Sun's magnetic field still in a funk during September

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

click for a larger image

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

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

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

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

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Alan S. Blue

The example I keep thinking of when you mention the step is of the internals of a relay. A relay is just a switch where the switch can be influenced by something – like an electromagnet.
If the circuit doesn’t trigger the magnet, it bumbles around in one area. As soon as it does trigger the magnet, the typical flow is altered. And remains altered until the magnet is de-triggered.
Very slight changes can be the piece that actually triggers the change. Which is where the whole business of arguing over whether TSI changes by 1-2% or 2-4% seems odd. If there’s a physical process on Earth that can ‘latch high’ or ‘latch low’, very slight changes can be the root cause.

DR

Anthony,
What is your bottom line view of this with respect to its impact on earth’s weather and climate systems? Surely you must think it affects something as this past year you’ve dedicated a lot of threads on this subject.
REPLY: I do but cannot yet quantify it. I think there is, like the “relay effect” described above in comments, something like that, but more like a “transistor effect” related to earths climate, where a small change in in input(s) control a larger current flow. – Anthony

Ed

So maybe we will get that climate change warming again if cycle 24 starts up?
No more record early snofall in Idaho?
http://www.idahostatesman.com/102/story/530075.html
Can’t wait to see what happens this winter.

Kum Dollison

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

Kum Dollison

Oops, I guess that woul be just a little over a Two Year Lag. Anyhoo . . .

Fernando

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

Fernando

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

However, it will be interesting to see if an uptick in the Ap index occurs, now that a significant SC24 spot has emerged. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until early November for SWPC to update the data set.
You can get both aa and ap in real time here:
http://www.geomag.bgs.ac.uk/on_line_gifs.html
Sometimes ap is a bit behind, but you can calculate it from aa:
ap = 0.2567 * (aa)^1.253 [R2=0.9723, for monthly means]
About the ‘step’: I do not think that is relevant [many such ‘steps’ before] and most importantly: it is likely that most of the step in ‘artificial’ in the sense that the Earth [and ap] is not a perfect proxy for solar wind conditions. If you look at solar wind conditions, e.g. as shown here: http://www.leif.org/research/Most%20Recent%20IMF,%20SW,%20and%20Solar%20Data.pdf you’ll see that nothing ‘special’ went on in October, 2005, that you can’t also see elsewhere. BTW, I’ll be updating the graphs this weekend.

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

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

What I find most interesting about the Geomagnetic Average Planetary Index graph above is what happened around October 2005. Notice the sharp drop in the magnetic index and the continuance at low levels.
The drop comes about because of a single magnetic storm the 11-12th September, 2005. Here are the ap 3-hour values for that storm:
11-09-2005 94 132 179 94 132 56 80 39 101
12-09-2005 39 32 132 67 39 80 80 132 75
Just as a single month’s temperature does not define climate change, so does a single magnetic storm not signal a change in the Sun, and should not engender any speculations as to its significance.

My keyboard again…
[…]continuance at low levels.
The drop comes about because […]

Alphajuno

In the 1933 timeframe, which was a very quiet time for number of sunspots at least (like now), the global temperatures fell. I didn’t really look for a time-lag between sunspot numbers and temperature deltas. It appeared to happen rather quickly… There are probably other factors to consider as well.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/gcag/index.jsp
There appears to be correlation between the sun’s magnetic field and number of sunspots on the . Has anyone calculated the correlation?
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/RecentIndices.txt

Fernando

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

Robert Wood

This is the astronomical equivalent of watching the grass grow, and it is completely rivetting …..
Will the solar cycle come upon us with great force, or merely mekely show an ankle and discretely disappear to the bedroom?
Will sexual metaphores become the norm within the astronomical community?
But seriously, it must surely have increased the stock of solar science, when Wall Street stock is declining.

Tim G

So, at what point will we have data that will help confirm (or refute) the theories of Svensmark?
–t

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

John F. Pittman

DR asks (actually Anthony) “”What is your bottom line view of this with respect to its impact on earth’s weather and climate systems? Surely you must think it affects something as this past year you’ve dedicated a lot of threads on this subject.””
Well as someone who has watched weather patterns, I would like to answer, not in opposition to Anthony, but as my own opinion. My daughter an I were discussing how that the clouds have come so much lower to the surface, and I mistakingly thought that it was due to climate cooling.
Thank God, I just watched the History channel’s Armegeddeon (sp)and found out that freezing on the Thames and Hudson bay and all over, was going to be due to us burning fossil fuels and global warming.
You can’t make this up!!!
I thought the cynics who predicted that IPCC climate change would mean that global warming meant freezing were, well, basically LYING. Well, bite my tongue, this is what they are proclaiming. The warmer it gets, if it doesn’t, the colder it gets, if it does, … because of CO2. Of course, they are quoting the Revelation of John. Apparently those who compare AGW to religion are correct.
Now they are doing volcanoes!!! Apparently volcanoes and CO2 are related to man’s CO2 sins. I repeat, you can’t make this up!
Snip at will!! I am to busy laughing to care. And to believe this is one of the best on cable right now. At least the SC23 SC24 cycle has something to grab your attention, and may actually pertain to observations and not belief.

AnyMouse

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

evanjones

I thought the cynics who predicted that IPCC climate change would mean that global warming meant freezing were, well, basically LYING.
It’s old hat. I’ve been hearing since the 1999 La Nina that when it gets hot, gets cold, or stays the same it’s all down to AGW.
There’s a legit theory, though, that increased CO2 (directly or indirectly) contributes to the cloud cover. But that just increases albedo and provides negative feedback and homeostasis.
It would help explain the temps over the last decade. (That plus the multidecadal cycles.)

Mike Bryant

OT… July 08 CO2 appears to be about 382 PPM here:
http://www.physorg.com/newman/gfx/news/hires/282311main_PIA11194%5B1%5D.jpg
July 08 CO2 is about 386 here:
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
I sure would like to see more of the AIRS pics month by month, at least.

Kum Dollison

Boise, Id just got it’s earliest snowfall since they started keeping records in 1898.
http://www.idahostatesman.com/102/story/530075.html

pkatt

http://pluto.space.swri.edu/IMAGE/glossary/geomagnetic_storm.html
cite=””>Recurrent storms occur most frequently in the declining phase of the solar cycle. Non-recurrent geomagnetic storms, on the other hand, occur most frequently near solar maximum. They are caused by interplanetary disturbances driven by fast coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and typically involve an encounter with both the interplanetary shock wave and the CME that drives it.
So if Im reading this right recurrent geomagnetic storms could be caused by something like the coronal hole that has visible for some time now on the suns surface and other such non recurrent storms occur when the sun spits matter into space:) But neither have much to do with sunspots??

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

Dan Lee

@John F Pittman
…”Thank God, I just watched the History channel’s Armegeddeon (sp)and found out that freezing on the Thames and Hudson bay and all over, was going to be due to us burning fossil fuels and global warming.
You can’t make this up!!!”…
That is what it sounds like when someone is losing their audience and are now just trying to remain convinced themselves. By all recent surveys, Joe Public isn’t buying it anymore, not after 20 years of predictions of imminent disaster in which nothing has happened.
Panic-induced adrenaline doesn’t stay in the system for very long. It fades, and gets replaced by feelings of vague anxiety, which last until they run across information that puts it in perspective and indicates that it was probably all nonsense to begin with.
At that point, that person is lost to the “movement”. Anxiety is replaced by relief and they can get on with their lives without that vague dread in the back of their minds all the time.
The flip side, and kind of sad, is that for such a person ANY future issues put forward by environmental groups will be met with deep suspicion, and there remain plenty of legitimate environmental concerns that have been overshadowed by all this AGW nonsense.
Most here, myself included, remain concerned about pollution and resource destruction and other environmental issues. But watching History Channel and other so-called “science” channels these days, where its all about ghosts and UFOs and monsters and Global Warming and Nostradamus and Mayan 2012 or other end of days scenarios, anything thing of real concern just gets lost in all the noise.

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

Mick

The Earth has 3/4 water on it’s surface. Salty water. Conductive water.
Anyone has a study how much is the current flow true this water,
do to Earth “swimming” in the magnetic field?
That electrical current could be correlated with heat transfer etc.
That current may have a connection with the jet streams as well.
No I don’t have any scientific credentials, so be gentle please… 🙂

Ralph B.

Several months ago on Jerry Pournelles Chaos Manor someone (I can’t recall who or the date) wrote in to pray for sunspots. I never concerned myself with them up until then, it was right up there with watching the grass grow. But my interest was piqued…I saw some graphs and the corrolation looked pretty darn good to me. Leif has pretty much put the kibosh on that (although I still am not 100% sure as to why, but his confidence and science has turned me).
I would like to pose a question…
Since the solar wind pressure is low, would not the atmosphere expand and then as the surface area grew would that in effect make a bigger radiator cooling the earth? Or is the solar wind pressure so minisule that it’s effect would be negligable? Or am I so far out to lunch that I need to return to lurking mode?

pkatt (01:32:04) :
So if Im reading this right recurrent geomagnetic storms could be caused by something like the coronal hole that has visible for some time now on the suns surface and other such non recurrent storms occur when the sun spits matter into space:) But neither have much to do with sunspots??
You are essentially correct. There is only one small addition: the decay of sunspots supply the magnetic fields that eventually help sustain coronal holes [weeks or months later].
Mick (03:40:53) :
Anyone has a study how much is the current flow true this water, do to Earth “swimming” in the magnetic field?
That electrical current could be correlated with heat transfer etc.

Changes in the magnetic field does induce electrical currents in the ocean [and in the Earth’s rocks, too], but the energy supplied in this way is typically a million times smaller than that supplied by the Sun, so not much heating to be gotten from that.
Ralph B. (05:16:01) :
Or is the solar wind pressure so minuscule that it’s effect would be negligible?
The solar wind is stopped 40,000 miles above the Earth by the Earth’s magnetic field and does not press on the atmosphere, so no measurable effect from this [although you can always find people that claim that the solar wind ‘compact’ the atmosphere or generate hurricanes, and just about anything else].

M White

Ralph B. (05:16:01) :
According to NASA “The average pressure of the solar wind has dropped more than 20% since the mid-1990s”
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/23sep_solarwind.htm
The next link might be worth a quick glance
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7092655.stm
Perhaps things will become clear in the next few years.

Ed Scott
kim

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

matt v.

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

Pamela Gray

Oregon has set some low records! These are occurring on a near daily basis so I don’t want to bore you with an every single day post. But one of these records is a new low since records began in 1890!
These data are preliminary and have not undergone final quality control by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Therefore, these data are subject to revision. Final and certified climate data can be accessed at the NCDC – http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov.
Record Report
000
SXUS76 KPDT 111801
RERPDT
RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PENDLETON OR
1100 AM PDT SAT OCT 11 2008
…NEW DAILY RECORD LOW TEMPERATURES FOR OCTOBER 11TH…
NOTE: STATIONS MARKED WITH * INDICATE THAT THE STATION REPORTS ONCE
PER DAY. FOR CONSISTENCY…THESE VALUES ARE CONSIDERED TO HAVE
OCCURRED ON THE DAY THE OBSERVATION WAS TAKEN BUT MAY HAVE ACTUALLY
OCCURRED (ESPECIALLY FOR MAX TEMPERATURE) ON THE PREVIOUS DAY.
STATION PREVIOUS NEW RECORDS
RECORD/YEAR RECORD BEGAN
*JOHN DAY(CITY), OR 23 / 1990 21 1953
MEACHAM, OR 20 / 2002 15 1948 :SINCE MID
*MITCHELL, OR 26 / 2002 21 1949
PENDLETON(ARPT), OR 33 / 1990 25 1934 :SINCE MID
*PENDLETON(CITY), OR 24 / 1890 22 1890
*PENDLETON(ES), OR 23 / 1990 18 1956
WALLA WALLA, WA 35 / 1987 33 1949 :SINCE MID

Is sunspot 1005 big enough for Livingston and Penn to get a reading on it’s spectrum?

Michael Clark

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

Leon Brozyna

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

Michael Clark (09:14:54) :
Just thought I would let everyone know there has been an abrupt rise in the cosmic rays now entering our atmosphere. Its been steady around 6550 to 6650 count for months now. In the last 48 hours were now up to around 7000 to 7050. This to me is very interesting and I would like to hear from those who know more about this event.
Michael, from another thread:
Pamela Gray (09:56:20) :
In either case, what would explain the sudden elevation of neutron particles
Pamela, here is the explanation [email exchange between me and Usoskin at Oulu]:
me: Ilya,
You have a problem with the Neutron monitor counts at Oulu. October 11 and 12.
reply:
Dear Leif,
Thank you – I know the problem. I am away now, and my student interchanged the channels – pressure uncorrected data are shown since 11/10. It will be fixed tonight.
Best regards,
Ilya
Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory (Oulu unit)

Pamela Gray

ah ha! A calibration artifact step change! Anthony, quick, look the other way!

Fernando
matt v.
John-X

The latest Stanford Wilcox Polar Field strength graph, updated Thursday, continues to show a very sight trend “upward” (actually “less negative,” or back toward zero).
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Polar.gif
The graph of the computed angle of the Heliospheric Current Sheet just put in another higher low, with the minimum having already occurred in late 2006
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Tilts.gif

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

All in your comment that relates to the solar wind’s influence on geomagnetic activity is essentially correct and was figured out 30 years ago, see e.g. http://www.leif.org/research/suipr699.pdf
What is not established is causative correlations with hurricanes or temperatures, or any other weather/climate phenomena.
REPLY: Wresting the secrets of Nature from her is never easy. – Anthony

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

Pamela Gray

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

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

Leon Brozyna

Leif Svalgaard (11:31:32) :
For the umpteenth time: the high values for ap on the 11th has nothing whatsoever to do with any uptick of SC24.
I was only commenting on the recent rise in the Ap. Wasn’t trying to relate it to anything else. Just noted that it had been rather high and holding, compared to recent low values.

Pamela Gray (11:37:54) :
Leif, I just took a quick sweep of your 1978 article. Tell me, is that a picture of chadded data cards?
Which article? There were many.

Leif Svalgaard (11:25:37) :
REPLY: Wresting the secrets of Nature from her is never easy. – Anthony
You cannot gather roses where no roses grow…

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

Pamela Gray

Leif: A View of Solar Magnetic Fields, the Solar Corona, and the Solar Wind in Three Dimensions, 1978
The artist didn’t stray far from your drawing. Sometimes those artists can stylize something past the point of what was intended by the original depiction, that of trying to capture the essence of a phenomena. But back to chads and data cards. That has to be a picture of a data card.