I’ve looked at the Ap Index on a regular basis, as it is an indicator of how active the solar dynamo is. When we had sunspot 1029 recently, the largest in months, it gave hope to many that Solar cycle 24 had finally started to ramp up.
From the data provided by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) on November 2nd, you can see that October 2009 had little Ap magnetic activity. The value is now 3 for the month. Here’s my graph from October 2009 SWPC Ap data:
Leif Svalgaard points out to me another indicator of low solar magnetic activity. Bill Livingston was able to observe sunspot group 1029, and measure its magnetic field and contrast. Leif’s graph with my annotation for group 1029 is below. By itself, this one sunspot group isn’t significant, but it does fit into a prediction made by Livingston and Penn.
The measurement of sunspot group 1029 falls just where there should be on the Livingston and Penn predicted path to invisibility.
WUWT readers may recall this NASA News article in September about L&P’s predictions:
And this article:
And finally this one, which talks about the progression of lower magnetic activity and increased contrast ratios of umbra’s in sunspots:
Since we only have sunspot magnetic and contrast data for about 20 years, one can’t be too certain of the outcome just yet. However, if cycle 24 was indeed ramping up with increased magnetic activity, seeing a spot that was well above the magnetic value of the last couple would certainly be reassuring.
We live in interesting times.