Ken Tapping: One year on into the minimum
From John A’s solarscience.auditblogs.com
I’ve just been in e-mail correspondance with Dr Kenneth Tapping, asking him to comment on the progress of the solar minimum and his opinion on the likely size of SC24 when it does deign to appear.
Dear Dr Tapping
After you published your rebuke to Investor’s Business Daily, I put your entire reply onto my blog (see http://solarscience.auditblogs.com/2008/04/22/ken-tapping-the-current-solar-minimum/ ) which I notice is the second listing when anyone googles your name. I hope you didn’t mind.
Since that reply the Sun has appeared to have gone into an even deeper slumber than it was when you wrote your article, more than a year ago. You ended that article with a statement
AT THE MOMENT IT IS UNJUSTIFIED TO ASSUME THE SUN IS UNDERGOING A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN BEHAVIOUR. ON THE BASIS OF SUNSPOT NUMBER DATA, WE CANNOT ASSUME ANYTHING ODD IS HAPPENING UNLESS THE NEXT CYCLE DELAYS ITS START INTO 2009 OR 2010
Well it’s now nearly mid-2009 and the only spots to be seen very very occasionally are SC23 polarity.
Do you have any further comment on the Sun’s (lack of) activity? Are we close to unusual times in solar activity? Is the sun undergoing a significant change in behaviour?
He replied [with my emphasis]
I’ve just got back here from the Space Weather Workshop, which was held in Boulder, Colorado. The opinion there is that the next cycle is coming, although forecasts are for a low cycle with a late start.
Our radio telescopes have detected no sign of the new cycle yet. However a statistical study of indices that I have been doing suggests the Sun did show a significant change in behaviour over the last few years, but that things are starting to slip back towards the normal situation, which could suggest the Sun is at least showing signs of waking up again. It’s deciding to take an additional lie-in cannot be ruled out.
Activity is certainly very low.
When I asked for that “statistical study of indices”, Dr Tapping replied that it was being submitted to a journal and he’d let me know when its in pre-print – which is fine by me.
I think it’s fair to say that all solar scientists have been caught out by the length of the solar minimum and the delay to SC24. In subsequent posts I’ll be reviewing the prognostications of solar models, in an effort to understand what exactly goes into predictions of solar cycles.
In other news, as reported on Watts Up With That:
NOAA/SWPC will be releasing an update to the Solar Cycle 24 Prediction on Friday, May 8, 2009 at noon Eastern Daylight Time (1600 UT) at a joint ESA/NASA/NOAA press conference
I can hardly wait.
[The wait is over, and the announcement was made Friday, which you can read here – Anthony]