Solar geomagnetic index reaches unprecedented low – only "zero" could be lower – in a month when sunspots became more active

Back on December 12th 2009 I posted an article titled:

Solar geomagnetic activity is at an all time low – what does this mean for climate?

We then had a string of sunspots in December that marked what many saw as a rejuvenation of solar cycle 24 after a long period of inactivity. See December sunspots on the rise

It even prompted people like Joe Romm to claim:

The hottest decade ends and since there’s no Maunder mininum — sorry deniers! — the hottest decade begins

But what Joe doesn’t understand is that sunspots are just one proxy, the simplest and most easily observed, for magnetic activity of the sun. It is the magnetic activity of the sun which is central to Svensmark’s theory of galactic cosmic ray modulation, which may affect cloud cover formation on earth, thus affecting global temperatures. As the theory goes, lower magnetic activity of the sun lets more GCR’s into our solar system, which produce microscopic cloud seed trails (like in a Wilson cloud chamber) in our atmosphere, resulting in more cloud cover, resulting in a cooler planet. Ric Werme has a nice pictorial here.

When I saw the SWPC Ap geomagnetic index for Dec 2009 posted yesterday, my heart sank. With the sunspot activity in December, I thought surely the Ap index would go up. Instead, it crashed.

Annotated version above – Source: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/Ap.gif

Source data: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/RecentIndices.txt

When you look at the Ap index on a larger scale, all the way back to 1844 when measurements first started, the significance of this value of “1” becomes evident. This graph from Dr. Leif Svalgaard shows where we are today in relation to the past 165 years.

click for full sized image

Source: http://www.leif.org/research/Ap-Monthly-Averages-1844-Now.png

With apologies to Dr. Svalgaard, I’ve added the “1” line and the most current SWPC value of “1” for Dec 2009.

As you can see, we’ve never had such a low value before, and the only place lower to go is “zero”.

But this is only part of the story. With the Ap index dwindling to a wisp of magnetism, it bolsters the argument made by Livingston and Penn that sunspots may disappear altogether by 2015. See Livingston and Penn – Sunspots may vanish by 2015

Above: Sunspot magnetic fields measured by Livingston and Penn from 1992 – Feb. 2009 using an infrared Zeeman splitting technique. [more] from the WUWT article: NASA: Are Sunspots Disappearing?

The theory goes that once the magnetic strength falls below 1500 gauss, sunspots will become invisible to us.

Note where we are on this curve that Dr. Svalgaard also keeps of LP’s measurements:

http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston%20and%20Penn.png

click to enlarge

Source: http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston%20and%20Penn.png

It appears that we are on track, and that’s a chilling thought.

NOTE TO COMMENTERS AND MODERATORS: No off-topic discussions of Landscheidt, “electric universe”, or “iron sun” will be permitted on this thread. All will be snipped. Stay on topic. – Anthony


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Dev

I noticed this yesterday too. It’s rather jaw dropping.
I’d be interested to read a post by Dr. Svalgaard with his expert comments and insights on this development. Also, has anyone seen any press reports of comments by Dr. Svensmark regarding this latest measurement of the Ap geomagnetic index?

Bill Jamison

What an incredible opportunity to learn more about the sun itself and of course the sun’s impact on climate. What a fascinating time to be a solar scientist!

Stefan

Which earth-energy proxies can this be compared to? (please excuse my clumsy wording.)
Didn’t the ARGO data show cooling, and then was adjusted by removing a number of bots from the set?

etudiant

Is there any possibility that the suns magnetic field could be about to flip?
This has happened here on earth a number of times, as shown in the geomagnetic record.
Is there any known technique for measuring solar magnetism historically over extended periods and is there any modeling to suggest what the effects of a flip might be?

Mary R

Your Dec 12th post about geomagnetic activity that you list at the top of this article has a link to a video with Jasper Kirby but the link no longer works. I have searched but can’t find this video anywhere. Anyone have an operable link for the video?

Nicholas Britnell

We appear to have witnessed something “unprecedented” in the last 100 years. We watch and learn.

Don B

A solar scientist/climatologist whose name escapes me, but I believe it begins with an “L,” wrote that there was a lagged correlation between the geomagnetic aa index and global temperature.
Have any of you looked at the relationship between the Ap Index since 1850 and temperature?

DirkH

I don’t know how the Ap Index is measured. Was it possible back in 1850 to measure it that exactly or as these ice cory proxy values or other proxies?

tty

Except for the traffic lights it looks rather like a Dickens illustration.

RickA

I understand from the above post that we don’t have Ap Index data back to the maunder minimum (because we started collecting this data 165 years ago).
It would be nice to know whether the solar geomagnetic index got down as low as 1 (or zero) during previous periods (like the maunder minimum).
Is there any kind of proxy (other than sun spot count) which can be used to estimate the Ap index number before actual measurements?
Anyway – very interesting. Thank you for the information.

AdderW

Vuk etc. (10:06:30) :
‘Global warming’ has arrived in UK .
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/47049000/jpg/_47049609_hawick-neil-dickson.jpg

and the colour of global warming is re…sorry, white of course
Britain covered in global scorching

Curiousgeorge

Forgive my ignorance, but what would cause the decrease in solar magnetic activity? Is it similar to the way the earth’s field works – spinning iron core, etc. ?

Ckn Litl

I really struggle with this one. In the reasoning part of my mind, I look at the correlation and causations of widespread human death and note that cold is one of the most significant factors.
It makes me shudder.
The childish part of my mind looks at this and says that in the future we will be able to say NAH NAH, I told you so to the warmists. Unfortunately, this seems like a very hollow victory when I consider the human cost …

John Silver

It’s sunspot cycle LENGTH that is closely correlated to global temperature anomaly.
Cycle 24 gets longer, it gets colder.
Right or wrong?

Methow Ken

At least at the level I understand it, Svensmark’s theory on GCRs and their postulated impact on cloud cover being driven by the level of geomagnetic activity on the sun seems quite plausible.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the above data is the magnitude of the change along with the steepness of the slope of the curve in a relatively short period of time; i.e.:
If the projected trend continues, the absolute value of sunspot mag field strength is on track to decline by FIFTY percent in only about 25 years. That’s a BIG change in a very short time.
And unlike many other factors that affect climate, any significant increase in cloud cover should I would think have an almost immediate effect on world-wide temperature data. So if Svensmark is right, we won’t have to wait 100 years for empirical data to confirm the correctness of his theory:
There will be hard data ”soon” (unless of course diehard AGW acolytes can again get away with applying large ”correction factors” to the raw temp data, ala UEA-CRU).

Alan S. Blue

Is this index a value that is expected or known to be fundamentally bounded by zero? Like temperature in Kelvin? Or is it a basically arbitrary scale slapped onto something we can measure – like temperature in Celsius?

DR

Anthony,
On your warning not to speak of Landscheidt, I’ve never brought it up, but am wondering why you have so much opposition to it so we all understand. I have no opinion one way or the other. Snip if that’s not even allowed.
I’ve dissected UAH data thoroughly and have found definite annual cycles, particularly during El Nino years. In all the 30 years of data, on only a few occasions do global temps not peak for the year in January or February. Ignoring measurements over land, there is a relationship to global temps and ocean temp patterns (NoPol and SoPol are outliers). They (oceans) converge tightly in October (97/98 El Nino is the exception). 2009 Trpcs flattened out from July through November but rose in December. I think the Trpcs may be key to what transpires in the coming months.
We should see global satellite temps rise sharply in Jan or Feb and meet or exceed that of Nov. If they don’t it would be a departure from 30 years of historical patterns. Current winter conditions are not making sense when comparing to previous cycles, so the next two months will be very instructive.
Is it plausible that even with a moderate El Nino, there is a connection between the Ap index and clouds and possibly influencing the AO to go negative thereby limiting global temperature effects of El Nino in the NH? I wonder.

Radun

Dev (10:10:49) :
“I’d be interested to read a post by Dr. Svalgaard with his expert comments and insights on this development.”
Yesterday on SC24:
Radun:
“Recent crop of sunspots was stronger and longer than the previous one (around 20/11/09), but AA index is considerably weaker.
Anything to it ? “
lsvalgaard
“yes and no. AA is a rough measure of solar activity, but not from day to day [or even week to week].”

Oh wow that Joe Romm article was so full of fail.

Gary

RE: Don B (10:18:57)
Would that have been this man?
http://www.mitosyfraudes.org/Calen/SolarWind.html

Dandra

You added a “1′ to clarify for your readers and you feel a need to apologize. Yikes….some people must be overly sensitive.

rbateman

Just when you thought the Sun was heading back to ‘normal’, this hit’s the fan.
Now what?

DR

It appears the Bot smacker tagged my post, so will leave the “L” word out.
I’ve dissected UAH data thoroughly and have found definite annual cycles, particularly during El Nino years. In all the 30 years of data, on only a few occasions do global temps not peak for the year in January or February. Ignoring measurements over land, there is a relationship to global temps and ocean temp patterns (NoPol and SoPol are outliers). They (oceans) converge tightly in October (97/98 El Nino is the exception). 2009 Trpcs flattened out from July through November but rose in December. I think the Trpcs may be key to what transpires in the coming months.
We should see global satellite temps rise sharply in Jan or Feb and meet or exceed that of Nov. If they don’t it would be a departure from 30 years of historical patterns. Current winter conditions are not making sense when comparing to previous cycles, so the next two months will be very instructive.
Is it plausible that even with a moderate El Nino, there is a connection between the Ap index and clouds and possibly influencing the AO to go negative thereby limiting global temperature effects of El Nino in the NH? I wonder.

brad tittle

It would be nice if the scientists i admire would stop using Chartmanship.
The range on the two charts are 1800-3200 and 1500-4000. With just a little click, these charts would start at ZERO and the data would be easy to look at and come to a conclusion. As it is, I have to mentally adjust the chart data.
Please — All you leading scientists — start plotting your data without trying to fool yourself or your readers.
I am more worried about you fooling yourself.

DirkH
DirkH

Jasper Kirkby, of course.

Gary Hladik

From the AdderW (10:24:09) link:
‘Paul Simons, The Times weatherman, says the icy conditions could become more prevalent if global warming continues to melt the Arctic ice caps. “If the Gulf Stream slows down/diverts, we’re in big trouble.”‘
Another graduate of the Hollywood School of Meteorology. 🙂

Douglas DC

that October “Step Change” has a personal story attached to it.I buried my dear mother on 10/18/05. Vitually the day the sun switched to “cool” .I was walking across the Church Parking lot,and the Organist(who later charged me $100
bucks.) Said”Sure is warm today” (mid 60’s not a record for NE Oregon-and a beautiful, warm fall day-mom would’ve loved it)-she continued-“Got to do something about this!”(She is a local activist/warmist) I said”Well this is part of
a cycle,it will cool off and fairly soon as we are due for a solar cycle downturn
and the Pacific’s due for a cool cycle.”_She_was_Enraged!_”Do you not undestand what Al Gore has been pleading FOR! We are Killing the planet!”
Stompimg off, she under her breath-muttered”#$@%_Repubilcans!”-I said:
“Ah, I’m not a Republican” She got into her Suburban and sped away….

Mr. Alex

The value for December was actually 1.41, still 1 in my books though. 😉
http://www.solen.info/solar/
NOAA AR 11035 has just rotated into view and in the latest GONG images it is trying to form a tiny pore… which no doubt will be counted tomorrow with a value of 13.
Unfortunately Leif, it appears that activity (at least monthly activity) is no longer identical to the 1901 dip as you have previously mentioned. It has gone below that level. The index for January 2010 is thus far at 1.42
Solar Polar Field Strength is also in a funk:
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Polar.gif
Solar Wind is at extremely low values:
http://www.solen.info/solar/images/swind1.gif
Despite the celebration over December’s mild sunspot up-tick solar activity is low, we are entering into territory no living scientist or modern technology has experienced or recorded.
The Clilverd et al (2006) prediction for SC 24 is the likely outcome.
A peak of 42 ± 34 ,(Dalton minimum type cycle).

JMANON

Er, was Joe Romm being ironic or does he concede a link between climate and sunspot activity?
Desperate days for the Beeb (who will now investigate themselves for possible bias on climate change…. yeah, I wonder what they’ll decide?) but they keep plugging the “extremes of weather are due to global warming” ….

Atomic Hairdryer

Re: etudiant (10:15:19) :
Is there any possibility that the suns magnetic field could be about to flip?
This has happened here on earth a number of times, as shown in the geomagnetic record.

It has fields & flips regularly(ish) for the 11-year cycle. Dr Svalgaard recommended a book-
The Sun from Space, Kenneth R. Lang ISBN 978-3540769521
Which I found fascinating. Opening sentence goes-
“From afar, the Sun does not look very complex” Then proceeds to explain how it’s a loopy squirly knot of magnetism and plasma doing all sorts of complex things. Plus it has some great pictures 🙂
Still not got my head around how the Sun’s magnetic fields interact with ours, and if/how our declining fields may be affecting our system.

Pearland Aggie

As a person that has to analyze lots of data nearly every day, the thing that strikes me about the ISES Ap Progression aside of the aforementioned step change is the remarkable decrease in monthly variability. Before 2005, the monthly variability was much larger than it has been for the last 4 years or so. That, in itself, is quite remarkable and unique. I’m not sure what it means, but it is certainly noteworthy.

Jeff L

The following link is nice in that the A index, sunspots & flux are all plotted together:
http://www.solen.info/solar/
Anthony, might I suggest to add the A index to the climate widget

It is interesting days indeed. Hopefully the record cold currently being experienced is not an omen to come. Global cooling will be far more disastrous than any warming. Maybe you Londoners will be able to skate on the Thames again!

So, is there actually increased cloud cover?
If the Ap is just about as low as it can get, then we should be seeing something happening right now, right?
Does anyone know of something like an up to date average cloud cover vs Ap chart?

M White

etudiant (10:15:19) :
“Is there any possibility that the suns magnetic field could be about to flip?”
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2001/ast15feb_1.htm
“February 15, 2001 — You can’t tell by looking, but scientists say the Sun has just undergone an important change. Our star’s magnetic field has flipped”
Happens every solar maximum

hunter

What this mostly shows is that Romm, the RC gang, etc. etc. don’t know squat.
Hansen was in Houston about one year ago, with a .ppt presentation making fun of the concerns about solar issues.
That presentation is not available any more. And, not knowing a year ago just how the AGW promoters behave, I did not download a copy.
It would be great to review his presentation of then.

George S.

Just a layman in this area, but I’ve also noticed that what few spots there are revisit us. Seems as if the production of new spots has not picked up as much as the the SSN would indicate. Is there a measure of longevity vs. new production over time compared to Ap?
Please excuse the naivete!

maz2

From the British Bullshipping Corpulation.
…-
“Chief defends Met Office record
John Hirst, head of the Met Office, defends the record of the weathermen after they predicted a mild winter.
Andrew Neil asked him to justify his salary which is higher than the prime minister’s.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/the_daily_politics/8443687.stm

Mr. Alex

Adding on to my earlier post… which I’m not sure came through :/…
NOAA has already numbered (SWO #) this pore, and it’s not 13 as I predicted but rather 15.
Absolute nonsense.

JonesII

tty (10:22:23) :
Except for the traffic lights it looks rather like a Dickens illustration
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/47049000/jpg/_47049609_hawick-neil-dickson.jpg
As nature likes..to dance in wavy and gracious movements, nature does not know of men’s curious invention of straight lines, so in its dancing cycles following musical rythms of four hundred years of so, its wide hips move right, and left, sometimes standing still…
Fear not, repent yes of silly pride, forbid nothing, just silently and humbly watch!

Radun

Mary R (10:17:46) :
Your Dec 12th post about geomagnetic activity that you list at the top of this article has a link to a video with Jasper Kirby but the link no longer works. I have searched but can’t find this video anywhere. Anyone have an operable link for the video?

Is it this one?
http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1181073/
And thanks to Anthony for this article, far more interesting than fiction!

Sir Sefirot

Etudiant, the sun magnetic field flips with each solar cycle every 11 years aprox, with each polarity taking turns alternatively.

Bill Sticker

Yes, but aren’t sun spots only one indicator of solar activity? They’ve never been anything more.
As for Romm’s ‘hottest decade’, the only ‘hottest’ thing about the past ten years has been the abuse heaped upon those who still try to do some independent critical thinking.

JonesII

Consequences of “Pride and prejudice”:
the swirl of cloud over East Anglia is the cumulus cloud system that caused snow showers today

drams1

On the topic of lag between Ap index and temperature:
There appears to be a 5 year lag from Ap index to Albuquerque growing season from 1900 to now. Spurious correlation? Don’t know.

Harold Vance

Don’t forget Lief’s Fall 2009 AGU presentation:
http://www.leif.org/research/AGU%20Fall%202009%20SH13C-03.pdf

Mr. Alex

1. Solar Polar Field Strength in a funk:
http://wso.stanford.edu/gifs/Polar.gif
2. Solar wind at extremely low values:
http://www.solen.info/solar/images/swind1.gif
3. Ap Index has dropped below 1901 levels, so it seems activity is no longer identical to 1901 dip as Leif has stated previously. ( Ap so far 1.42 for Jan 2010)
Despite December’s modest increase in spots and today’s numbering of the puny pore, solar activity is still low and the Clilverd et al (2006) prediction for SC 24 peak of 42 ± 34 (identical to Dalton Minimum cycles), is the likely outcome.