minimum further into the future (compared to before this spot was seen). By how much I wonder?’

    Given the rarity of the sunspecks and thier tendency to vanish in a hurry, it would be safe to say that the end of this lull is nowhere in sight.

  86. Me thinks wishful thinking and bad predictions are causing sun watchers to change the way they see things. If these prediction folks can find even the tiniest of sunspots from old cycle 23, they can justify numbering tiny cycle 24 spots, thus hopefully in their minds leading to statements such as this, “Cycle 24 has begun on time, just as we predicted.”

    It is the old saw about seeing through rose colored glasses. You don’t even know you have them on. We all wear them and they color what we see, hear, feel, and think. No one is immune to the influence of their rose colored glasses. That is why people say that teachers are to blame, mothers are to blame, fathers are to blame, the government is to blame, Hansen is to blame, CO2 is to blame, oil companies are to blame, greenies are to blame, left wing loonies are to blame, right wing neocons are to blame, or this: there is oil under ground everywhere we just haven’t found it yet, Bush caused our current mess, congress caused our current mess, the icecap is melting, my fanny is cold…

    WAIT!!! My fanny IS cold!

  87. Brendan (22:16:58) :
    The correct way to approach this problem is not to ask to examine a big ol’ messy sunspot, but to look at how small sunspot counts and sizes of one or two were recorded in early days.

    Until Wolfer argued that the smallest spots [pores] should be counted, they were deliberately not counted at all. So early systematic data on such small spots do not exist.

    Robert Bateman (23:20:43) :
    The image in my mind is the solar wind dies down, and up pops a remnant bubble, if one is available.
    No, it is not that simple and direct.

  88. The image in my mind is the solar wind dies down, and up pops a remnant bubble, if one is available.
    ‘No, it is not that simple and direct.’

    Do you have an alternate description of why these spots(sunspecks) appear on the downslope of the solar winds ( from the co-rotatiing coronal hole or otherwise) ?
    I don’t have the data to look back further than the 3 month graphs to check when this started, or if it always works like that.

  89. I’m thinking hard about another natural occurence that behaves the same way as these sunspecks. It’s easy to imagine a normal sunspot lasting a lot longer than mere hours if there’s a whole stream of energy behind it Like a flood, they slowly build, reach a peak, subside and finally disappear. But what of these poor sunspecks, here at lunch and gone by dinner. Does that co-rotating coronal hole show any sign of differential rotation? i.e. – is it being slowly dragged about faster at the center than the north & south terminations?

  90. Anthony,

    Isn’t this Ronald Van der Linden, the known warmist, the one who went to Theordore Landscheidt home in 2004 and asked his widow to give him Theo’s documents and studies? Now they are lost for future generations of astrophysicists.

  91. Eduardo (21:37:50) :
    Theodore Landscheidt home in 2004 and asked his widow to give him Theo’s documents and studies? Now they are lost for future generations of astrophysicists.
    And good riddance. They were junk anyway.

    Robert Bateman (18:38:19) :
    graphs to check when this started, or if it always works like that.
    First, from a few cases you cannot conclude anything general. Second, if anything, the mechanism works the reverse: A sunspot pooping up in the middle of a coronal hole will cause the hole to die and the solar wind to calm, rather than the declining solar wind causing the spot to pop up. But this only works with large spots, not with the Tiny Tims; they have no real effect on anything.

  92. Robert Bateman (20:04:08) :
    Does that co-rotating coronal hole show any sign of differential rotation? i.e. – is it being slowly dragged about faster at the center than the north & south terminations?
    Coronal holes show almost rigid rotation. There is some shearing off at the pole-most extremes, but the hole quickly reforms in the same place such as to maintain the rigid [non-differential] rotation.

  93. A sunspot pooping up in the middle of a coronal hole

    Is there a NASA mission which will clean that up? Solar Pooper Scooper I?

  94. ‘First, from a few cases you cannot conclude anything general. Second, if anything, the mechanism works the reverse: A sunspot pooping up in the middle of a coronal hole will cause the hole to die and the solar wind to calm, rather than the declining solar wind causing the spot to pop up. But this only works with large spots, not with the Tiny Tims; they have no real effect on anything.’

    I could easily conclude that the last 4 cases are what is going on right now.
    And if sunspots are caused by a winding and the coronal hole just keeps reforming there isn’t a whole lot of magnetic winding going on.
    That’s all we have right now, Tiny Tims (I like that!) popping up on the wane of cyclic solar winds and as persistent equatorial coronal hole. Why? I believe if we understood why that is all that is going on right now we would also then understand why the Sun is going into this sleep state.
    What’s the point?
    If we don’t know why the Sun goes into these lulls, then all we have are the models that can only predict cycles that don’t end in sleep states.
    Let me ask you a simple question: Do you find this lull to be interesting or not?

  95. Jeff Alberts (07:59:33) :
    Is there a NASA mission which will clean that up? Solar Pooper Scooper I?
    Funding is a bit tight right now, and NASA doesn’t really have good access to space anymore, but maybe the Russians will help.

  96. Pingback: This is what passes for a sunspot these days « Watts Up With That?

  97. Robert Bateman (08:01:33) :
    Let me ask you a simple question: Do you find this lull to be interesting or not?
    I find it very interesting because it shows us a side of the Sun that we have not seen for some time and give us the ability to ‘calibrate’ both instruments and theories, but in the long run, this is nothing special. There was a similar lull ~100 years ago, and even deeper ones further back, although the actual ‘depth’ of the earlier lulls may be overestimated.

  98. evanjones (10:07:19) :
    And good riddance. They were junk anyway.
    You mean it’s true?

    No, I haven’t heard of any such thing, but even if it were true, it would not be such a devastating loss.

    REPLY: It’s the Barycentric Burglary caper. – Anthony

  99. Funding is a bit tight right now, and NASA doesn’t really have good access to space anymore, but maybe the Russians will help.

    Da, comrade. Ve vill be cleaning of de poop.

  100. By the numbers, this looks like 100 yrs ago, but there’s nothing about the Sun right now that says this is as low as it goes. The examination of what passes for spots is strike 1, the phenomena seen on the ground is strike 2, and strike 3 remains to be pitched.
    I’ll get back to you all when I can get some previous graphs to see when the sunpots/specks started ocurring on the ebb of these intermittent solar winds.
    It smacks of a process, too consistent to be ignored from my digging point of view.

  101. Anthony,

    The SIDC has just published some clarifications on how they calculate the Wolfnumber. See http://sidc.oma.be/news/106/sunspotnumberclarified.pdf

    For our annual gathering of the Belgian Solar Section on 08 Nov 08, we’ll have a SIDC solar physicist (Dr. Petra Van Lommel) giving a 30-45 min talk on “Everything you wanted to know about the Wolfnumber”. We are even invited to ask questions in advance as to better respond to the audience. I’ll ask to apply the methodology on the activity of the last few months, and about the comparability with older Wolfnumbers (methodology, some of Leif’s remarks on calibration,…)

  102. Hello,
    With great respect (and I mean that), there are some serious misconceptions about the SIDC sunspot record in some of the comments here. The sunspot count is nowadays made by exactly the same observational techniques as in former years (I know, because I am one of the observers). In fact, at least one observing station is still using the very same telescope and eyepiece that it used back in 1848. There is, therefore, no question of “high-tech” detection of sunspots that formerly went undetected. The data is still collected by visual observers using mainly small telescopes of similar design and quality to those available 150+ years ago. In any case, sunspot detection does not, in practice, require particularly high-quality equipment.
    It is, however, true that modern observers count all spots, however small, whereas in the very early days, observers tended to ignore tiny pores (note that it wasn’t that they couldn’t see them, merely that they decided not to include them). This has been allowed for in subsequent counts by applying an adjustment factor (the constant is in fact 0.6). In addition, every individual observer has his own constant. This has ensured that the series of data IS entirely homeogeneous. In fact, that is precisely the enormous advantage of the International (formerly Zurich) Sunspot Number – it provides the longest continuous record of sunspot activity that we have. And before someone says “Oh, how do we know the adjustment factor is correct?”, let me gently point out that there is a virtually continuous daily photographic record going to the 1870s, so it’s easy to check whether the figures are consistent. We also have at least one long series of visual observations (that of Richard Carrington, compiled during the 1850s and 1860s) which includes detailed drawings and full positional data. It is, I’m afraid, completely incorrect to assert that the record is untrustworthy. Of course, mistakes in individual reports are bound to occur from time to time, as in any scientific endeavour, but there is absolutely no reason to think that the data produced by SIDC is in any way inconsistent, untrustworthy or is not homogeneous. Anyone interesting in reading the science on this, as opposed to internet chatter, might like to consult the short and readable introduction to Waldmeier’s authoritative monograph ‘The Sunspot Activity in the Years 1610-1960’ (Zurich, 1961).
    I hope this is of some help.

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