That solar sinking feeling

When I last wrote about the solar activity situation, things were (as Jack Horkheimer used to say) “looking up”. Now, well, the news is a downer. From the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) all solar indices are down, across the board:

The radio activity of the sun has been quieter:

And the Ap Geomagnetic Index has taken a drop after peaking last month:

WUWT contributor Paul Stanko writes:

As has been its pattern, Solar Cycle 24 has managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  The last few months of raw monthly sunspot numbers from the Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC) in Belgium are: January = 12.613, February = 18.5, March = 15.452, April = 7.000 and May = 8.484.  After spending 3 months above the criteria for deep solar minimum, we’re now back in the thick of it.

The 13 month smoothed numbers, forecast values and implication for the magnitude of the cycle peak are as follows:

  • June 2009 had a forecast of 5.5, actual of 2.801, implied peak of 45.83
  • July 2009 had a forecast of 6.7, actual of 3.707, implied peak of 49.79
  • August 2009 had a forecast of 8.1, actual of 5.010, implied peak of 55.67
  • September 2009 had a forecast of 9.7, actual of 6.094, implied peak of 56.55
  • October 2009 had a forecast of 11.5, actual of 6.576, implied peak of 51.46
  • November 2009 had a forecast of 12.6, actual of 7.190, implied peak of 51.36
  • December 2009 had a forecast of 14.6, actual would require data from June.

Solar Cycle 24 now has accumulated 810 spotless days.  820, which would require only 10 more spotless days, would mean that Cycle 24 was one standard deviation above the mean excluding the Dalton and Maunder Grand Minima.

One standard deviation is often an accepted criteria for considering an occurrence ‘unusual’.

Here are the latest plots from Paul Stanko:

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Enneagram

Someone upthere pull the hand break:
http://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Solar?date=0&utc=2069%2F07%2F20+20%3A17%3A43&jd=2476948.34564&img=-k1&sys=-Sf&eyes=0&imgsize=600&orb=-b2&lat=50&ns=North&lon=7%B0&ew=East&hlat=90%B0&hns=North&hlon=0%B0&elements=
With Jupiter and Uranus in one side and Saturn on the other, gotto to wait until next november (no kidding, no elections up there)

Dave D

Do you suppose that this, coupled with a La Nina starting will lead to a cooler 2nd half of the year and maybe 5-7 more years to come, as like per David Achibald’s theories? The sun has been in the tank for 3 years, I think the cooling he predicted is due this summer? I personally would like him to be right, self interest hopes he’s wrong…

RobW

Hmm. Very low solar activity, La Nina on the horizon. Looks like its back to the good ol’ cold days of the 60-70’s. Good for fish not so good for crops.

Scott Covert

Anthony, Leif is going to bring down the rain on this.
How is this blip unusual? How are solar Minima unusual?
Look back, the data are spikey.

All we can do is sit and watch … By now you would think NASA with their scary press releases would have figured it out. We do not control the sun, no matter what they make people think. No more than we control the weather…….
But frankly, it is a good time for science, we can now watch with modern instruments, that could open our eyes to new discovery. What is bad about that?

Stephen Wilde

Expect the polar oscillations to stay negative and the stratosphere to gradually reverse the cooling of the late 20th century.
http://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/sola/5/0/53/_pdf
“The evidence for the cooling trend in the stratosphere may need to be
revisited. This study presents evidence that the stratosphere has been
slightly warming since 1996.”
The evidence for a direct solar link to the strength of the temperature inversion at the tropopause is becoming stronger by the day with all that that entails for the air circulation patterns, cloud distribution and albedo effects as described by me previously on this site and also here:
http://climaterealists.com/index.php?id=5497

We could be waiting for 30-40 years for a decent solar output of kind we saw in 2000.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC7.htm

H.R.

Dead cat bounce, eh?

the daily AP is much more revealing. right now the individual days are much lower, and the higher monthly average is the product of a few more active days raising the average. in the past, each day is higher, with the monthly average being closer to each day.
and noaa greatly exagerates the sunspot count relative to the historical record.
so overall, activity is still extraordinarily low

MattN
Roald

So what is driving the recent warming if it isn’t the sun?

How come we have 3 of the hotest years in the last 100 in the most spotless days list?
isn’t it contradicting the sun spots climate theory?

NASA predictions for solar cycle 24 have plummeted from “one of the most intense” to now one of the least intense cycles of the past 400 years:
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/06/solar-cycle-prediction-lowered-again.html

Paul

Forgive my ignorance, but isn’t this in direct contrast to the stories on Drudge and elswhere stating that we are going to have massive storms?

Al Gore's Holy Hologram

“nil says:
June 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm
How come we have 3 of the hotest years in the last 100 in the most spotless days list?”
Urban effects, station drop outs, manipulation. And satellite don’t count as it wasn’t around 100 years ago. Or even 50.

MattN says: June 10, 2010 at 11:56 am
This story might have been a little premature: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20100609/sc_space/moreactivesunmeansnastysolarstormsahead

LOL I believe it is NASA that is premature.
The daily AP shows an even quieter picture. Just a few active days pushed up the average.
For a good picture of sunspot activity check the laymans count.
Dont’ worry though, the Sun has no effect on climate.

Enneagram

Tarpon:
But frankly, it is a good time for science, we can now watch with modern instruments…..hope not with modern lies too.

Where’s Big Al? And the jerky Sen. Graham? All that CO2 is even screwing up the sun! Somebody do something… ready, fire, aim…. er, wait a minute….

James Allison

Is this good for skiers?

Hello Leif
Can you please provide an update on sunspot magnetic field strength and how it’s trending in relation to Livingston and Penn’s analysis?
http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009EO300001.pdf

Enneagram

vukcevic:
This is more dramatic:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LP-project1.gif

Curiousgeorge

This is one of those “Good news, bad news” stories. High solar activity is not such a great thing either. Think CME’s, etc. that trash satellites, cause blackouts, increase the risk of various cancers, etc. Pick your poison.

Jimbo

Sunspot numbers had better get ramping up soon.

NOAA / NASA – May 29, 2009
“”If our prediction is correct, Solar Cycle 24 will have a peak sunspot number of 90, the lowest of any cycle since 1928 when Solar Cycle 16 peaked at 78,” says panel chairman Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.”
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/29may_noaaprediction/

Ulric Lyons

@Enneagram says:
June 10, 2010 at 11:34 am
If its sunspots you`re after, then the proximity of the inner planets with Jupiter, from late August to late October will produce a whole series.
@MattN says:
June 10, 2010 at 11:56 am
“This story might have been a little premature:”
I don`t think so, larger solar storms tend to happen through maximums following long quiet minimums.
@Roald says:
June 10, 2010 at 12:01 pm
“So what is driving the recent warming if it isn’t the sun?”
The solar wind speed has returned to levels not seen since late 2007.
@ nil says:
June 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm
“How come we have 3 of the hotest years in the last 100 in the most spotless days list?
isn’t it contradicting the sun spots climate theory?”
A good deal of the theory is back to front. The larger proportion of long quiet minimums display above normal surface temp`s, minimums with higher SSN will have more cold episodes/winters. Over the whole cycle, more cold winters will be found around maximum. Its all to do with the balance between spots and coronal holes.

tommy

@nil
“How come we have 3 of the hotest years in the last 100 in the most spotless days list?
isn’t it contradicting the sun spots climate theory?”
Not really… There could be up to a decade lag between low solar activity and noticeable effect on climate.

The Sun is right on track to its predicted cycle 24:
http://www.leif.org/research/Active%20Region%20Count.png
Detailed plots here:
http://www.leif.org/research/TSI-SORCE-2008-now.png
The ‘episodic’ ramp-up is also not unusual for a weak cycle:
http://www.leif.org/research/SC14.png

crosspatch

“isn’t this in direct contrast to the stories on Drudge and elswhere stating that we are going to have massive storms?”
Stories like that are generally a “safe bet” if you play the odds. We have “massive storms” every solar max and our electronic infrastructure is more extensive than it was during the last solar max.
It is just a headline designed to attract eyeballs to ads at most news media outlets. That is why it is called the “news industry”; they manufacture news.

Ulric Lyons

My solar based forecast for temperature deviations from normals, indicates;
a heat wave starting around June 12th,
a heat wave starting around mid July,
a drop in temp mid August leading to v.heavy N.H. rain,
an intensly hot September, especially at the end,
a record breaking hot October,
an unusually mild November, very wet.

Jimbo

MattN says:
June 10, 2010 at 11:56 am
This story might have been a little premature: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20100609/sc_space/moreactivesunmeansnastysolarstormsahead
Maybe, maybe not. What I do know is that NASA has been on about a ramping up for a couple of years now while sunspot numbers were heading down. Let’s wait and see shall we.

MattN

Thermal intertia. Do you think it’s like turning off a light switch?

Enneagram says:
Someone upthere pull the hand break:
Planning a trip down to Concepción on 20th September, flying to Europe to see Katla’s shaking its ashtray?

kwik

If they adjust down the X-factor a bit, it will be colder in the NASA models too;
http://climaterealists.com/attachments/database/GreenhouseGasTheoryDiscredited.pdf

thorne

Forget CO2, forget Methane – the only place Earth gets heat from is the Sun. (double fullstop). Find out how much heat comes from the Sun during its solar variations – then FIND OUT HOW THE EARTH HANDLES THE INPUT.
ps. No models are allowed – they don’t work!

Enneagram

Wishful thinking: Next october, Climate Gate II. Next november: Snow falling on Cancun during GWrs. jamboree, El Chichon volcano eruption covers with ashes pleasure gathering of climate fanatics, local drug cartel’s maffia kidnaps Al Baby. ☺

James Chamberlain

I’m an AGW skeptic, but I agree with Lief. It looks like noise on the ramp up of cycle 24…

gary gulrud

So much for ‘revising’ historical SS counts, et al. Current inflated SS numbers render the whole “science” a farce. Now we are supposed to believe radio fluence is the holy grail. Perhaps it will so resolve-when we’re long dead and gone.

Ray

Just like with the temperature dataset, NOAA is also contaminating the Solar Spot Number by giving sunspot numbers to every little speck on the sun… even dead pixels.

Roald

Al Gore’s Holy Hologram says:
June 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm
“nil says:
June 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm
How come we have 3 of the hotest years in the last 100 in the most spotless days list?”
Urban effects, station drop outs, manipulation. And satellite don’t count as it wasn’t around 100 years ago. Or even 50.”
But haven’t we learned only yesterday that the increase in CO2 is following the temperature rise? Could it really be that the oceans are emitting so much CO2 because of urban heat islands?

tim maguire

I’m looking at your graphs with a chartist’s eye, not a scientists, and I see a very spiky history that suggests you should be careful reading too much into this recent drop in sunspots. I’d wait for a couple more data points before concluding the sun is going quiet again.

gary gulrud says:
June 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm
So much for ‘revising’ historical SS counts, et al. Current inflated SS numbers render the whole “science” a farce.
Only for people that do not know what is going on. The current sunspot numbers are probably too LOW, as sunspots are warmer and thus harder to see.

Jimmy Haigh

“Ulric Lyons says:
June 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm
My solar based forecast for temperature deviations from normals, … etc…”
But where?

Tim Clark

Roald says:June 10, 2010 at 1:21 pm
Urban effects, station drop outs, manipulation. And satellite don’t count as it wasn’t around 100 years ago. Or even 50.”
But haven’t we learned only yesterday that the increase in CO2 is following the temperature rise? Could it really be that the oceans are emitting so much CO2 because of urban heat islands?
So much CO2? Really. Historically? Unprecendented? Better look at some historical reconstructions or change your use of adjectives.

Enneagram

Could it happen a sudden ice-age like this Frozen Wave in the Antarctic could suggest?
http://www.scribd.com/doc/32858301/Frozen-Wave

It is far too soon to say the present solar cycle is slowing down. It actually looks like we are going to have some of the strongest solar activity of this cycle, so far, by the end of June 2010.

Ralph

nil says: June 10, 2010 at 12:02 pm
How come we have 3 of the hotest years in the last 100 in the most spotless days list?

Every downturn from a peak is going to be neat that peak. And 2009-2010 a hot period?? Pffff….
Rule one of AGW – it is only ever very hot in places that nobody lives and nobody can verify.
.

Jay Cech

The curve is pretty noisy, lots of ups and downs.
The current little dip has many of similar size earlier in the cycle.
Wait and see if the trend survives the noise.
-Jay

Ralph

I love this NASA Sunspot prediction.
We pay for this ‘science’ ? You could do better by throwing darts at a board, or doing a vox-pop at your local kindergarten.
http://homepages.tesco.net/~trochos/ssn-nasa-predictionsb.gif
.

Too early to say. This fluctuates wildly. The next 6 months will tell us much more I think.
My feeling though is that the sun is taking a nap.

R. Gates

An important graph that should be always be looked at when discussing the sun is total solar irradiance. Irradiance is good measure of the total energy reaching the earth from the sun, and as as this latest very detailed graph displays:
http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/total_solar_irradiance_plots/images/tim_level3_tsi_24hour_2400x1800.png
While it is bouncing around a lot, the graph is quite clearly on the uptrend from the solar minimum, and if you look back toward the years prior to the solar minimum, heading back towards the last solar max in cycle 23, you’ll see a series of higher highs and lower lows, that are in line with the crossing of groups of sunspots, etc. Expect irradiance to continue on it’s upward trek, though bouncing up and down as it does so, toward the solar max in 2013, and the total amount of energy from the sun to increase ever so slightly in tandem. A great study on this has recently been published which also discusses the surprizing relationship between sunspots and faculae and irradiance:
http://www.physorg.com/news194025410.html
In sum, though we may be temporarily seeing a lull in solar activity, this brief spike down, which as the solar irradiance chart above shows, is often followed by a sharp spike upward, and there is no reason to think we won’t see that soon, as we have a long time to go to the next solar max.

Ulric Lyons

@Jimmy Haigh says:
June 10, 2010 at 1:46 pm
“But where?”
N.Hemisphere generally.