A few days ago I wrote in State of the Sun for year end 2008: all’s quiet on the solar front – too quiet that “No new cycle 24 predictions have been issued by any solar group (that I am aware of ) in the last couple of months.” Coincidentally and shortly after that, NASA’s David Hathaway updated his solar prediction page here. He’s made a significant backtrack over previous predictions, and now for the first time he is claiming cycle 24 will be less than cycle 23, not greater.
Kudos to our WUWT resident solar physicist Leif Svalgaard for his foresight. He has been saying for many months that cycle 24 would be significantly reduced, and not greater than 23.
Here is Hathaway’s most familiar graphic, which has an active sun in the background. Perhaps it is time to update that background to something more reflective of the times…..oh wait, read on.
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Here in this graphic, from Klimadebat.dk we can see how much has changed since Hathaway’s last prediction update in October 2008:
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Note that Hathaway did indeed change background graphics from October to January. Its just not quite the smooth and nearly featureless ball we see today.
Courtesy of Mike Smith, here is the March 2006 prediction graphic:
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Hathaway’s predicted Cycle 24 maximun in March 2006: 145
Hathaway’s predicted Cycle 24 maximun in October 2008: 137
Hathaway’s predicted Cycle 24 maximun in January 2009: 104
I’d say that represents a sea change in thinking, but the question now is: How low will he go?
I was looking for a substantial quote from Hathaway in his prediction page, but it appears he is being quite conservative in his language, focusing mostly on methodology, not the prediction itself. I don’t blame him, he’s in a tough spot right now.
Meanwhile we’ve had an entertaining episode with the most recent Cycle 24 transient sunspot/sunspeck that appeared briefly yesterday then disappeared almost as fast as it appeared. See the area on the lower right of the sun:
In response to my query asking if he concurred with my assessment of it being an SC24 speck, (he did) Leif wrote to me: “Seems that it has received even a region number 11010. Somewhat ridiculous.”
Then about 12 hours later: “And SWPC has withdrawn the number. No numbered region after all.”
It will be interesting to see which organization counts this event, or not, in the month end tally. Up until this point, we had 25 consecutive spotless days. Now we have more, or not.
h/t to Frank Lansner for the Klimatdebat.dk graphic link and a bunch of other commenters who made note of the Hathaway page