Some speculation that solar cycle 25 has already begun

Leif Svalgaard writes:

Some speculation that solar cycle 25 has already begun:

http://xrt.cfa.harvard.edu/resources/pubs/savc0707.pdf

see caption

From a 2006 NASA News article - In red, David Hathaway's predictions for the next two solar cycles and, in pink, Mausumi Dikpati's prediction for cycle 24, and the expected "low" cycle 25.

Graph source: NASA News

This would be stunning, because it suggests that the sun has skipped a solar cycle (#24) . Researchers, three from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the other from Marshall Space Flight Center-NASA, have published a paper that suggests this possibility.

Does a polar coronal hole’s flux emergence follow a Hale-like law?

A. Savcheva1, J.W. Cirtain2, E.E. DeLuca1, L. Golub1

ABSTRACT

Recent increases in spatial and temporal resolution for solar telescopes sensitive to EUV and X-ray radiation have revealed the prevalence of transient jet events in polar coronal holes. Using data collected by the X-Ray Telescope on Hinode, Savcheva et al. (2007) confirmed the observation, made first by the Soft X-ray Telescope on Yohkoh, that some jets exhibit a motion transverse to the jet outflow direction.

The velocity of this transverse motion is, on average, 20 kms−1. The direction of the transverse motion, in combination with the standard reconnection model for jet production (e.g. Shibata et al. 1992), reflects the magnetic polarity orientation of the ephemeral active region at the base of the jet. From this signature, we find that during the present minimum phase of the solar cycle the jet-base ephemeral active regions in the polar coronal holes had a preferred east-west direction, and that this direction reversed during the cycle’s progression through minimum.

In late 2006 and early 2007, the preferred direction was that of the active regions of the coming sunspot cycle (Cycle 24), but in late 2008 and early 2009 the preferred direction has been that of the active regions of sunspot cycle 25. These findings are consistent with the results of Wilson et al. (1988) that there is a high latitude expansion of the solar activity

cycle.

Full paper here:

http://xrt.cfa.harvard.edu/resources/pubs/savc0707.pdf

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LarryD

To reveal my ignorance, why is the possibility of residual cycle 23 activity excluded?

Bill Illis

There is also a paper that says solar cycle 5 (what would have been 5) in the middle of the Dalton Minimum was skipped.
http://spaceweb.oulu.fi/~kalevi/publications/non-refereed2/ESA_SP477_lostcycle.pdf
Total Solar Irradiance from SORCE almost looks like a very short cycle started and stopped (or there is just no start-up to Cycle 24 yet going on 16 months now).
http://lasp.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/ion-p?ION__E1=PLOT%3Aplot_tsi_data.ion&ION__E2=PRINT%3Aprint_tsi_data.ion&ION__E3=BOTH%3Aplot_and_print_tsi_data.ion&START_DATE=1900&STOP_DATE=2500&TIME_SPAN=6&PLOT=Plot+Data

Dr. Svaalgard, has it been possible to observe this kind of data before or is this a new kind of data collected with new techniques? Maybe it is possible that the signs of cycle 25 that they claim to be detecting are in fact normal processes for any cycle, but we simply have not been able to observe it… or perhaps didn’t think to look…?

Dr. Svalgaard. Svalgaard. I hate it when the idiots get my name wrong, too.

KlausB

Leif,
as a Layman on this,
could it be that it’s something like “The Case of The Missing Cycle”
pdf from Jan Janssens:
http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/MSCwebEng.pdf
Regards
KlausB

timetochooseagain

How can it “skip” a cycle? Is there some subtlety in how cycles are numbered that I don’t understand?

Zer0th

So any apparent #23’s (like the tiny spot on 07/23 that didn’t make the grade) *could* be #25’s, speculatively?

Robin Kool

Saying that the sun may have skipped cycle 24 and gone to cycle 25, means, I guess, that you expect this cycle to now start.
What if the sun has gone back to cycle 23, meaning more minimum. before it eventually starts cycle 24.
And, what if the sun goes into a really long minimum, occasionally switching magnetic polarities? How was that in the Maunder minimum?
I mean, the idea that when the sun switches magnetic polarities, it starts the new cycle, is now dead in the water.

Dan Evens

Ok, this paper is a bit out of my line, so I get lost pretty early on.
If it’s correct, what can we expect to see from the sun in the next little while? And how will things differ if it’s wrong?

Tim Channon

Isn’t the most likely explanation not that conventional cycle 25 has arrived but that such reversal events occur without us having historic evidence?

Alan S. Blue

Adjacent cycles make sunspots with differing polarities. So you’re choosing between placing a given spot in Cycle 23 or 25 if it has that orientation.

timetochooseagain (12:42:24) :
“How can it “skip” a cycle? Is there some subtlety in how cycles are numbered that I don’t understand?”
Dr. Svalgaard may conclude that my solar science is no better than my spelling, but I find myself waving my hand and shouting “Let me! Let me!”.
Solar Cycles are distinguished from each other by a number of things, including the magnetic polarity of sun spots. If high-latitude sunspots were to start forming with polarity opposite to that of Cycle 24 sunspots, then they would have to be considered Cycle 25 spots. The authors of this paper seem to be detecting similar signals in other solar processes, indicating that Cycle 24 may be ending even before it has really begun.
Am I too far off, Doc?

Interesting observations. If, big “if” assumed herein, this is an indication that the next rise is Cycle 25 (not remnents of cycle 23 magnetic direction sunspotss) would that indicate that 25 would be far smaller, or about the same, or larger than “average”?

D. King

The direction of the transverse motion, in combination with the standard reconnection model for jet production (e.g. Shibata et al. 1992), reflects the magnetic polarity orientation of the ephemeral active region at the base of the jet.
Aaaaaa, What?

Curiousgeorge

Interesting from a couple of angles. 1. The pure scientific aspect of finding out something about the sun that we hadn’t known, and 2. What can we expect from the various media and the general public regarding the supposed skipped cycle? No doubt the Ice Age contingent will be out in force. 😉

timetochooseagain (12:42:24) :
How can it “skip” a cycle? Is there some subtlety in how cycles are numbered that I don’t understand?
The Sun did not skip a cycle, but a cycle from a modeling prediction was missed. Nature is the reality; models are our suppositions on what the next step of nature could be. The Sun is behaving as always, but this cycle has been different from other observed cycles; to be precise, the Sun is working normally.
The main difficulty is that astrophysicists and solar physicists do not count on reliable data for periods before the advent of satellite measurements. Perhaps the observation of other stars would help us to understand the mechanics of our own star because we are capturing cosmic events that happened in the past, as if the stars, galaxies, and other celestial bodies were cosmic fossils; unfortunatelly, we have not yet the capability of registering such changes in stars because we only perceive them as dots, even with high resolution telescopes.

Tom

As I understand things, solar cycles are marked by changes in the polarity of the magnetic field lines around the sunspots. This abstract states that the direction of travel of “transverse jets” (presumably, jets of plasma) follows the direction of sunspot magnetic polarity. The direction of travel of the jets in 2006-7 was that predicted for cycle 24, while the direction of travel for 2008-9 is the direction predicted for cycle 25 (or 23). Presumably this would not be considered a continuation of cycle 23, since the flow was briefly in the direction of cycle 24.

I downloaded, printed and read the paper. To say it is rather technical is an understatement. I must admit that I don’t understand exactly why this paper suggests SC24 is skipped or “failed”, except it has to do with an unexpected switch in polarity of “emerging flux regions” (EFR) near the polar coronal holes, to be that expected of SC25 (why not SC23?).
A short and popularized description of what new this paper is saying about what is currently happening with our sun would be very welcome I think. I am hoping you can make some informed comments aimed at lay people, Leif. Then I promise to read the paper again, possibly understanding more.
In any case, this could not be more exciting.

Tenuc

“Curiouser and curiouser!”, cried Alice. Perhaps the white rabbit should be persuaded

Mark_K

“How can it “skip” a cycle?” – Maybe the sun is pregnant.

So far, this is only a speculation based on very little data and a model of the ‘jets’. It is fun to see how some people will go off on a tangent on this and deduce all kind of weird things, and ‘what did I tell you’-stuff. All this is, is a suggestion that we observe this phenomenon [which we couldn’t have before] carefully. Perhaps the model is not quite right, perhaps the noise is too big. Just like with the Livingston-Penn finding. Like with L-P, I know some of the authors and can vouch for them [not that they need it].

layne Blanchard

On how a cycle can be skipped… it seems intuitive that if the reason for solar cycles is gravitational forces in motion, a change in the direction of that motion could explain a reversal of the cycle’s natural progression.

Tom (13:24:46) :
The direction of travel of the jets in 2006-7 was that predicted for cycle 24, while the direction of travel for 2008-9 is the direction predicted for cycle 25 (or 23).
One assumption that may be wrong is that the small bipolar regions have a preferred direction [polarity change]. When one plots the angle between the line connecting the two spots [or specks], one finds that for large regions that line is pretty much East-West [with a small tilt – Joy’s law], but with decreasing size of the region this tendency becomes smaller and the line is more and more randomly oriented. For the smallest one [like we see in the polar regions] the orientation may be random enough that we can see almost what we want. The only way out of this is to wait and build up more statistics. But interesting, nevertheless.

D. King

Nasif Nahle (13:23:02)
Tom (13:24:46) :
Thanks.

Chris

Speaking of Livinston-Penn – How is that progressing? I haven’t heard anything in some time. I.e., does the (limited) data from current sunspots track?

Leif Svalgaard (13:29:02) :
…It is fun to see how some people will go off on a tangent on this and deduce all kind of weird things, and ‘what did I tell you’…
Well… That’s what I told you. Heh! Read my post at:
Nasif Nahle (13:23:02)

KlausB

Dear Leif,
“It is fun to see how some people will go off on a tangent on this and deduce all kind of weird things”
Simply curious, simply asking. Was my post re Jan Janssens’s pdf totally far off?
If yes, it’s enough if you write “RTFM, KlausB”.
Best Regards
KlausB

Gerry

I construe this to be evidence that the current solar sunspot minimum is more similar to the Maunder Minimum of 1645 to 1715 than to the Dalton Minimum of 1790 to 1820 (see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ssn_yearly.jpg).
Skipped cycles seem an obvious possibility for the Maunder Minimum, despite the Wolf numbering system adopted. In contrast, there were no apparent skipped cycles in the Dalton Minimum.

Carsten Arnholm, Norway (13:26:18) :
In any case, this could not be more exciting.
Small emerging or ephemeral dipoles have been observed for decades, but our knowledge of their orientation has been limited to lower latitude areas because the magnetic field is very difficult to measure in the polar caps, so we don’t really know if the same distribution of orientations exist everywhere [as we usually assume when we don’t know any better]. The new result in this paper is that the jets might be used to measure the orientation, because they should start at the speck with an orientation opposite to that of the polar field and then with time move away from the reconnection site towards the other opposite polarity speck [see their Figure 3 cartoon]. This allows them to assess the orientation.

Michael

“…unfortunately, we have not yet the capability of registering such changes in stars because we only perceive them as dots, even with high resolution telescopes.”
Here is some very interesting information about what it would take to image stars and how far advanced Nasa is with a stellar imaging project.
http://hires.gsfc.nasa.gov/si/
Regards
Michael

Douglas DC

Leif Svalgaard-we live in interesting times indeed,just from my own vague understanding,what they say in the paper is a very short cycle24? if so, wasn’t the predictions for cycle 25-due to the slowing Solar conveyor to be some what of how to put it-a dud?
Good thing I’ve go more material for expanding my greenhouse…

Gerry

The link I provided above was no longer active when I tried to go to it again. Please try:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/07/Ssn_yearly.jpg

Phil Richardson

Did not Daviid Aechibald mutter something about the the length of a solar cycle having a bit to do with have cold it could be, (the longer the colder as I undersatnd it) If cycle 24 was only a few months then we we should be geting very warm. The warm thing I have not noticed.

Mr. Alex

Yes!!! This is what I was talking about on another thread, about 4 days ago a magnetic signature was stirring at high latitude and although it produced no spots, it was clearly visible on the magnetogram among the “background noise” as Cycle 23 but at such latitude could it have been cycle 25?

Mr. Alex

“Zer0th (12:46:08) :
So any apparent #23’s (like the tiny spot on 07/23 that didn’t make the grade) *could* be #25’s, speculatively?”
That spot was likely 23 because it was on the equator.

Phillip Bratby

Come on Leif, I don’t see any health warning in the paper that this is all speculation based on very little data?

Carl Wolk

If this paper is correct, would it mean that polarity would not reverse between cycle 23 and the next cycle? That’d be weird.

Murray Duffin

We had a couple of Italian contributors a couple of months back who also suggested that cycle 24 might be skipped, based on something like “migration toward the equator” if memory serves (I sure didn’t understand and there wasn’t any detail). Does anyone know how to get back to their comments, and how to get their reactions to this paper?

We know Hathaway’s 2006 prediction for the early start and high strength of sunspot cycle #24 were wrong – he himself subsequently delayed his predicted start by about two years and cut the expected strength in half. Why should we accept his 2006 predictions that #25 will be very weak if it is based on the same type of modeling assumptions as his wrong predictions for #24?
Historic data indicates long solar cycles tend to be weaker than average short ones tend to be stronger. If #24 has come and gone within the past year or so, why wasn’t it really strong?
Odd-numbered cycles have different polarity from even-numbered cycles, which is why some speculate the recent “almost” sunspot could either be a left-over from #23 or the start of #25. How long have scientists been able to measure the polarity of sunspots? Are we sure that the previously numbered sunspot cycles from over a hundred years ago actually do have alternating polarities?
During previous minima, have sunspots from the old cycle intermixed with those from the new cycle or has there always been a clean transition (at least for those minima where scientists could measure polarity so they knew to which cycles the spots belonged) ?
The possibility the Sun has skipped cycle #24 seems like an extraordinary speculation which would require some extraordinary proof. However, if it turns out to be true, it seems it would throw nearly all solar models into question. If, as many of us believe “It’s the Sun, stupid”, that would throw virtually all IPCC climate models into question and invalidate arguments for AGW-dominated climate change.

Jim

*****************************
Leif Svalgaard (13:29:02) :
“Perhaps the model is not quite right”
********************
Given the success of models of complex systems, this one gets my vote.

Paul Vaughan

Re: Bill Illis (12:37:57)
Bill, there’s a very recent update on that story:
Usoskin, I.G; Mursula, K.; Arlt, R.; & Kovaltsov, G.A. (2009). A solar cycle lost in 1793-1800: early sunspot observations resolve the old mystery. The Astrophysical Journal 700, L154-L157.
http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/apjl_700_2_154.pdf

Also possibly of interest:
Zolotova & Ponyavin (2007). Was the unusual solar cycle at the end of the XVIII century a result of phase asynchronization? Astronomy & Astrophysics 470, L17-L20.
http://www.aanda.org/index.php?option=article&access=standard&Itemid=129&url=/articles/aa/pdf/2007/30/aa7681-07.pdf

idlex

This is a joke, no?

Ellie in Belfast

A follow up to the paper Bill Illis refers to, a paper published today – Cycle 4 (1784–1799) was actually two shorter cycles of 9 and 7 years – a ‘normal’ one and a very weak one. “A SOLAR CYCLE LOST IN 1793–1800: EARLY SUNSPOT OBSERVATIONS RESOLVE THE OLD MYSTERY”
http://climate.arm.ac.uk/publications/arlt2.pdf

VG

Ot but its snowing in Santiago Chile (AGAIN!). SBS Australia news

alphajuno

More evidence that something may have influenced the Sun from behaving like it has usually for the last two to four centuries. Very interesting indeed.
Sky and Telescope has an article about the Sun this month. I’m sure the author will be lambasted by so-called experts. But the fact is, if there were experts who understood the Sun sufficiently, the article wouldn’t need to have been written.

Mike McMillan

I’m guessing that it’s s leftover from 23, and we still have 24 to get going. Since the sun doesn’t affect the earth’s climate, I’m not worried.
On the good side, at least it’s not anthropogenic.

Gerry

Meanwhile, we’re having another long run of spotless days. No sign here of either cycle 24 or cycle 25:
http://www2.nict.go.jp/y/y223/sept/swcenter/sunspot.html

Curiousgeorge (13:22:39) : “…What can we expect from the various media and the general public regarding the supposed skipped cycle? No doubt the Ice Age contingent will be out in force. ;-)”
From the media? “CO² Cause of Solar Inactivity, Scientists Say.”
From the general public? “Solar cycles? Great! Can you ride ’em on the freeway at night?”
From the Warmist Willies: “We don’t know what this means, but we’re sure it’s worse than we thought.”

If you look back at the Maunder minimum, the solar cycles were not very distinct and confused. It’s quite possible that this erratic behavior is normal.
Maybe — The sun just runs out of juice and rests for a 100 years or so.
Why should it matter, the sun has no effect of the climate of the cooling earth.

I keep saying – the Sun has shifted into reverse, we’re going back to Cycle 23. Of course, no one takes me seriously, which is a Good Thing.
Given the short history of these measurements, let’s not rush too quickly to settled science, but it’s another thing worth watching.
The fascinating times continue!