NASA moves the goalposts on Solar Cycle 24 again

Animation courtesy Michael Ronayne. Click for larger, slower speed animation

NASA’s David Hathaway just recently updated his solar cycle prediction and has pushed cycle 24 into the future a little more once again. Though to read his latest update on 10/03/08 at his prediction page here, you wouldn’t know it, because the page is mostly tech speak and reviews of semi relevant papers.

However, there is one graphic, the familar one above, that has been updated and tells the story best. Michael Ronayne was kind enough to provide an animation (above) that shows the march of time as far as solar cycle 24 predictions go. With the latest update (static image here) the startup of solar cycle 24 has been pushed into 2009.

This isn’t the first time NASA has moved the goalpost. Back in March I did a story on NASA moving the goal post then, and since then they’ve moved the cycle ahead twice, once in April and again now in October.

NASA isn’t the only one having to update predictions, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has also had to make several adjustments to their graphic:

Animation courtesy Michael Ronayne. Click for larger animation

And there is more change in the current thinking on sunspots. As Michael Ronayne writes:

After ignoring sunspots for two and a half years the New York Times finally ran a story and BLOG posting on the current state of the Sun.

Sunspots Are Fewest Since 1954, but Significance Is Unclear

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/science/space/03sun.html

Climate and the Spotless Sun

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/climate-and-the-spotless-sun/

Details of the recent NASA reports on Ulysses and the Spotless Sun were minimal and the Times failed to mention NASA’s report that the Sun was dimming. The Times reporter speculated on possible connections between solar activity and Earth climate but such speculation was of concern to some Times readers who made their views know in the Dot Earth BLOG. Perhaps the Times should avoid controversial phrases such as “Little Ice Age” in the future. I decided to make a post on the Dot Earth BLOG about some of the graphic records I have been collecting of past SWPC and NASA sunspots predictions. Apparently my input was not fit to print because the moderator did not allow it to be posted to Dot Earth. Attached is the text of my submission to the New York Times. I thought the posting was quite balanced and am not sure what warranted it being rejected.

As you review the SWPC and NASA predictions, note that the outer envelope for the onset of Solar Cycle 24 for the SWPC Low Prediction (http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/SC24/ssn_predict.gif) is January 2009, while the NASA prediction has been moved out to July 2009. Watch the two animations carefully and note where the changes were made in the NASA predictions.

I am writing a segment on Sunspot Predictions which will be posted in Wikipedia, at the following URL, when it is done:

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

It will be interesting to see when solar minimum actually occurs. I suspect that we will be in for a long wait. I will keep the above animations current as SWPC and NASA post their monthly updates.

Lots of scrambling going on to get in tune with the sun these days.

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Frank Ravizza

Should they rename these graphs from “prediction” to “projection”, or perhaps even, “best guess”?

Robert Bateman

And when they finally get it right as for start, they still don’t know how high it will go, and finally they don’t know when it will end.
Like a recipe in the kitchen that doesn’t quite have the key ingredient, the models are missing something.

Robert Bateman

I have watched as the 2nd graph slowly got undercut by the numbers coming in, and was wondering when they would react as the beachfront prediction house fell into the sea of noise. Sorry, NASA, we love you, but you need to rethink this whole thing.

kim

Michael Ronayne should email the entry to Andy Revkin at DotEarth. Sometimes the links get caught in a spam filter. I’ve found Andy Revkin to be a fair moderator, over there. Mike M. has a recent, telling, comment on the solar thread. Dee Norris has an entry on that thread, too.
======================================

crosspatch

“the page is mostly tech speak and reviews of semi relevant papers.”
Isn’t that what they do when they don’t have a clue about what is happening but want to convince people they are competent?
I honestly think they don’t have the foggiest notion of what the Sun is going to do or why and they are in “I gotta protect my job and my reputation” mode.
It is what it is, not what Dr. Hathaway says it will be. This just goes to show us that they don’t have it all figured out after all. Now the game is all about preservation of funding. Hmmm, maybe they can create a “solar crisis” and get a lot of federal funds to bail us out. I mean, how much does the US invest in the Sun? If we increased that investment in research maybe we could get it to do what we need it to do, right?

[…] post: NASA moves the goalposts on Solar Cycle 24 again Tags: Climate Change, earth, nasa, politics, science, solar cycle 24, solar-cycle, space Category: […]

You will enjoy this, Leif… fact, everybody reading here will (go, Dee!):
“…(there is one exception to the consensus, a Leif Somebody, but we ASCer’s…”
Stop Anthropogenic Solar Cooling Now!
http://deenorris.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/stop-anthropogenic-solar-cooling-now/

Nasa have been consitently wrong about this solar cycle.That graph looks way too steep. Looking foreward to the next ‘correction’ . Note how the peak of the graph is now considerably smaller than predicted. Deep minimum, deepest for 50 years.

[…] UPDATE (10/6/2008): For those who doubt the scientific validity of ASC, here is poof of the delayed start for Solar Cycle 24 – NASA moves the goalposts on Solar Cycle 24 again […]

Has anyone done stats on the correlations between solar-system-barycentre and solar patterns and past climate records?
In layman’s language, I have a hunch that
(1) you need to see the Sun in relation to all the planets – there is a centre of gravity to the whole system that can end up outside the Sun, and when that happens you have a lot of pull on the Sun, which is actually a good thing for generating solar irradiance and solar magnetic flux;
(2) there is a strong correlation, reasonably verifiable, with records we already have of climate patterns in recent history – say back to the Roman Warm Period;
(3) this is the prime missing link which will enable true longterm climate predictions – except that volcanoes, supernovae, and other human activities (not CO2 production) might also play in unpredictably.

@Lucy Skywalker:
See Landscheidt’s New Little Ice Age Instead of Global Warming?
http://bourabai.narod.ru/landscheidt/new-e.htm

kim

Look out Lucy, there’s a Leif on the wing.
==========================

[…] UPDATE (10/6/2008): For those who doubt the scientific validity of ASC, here is poof of the delayed start for Solar Cycle 24 – NASA moves the goalposts on Solar Cycle 24 again […]

[…] Comment on NASA moves the goalposts on Solar Cycle 24 again by The … Tags: Climate Change, global-warming, halloween, hurricanes, local-issues, picture, politics, […]

Lucy Skywalker (02:45:16) :
Has anyone done stats on the correlations between solar-system-barycentre and solar patterns and past climate records?
Image you have a rod with two identical, heavy balls that can slide along the rod [say they have a hole in them through which the rod runs]. Now, slide the balls such that they are at opposite ends of the rod. The barycenter of this system is now halfway between the balls. Now slide one of balls a bit towards the middle. That will move the barycenter. That the barycenter moves will not ‘jerk’ the other ball [the Sun] around.
See also my answer to Carsten at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/10/05/new-solar-cycle-not-packing-much-punch/

[…] Read More: wattsupwiththat.com Tags: NASA, nyt, Science, scientists, solar, Sun Related Posts […]

Steve M.

NASA/Hathaway is desperate for cycle 24 to be bigger than 23…still. I can see several examples of the sun having steep increases in activity, but not after long periods of quiet.

Bill Illis

Great animations. They are really helpful in understanding the situation.
Cycle 23 is now at least 12 years, 3 months long. It is possible that August was the bottom of the cycle but we will have to continue watching for several more months to see if the cycle 24 spots increase and continue to outnumber cycle 23 spots.
Solar cycle length theory indicates that we should move into a cooling period now given the above-normal length of this cycle (especially if it continues) but there may also be some lag (several years) before the full effects hit Earth’s climate.

mark wagner

of course, when cycle 24 does finally rev up, they will claim that it’s exactly as they predicted all along… much like they do with their precious climate models.
“Oh yes, the last decade of cooling..er…uhm…”non-warming” is well within modeled parameters as we’ve tuned…er…uhm… “improved” our modeling techniques.”

DaveM

A tad OT but hilarious!
http://www.theonion.com/content/news_briefs/man_with_food_in_beard
Climate related food stuffs?
LOL

BernardP

It’s interesting how well this graph correlates with the measured cooling trend since 2001-2002.
It’s amusing to see that there are scientists who think they can predict/project when the next upwards cycle will start. Maybe they would gain more credibility by applying their craft to something more reliable, like…hum…the stock market.

Neo

The 3 year slip of cycle 24 ought to put a distinct signature on the climate models as to the proper level of solar contribution going foreward, assuming they don’t interpret the hell out of it.

kim

Leif (05:16:49) Surely that iron butterfly wing flapping would jerk the ball, no?
Intuitively, it is tough to see that the barycenter moving doesn’t effect the sun. But then you say it does, the tidal effects, but they are so tiny as to be difficult to imagine effecting the earth. Still, might not they have some effect on the magnetic fields of the sun?
=================================================

Katherine

Some questions for Leif.
In the link Dee posted, a diagram indicates that the barycenter of the solar system can be as much as 2.2 solar radii from the sun’s center. Wouldn’t the changing barycenter of the solar system induce something akin to tides in the sun? If the barycenter is outside the sun, might it not result in something like spring tide, and perhaps more violent solar activity, than when the barycenter lies within the sun, thus neap tide and less violent activity?

Robert Bateman

12 yrs 3 mos later, tiny bubbles floating here and there, just makes it so hard to see if this is the bottom or not, the flux isn’t co-operating any better than the lack of fizz in the bubbly. Worst case #1 we simply follow the nice curve of F10.7 and that is 2010.somthing as bottom that leads or matches the sunspot bottom. Now just continue that nice arch on over and 50-75 is the next maxima worst case, so after 2015 it’s a 50-50 tossup Minimum or No Minimum.
Worst case #2 we follow that F10.7 curve into a total dead flatline. Instant Minimum, just add ice & stir.
I do know this: That F10.7 is making one heck of a pretty curve. Ain’t she a beauty!!

Richard deSousa

We are venturing into the unknown as far as our knowledge of the sun’s effect on our climate. Perhaps this is another lesson on how consensus about how sunspots don’t affect our climate will be finally demolished. Just as consensus was wrong about plate tectonics, ulcers, bacteria, etc.

AnonyMoose

“Click for larger, slower speed animation” — clicking does nothing. I don’t see a hyperlink around that first image.
Incidentally, apparently when the Sun is active the magnetic fields are large enough to measurably raise/wrinkle part of the surface.

Clark

The new “predictions” about the start of SC24 certainly aren’t predictions in the scientific sense.
If you have a model for solar cycles, you make a prediction about the next cycle and see what happens.
If the data does not match your prediction, you say your model is wrong and you go back to the drawing board. You don’t simply move your prediction forward 6 months.

jmrSudbury

FYI, UAH data for Sept is out: 2008 9 0.161
http://vortex.nsstc.uah.edu/public/msu/t2lt/tltglhmam_5.2
John M Reynolds

SteveSadlov
Ed Scott

Just the usual adjustment of NASA’s computer models to comport with Nature. The real-life story of the computer model trio: Finagle, Bugerre and Diddle.
The computer modelers continually get Ego on their face.
Nothing to see here. Move along.
BernardP (07:14:35) :
“Maybe they would gain more credibility by applying their craft to something more reliable, like…hum…the stock market.”
During the 60 Minutes segment on the market crisis, mention was made of the hiring of engineers and physicists to analyze and model market activity. The weakness in the resulting models was the inability to model human nature.
Computer modelers have a real problem with Nature.

jmrSudbury

Oh, and the DECADAL TREND has been dropping slightly.
June = 0.131
August = 0.129
September = 0.128
I did not store the data before June, so this is all I have for UAH data.
John M Reynolds

Ed Scott

Robert Bateman (08:16:41) :
With apologies to Leon Pober and Don Ho.
Tiny Bubbles (slightly modified)
Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
In the Sun (in the Sun)
Make me happy (make me happy)
Make me feel fine (make me feel fine)
Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
Make me warm all over
With a feeling that I’m gonna
Love you till the end of time
So here’s to the golden moon
And here’s to the silver sea
And mostly here’s a toast
To you and me
So here’s to the ginger lei
I give to you today
And here’s a kiss
That will not fade away

Katherine (08:11:17) :
Wouldn’t the changing barycenter of the solar system induce something akin to tides in the sun?
No, the barycenter as such would not create tides, but the planets individually. Jupiter creates a tide 0.5 millimeter high [that’s 1/50 of an inch]. the next largest tide is due to Venus at 0.45 mm, and the other planets much smaller.
kim (07:38:33) :
Intuitively, it is tough to see that the barycenter moving doesn’t effect the sun.
Maybe that is why so many people are attracted to that idea: they conflate barycenter movement with tidal effects. Tidal effects are there but minute beyond belief.

[…] the original post: Comment on NASA moves the goalposts on Solar Cycle 24 again by DaveM Tags: Climate Change, global-warming, halloween, science, solar cycle 24, solar-cycle, space, […]

Brian D

UAH this year is looking quite similar to the last minimum in 1996.

Mark

Leif,
I know that you said Lean’s TSI data is (I’m paraphrasing) out of date. Some question for you.
How were the TSI levels determined before we started measuring it? And what new proxy or method is being used that shows that the TSI only varies by about 1w/m2?
Mark

DR

@ Dee Norris
At least be content you can even mention Landscheidt’s name here. In ‘another’ blog es ist verboten.

[…] Original post: Comment on NASA moves the goalposts on Solar Cycle 24 again by … […]

Have you/anyone the Solar data from 1986 for cycles 21 to 22?

Pierre Gosselin
Diatribical Idiot

I’m in the process of working on an alaysis to help shed light on the interaction between sunspot counts and solar cycle lengths with changes in temperature anomalies. I’ll let everyone know when I have it done. I’m getting close.
In the meantime, UAH released the September anomaly – a bit higher this time around. My monthly comments/analysis are posted:
http://digitaldiatribes.wordpress.com/2008/10/06/october-2008-update-on-global-temperature-uah/

jmrsudbury
jonk

How have the planet induced tides been calculated?

John-X

Pierre Gosselin (10:55:36) :
” Fairbanks coldest in 16 years…
http://www.weather.gov/view/prodsByState.php?state=ak&prodtype=public
In Colorado (east of the Rockies) looks like a good snow Friday & Saturday.
While not at all unusual for this time of year, we always HATE snow this time of year, because it’s still warm enough that the snow is wet and HEAVY…
and there are still leaves on most of the trees
I call these early to mid-October snows “Branch Breakers”

AnonyMoose

How were the TSI levels determined before we started measuring it?

This IPCC graph has some names. Search for those and the trail should lead toward their work and more recent work.
Looks like GISS model solar forcing isn’t trying to forecast solar behavior. Their diagram shows cycle data ending around 2000, so they might not have run models using the data from recent months.

Leon Brozyna

Predictions/projections can keep being adjusted; at some point, someone’s going to have to admit that, despite all the increased understanding we now have of the sun’s workings, we just don’t know enough. If the ideas put forth by Livingston/Penn bear up, we may have to take a serious look at the assumptions that have gone into these predictions. That and make sure we have some good warm winter clothing.

Mark (09:55:34) :
How were the TSI levels determined before we started measuring it? And what new proxy or method is being used that shows that the TSI only varies by about 1w/m2?
This is a BIG topic. I’ll try. Back when Jack Eddy in the 1970s drew attention to the Maunder Minimum [MM] he also noted that it coincided with the Little Ice Age [LIA]. Abbot at the Smithsonian Institution had tried to measure the ‘solar constant’ [what we today call the TSI] during the first 50 years of the 20th century. He thought to have found that there was a solar cycle variation of TSI of 1-2 %. If during MM there were no spots that would mean that TSI would be 0.75% lower [half of the 1-2%]. Equating what goes in with what goes out, one can calculate that that would decrease the temperature by 0.75/4%=0.2%. Since the temperature of the Earth is 290K, the drop would be 0.2% of 290K=0.6K which seemed about right, so everything made sense.
When we began to measure TSI by satellite we found that the solar cycle variation was ten times smaller than what Abbot had thought. This, of course, also meant that the temperature drop would only be a tenth as well, i.e. 0.06K, much too small. Thus arose the notion that to account for the LIA there had to be a ‘background’ component of TSI that had varied such as to make up for the missing variation of the sunspot-related part. So people put that into their TSI-reconstructions. Lean in her 2000 paper assumed a background that was computed from a 15-year running average of the sunspot number. Her calibration of this came from a study of ‘sun-like’ stars that seemed to show that a third of all such stars were in a MM [because they did not vary] while the rest showed a clear 7-15 year cycle [depending on the star]. Extrapolating their activity difference between ‘normal’ and MM type activity she could estimate the difference there ought to be between MM and normal times. In addition, her case was strengthened by the confirmation by Lockwood et al. in 1999 of a claim I had made twenty years earlier that the Sun’s magnetic field had more than doubled during most of the 20th century. That doubling would also provide an increasing ‘background’ TSI.
During 2000-2008 further studies showed that the ‘sun-like’ stars were not really that. Most were more evolved than the Sun and one could really not extrapolate their activity to the sun with any confidence. The study by Lockwood et al. that showed a doubling of the sun’s ‘open magnetic flux’ was also in trouble, because I showed that the geomagnetic data used were incorrectly calibrated [so I was wrong too back in 1978] and re-analysis of the data by several groups including myself and Lockwood’s group showed that the was no doubling, that the Sun’s magnetic field now is just what it were 107 years ago. so the two pillars supporting the TSI ‘background’ have now fallen by the wayside. Furthermore, we have learned more about the distribution and form of the Sun’s magnetic field, also showing no background contribution to the TSI.
Take away the rising background, takes away the rising TSI and we are back to a simple cyclical TSI rising and falling simply with the sunspot cycle. If Livingston and Penn are correct that the sunspots will disappear [be invisible] by 2015, it is possible that there were also simply invisible during the MM. We know from cosmic rays that the Sun’s magnetic cycle was still going, so possibly one might speculate that even during the MM, TSI was behaving as today.

AnonyMoose (11:28:28) :
Looks like GISS model solar forcing isn’t trying to forecast solar behavior. Their diagram shows cycle data ending around 2000, so they might not have run models using the data from recent months.
They just use a simple extrapolation forward. Not too bad. Worse is that they use the obsolete Lean TSI backwards in time [with the pronounced rise during the first half of the 20th century]. This makes their solar forcing skewed in the sense that they implicitly can push some of the pre-1970 temp increase over on the Sun making the claim for AGW later on stronger…

jmrsudbury

I wonder if my September 2009 WAG that I made (No, it is not even a SWAG) for the month that solar cycle 24 will end up being correct. Not that it matters much anyway. Seeing as how Jupiter is 7.79 x10^8 kilometers from the sun, I doubt a couple of solar widths (diameter = 1.4 x10^6 km) shift in the barycenter will have much of an affect on anything be it tides nor the magnetic field of the sun. Jupiter is so far away, that a single solar width closer is only 1/556th of the distance.
John M Reynolds