Sunspots at high detail now available from SDO – what will this do to the sunspot count?

Readers may recall a story on WUWT from April titled: Solar Dynamics Observatory – STUNNING first images and movies

Now, SDO imagery of the sun is online. This week spaceweather.com has started using SDO sunspot imagery in place of the familiar SOHO MDI image on their left sidebar.  See all resolutions: 4096, 1024, 256 The upside of the 4096 pixel image is that the detail is striking, the downside is that even tiny sunspecks are now visible in exquisite detail.

SDO sunspot image - click to enlarge

The real question now is; what will this new detail do to sunspot counts. As we saw in August 2008, when SIDC retroactively counted a sunspeck to snatch away a spotless month, will the SDO now be the new speckometer? Older telescopes and projection methods would never have seen the sunspecks we see today.

As we see with Geoff Sharp’s Layman’s Sunspot Count, both SIDC and NOAA’s counts are higher than the layman’s count. Now with SDO imagery, will even more miniscule sunspecks widen the gap between them? See the graph below comparing SIDC, NOAA, and LSC:

click to enlarge

From Geoff Sharp’s website, here’s how the new Layman’s count works:

THE LAYMAN’S COUNT METHOD & HISTORY

There has been a lot of comments recently about the tiny specks that have been counted as sunspots. A tiny speck can get a daily count of 11 which severely skews the record. Also I have noticed on the SIDC record some days where the Sun is completely blank but the records show a sunspot count. NOAA is another magnitude higher than the SIDC, NOAA using a different method not meant to compare with the historical count. During times of high speck count we need a new standard to record sunspots that gives us a realistic measure of today’s activity verses the last Grand Minimum.

Robert Bateman a very motivated amateur solar enthusiast and myself started a thread at www.solarcycle24.com (which has unfortunately developed into an anti Landscheidt, Pro AGW forum) and soon devised a plan to come up with a reliable standard. We would use the existing SOHO 1024 x 1024 Continuum images and measure the pixels involved in a Sunspot. Initially it had to be determined what a standard sunspot should represent in size and density, to try and represent a minimum counter like Wolf may have done 200 years ago. After some deliberation and advise from Robert who also dabbles in Astronomy with his own equipment, we came up with a minimum standard.

SOHO Continuum zoomed to 1600x

To be counted, a sunspot or group must have 23 pixels which have a reading in the green channel of 0-70 for at least 24 hours.

All pixels in a digital image have a RGB reading which split out into separate Red, Blue, Green channels and can be easily measured and counted in one action using a freeware graphics program called GIMP.

So the standard was set, which now enabled us to go back over the records and weed out the offending specks and blank days.

The official Layman’s Sunspot Count is compared against the SIDC record which is considered conservative when compared with other institutions involved. Basically we use the same sunspot number as SIDC but replace them with zero on days that don’t make the grade. When the SIDC count is made up of two or more areas and if any of the area’s do not make the Layman’s Count, the overall SIDC daily count will be reduced by the areas that fail. Spots that count 23 pixels and over before midnight and then continue on to pass the 24 hour rule will take the SIDC value of that day. Existing Spots that have made the grade but measure less than 23 pixels at midnight are not counted on the next day.

===================================================

Unless solar science comes up with a way to deal with the advances in technology and properly merge it into the older human-optical record, the sunspot record will start looking like the surface temperature record, with upwards trends due to adjustments (or lack thereof).

I think Sharp and Bateman are on to something, and if you’ll provide me a graphic that isn’t drop shadowed onto a dark background, I’ll add it to the upcoming WUWT solar page with a link to yours. – Anthony

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110 thoughts on “Sunspots at high detail now available from SDO – what will this do to the sunspot count?

  1. I totally agree. It’s a sad mark on “Science” when even something so ridiculously obvious has to be pointed out.
    Being a male, I understand the need to play with one’s new toys, and the SDO is definitely a stunning new toy! But if someone wants to compare today with 100 years ago, that someone HAS to use the same methodology as was used 100 years ago. Otherwise they are comparing apples to brass.
    By the way, that first image is a breathtaking close-up of the little speck I see on my desktop live sun watching gadget…

  2. Rather than arbitrarily define a sunspot, would it not be more useful to plot the entire area covered by all sunspots and aggregate the total for comparison?

  3. Fair enough. But label the smaller, formerly invisible spots as a class. Like A and B spots with the latter the size that could have been seen by pre year 2000 methodology.

  4. This issue is similar to the ‘averages’ used for many other measurements. Eg:
    NSIDC Arctic Sea Ice Extent – 15% or greater use 1979 – 2000 average
    University of Bremen Arctic Sea Ice Extent – 15% or greater use 1972 – 2008 average
    NANSEN Artic ROOS- Sea ice extent 15% or greater use 1979 – 2006 average
    Wouldn’t you think that the global issue of AGW requires global standards so that the apple and orange users could speak to each other.
    We need a Douglas Adams babel fish – urgently

  5. CodeTech says:
    July 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm
    But if someone wants to compare today with 100 years ago, that someone HAS to use the same methodology as was used 100 years ago. Otherwise they are comparing apples to brass.
    —-
    Yup.

  6. Like hurricanes.
    Now they name every two clouds that are on speaking terms, even if only for a minute.

  7. I understand the goal with this and don’t disagree, but spots are only one indicator of solar activity/cycles. I hope that the general fascination with spots is not detracting from other studies of old sol, which may yield a better understanding of what is quite likely the most complex object in our entire system.

  8. Well if the science world can demote Pluto to “minor planet” and “plutoid” status as not a capital P Planet, then science should also demote all these minor specks as well and not call them spots. I propose calling them Motes, but thats the scifi nut in me.

  9. Someone needs to check which method correlates best with other measures of solar magnetic and radiative activity such as the 10.7 cm radiation. The best correlative measure should be the new standard.
    Yet for time series over the decades/centuries, the old method must also be preserved, as only it can be valid for new/old comparisons.
    KW

  10. Frankly I’m a bit stunned that this even has to be discussed. As a person of minimal education, I’ve always thought that science was about very precise specifications and descriptions.
    I would have assumed that a methodology something along the lines of a spot is big enough to be seen with the old method and a speck can be seen with the new method would have been an automatic part of the process. So a recording would be something along the lines of, on XYZ date there was A number of spots and B number of specks.
    What’s going on now amounts to nothing more than silly word games.
    Q When is an Apple not an Apple
    A When it is a fruit

  11. I’m not impressed that we can count 13 spots where Wolf would have counted three. We have always known the detail was there so why be surprised that we can now see it with ultra-precise instruments? What about SDO version 9, a sunspot at the intersection of most grains? The real question is whether science, with all of its glorious increase in knowledge, is able to hang on to the long term data intact without destroying what it has taken mankind centuries to meticulously accumulate. That is the real question. Will the great egos allow?

  12. Geoff Sharp’s Landscheidt.org is a must-visit site. It offer a nice graphical comparison chart of SC5 (1798), SC14 (1902) and SC24 (2008) sunspot counts. Currently, SC24 numbers are tracking just under the SC5 count. SC5 marked the beginning of the Dalton Minimum (1790 -1830) and much colder global temperatures.


  13. Are these “sunspecks” truly indicative of solar output?
    The reason why sunspot counts have been relied upon for decades is that they have correlated with good reliability to activity within the sun. It would seem that these hitherto-too-small-to-see “sunspecks” might not similarly serve, and therefore counting them yields information of no significant importance.

  14. At least we have the layman’s count so we can still do direct comparison. (Thank you Geoff)
    Yes there are other parameters like the F10.7 flux that are better indicators however we have had actual and not proxy measurements of sunspots for hundreds of years (1610) The first record of sunspots dates to around 800 BC in China.

  15. The sunspot record will need to be correlated with tree ring data to clear up these issues and discrepancies once and for all.

  16. Don’t ever send NOAA off to the produce section — they keep having a problem with apples and oranges.
    SDO is a mixed blessing. It’s great for capturing ever greater detail and for allowing scientists to better see what’s happening with the sun. So it’s great that they’ll be able to detect ever more sunspot details, as well as many more sun spots. However, don’t confuse that great knowledge as a valid tool with which to compare older records of the sun. They’re already impressing themselves in the field of terrestrial events by comparing the number of tropical storms/hurricanes they can find with satellites today with pre-satellite era records.
    Credibility problems?
    I wonder why …

  17. Tom Fuller says:
    July 30, 2010 at 5:58 pm
    Rather than arbitrarily define a sunspot, would it not be more useful to plot the entire area covered by all sunspots and aggregate the total for comparison?

    No, because with increasing technology, one is grabbing spots below the area standards that define them.
    What Geoff started is to bring area measurements to bear on the subject.
    His results solve the technology advantage. All one has to do is to filter by area to get what Wolf was seeing in his days.
    That is the numerical side.
    Image-wise, there is this:
    http://www.robertb.darkhorizons.org/DeepSolarMin2.htm
    and further analysis of how technology ruins the spot count is here:
    http://www.robertb.darkhorizons.org/DeepSolarMin5.htm
    On that page, 1/3 the way down, is a series of clips of sunspots.
    What I did was take SOHO MDI Continuum, take the Luminence channnel, reduce to 512×512 , and adjust the contrast to match what I can project with a 70mm F/10 refractor on paper.
    In image processing parlance this is known as binning. The specks and weak spot disappear, as they do in real life.
    No matter which way you do it, whether by Geoff’s area method, or downsizing SOHO & SDO images, the spot count is reduced to what Wolf would have seen.

  18. Here is a case example of how counting faint spots can wreck a SSN, but do little to an area measurement:
    http://fenyi.sci.klte.hu/DPD/2009/20091230/20091230_11039.html
    We’ll start with the upper data, and take the total corrected area for group # 11039 and divide it by 15:
    138/15 = 9.2 your Sunspot #.
    Next, we’ll go to the breakdown of the group, count the main spots as 10, and add 14 for the number of spots.
    10 + 14 = 24. The DSD list from swpc/noaa give 15 for Dec 30, 2009.
    SIDC gives the # as 12.
    4 different results. Confusing, isn’t it?
    Now you begin to see what Geoff and I were up to.
    Set a resolution size for detection, filter by area, and let the results land where they will.
    Now, I have nothing against SDO. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing things like this:
    http://www.robertb.darkhorizons.org/SDO_latestLg.jpg
    Extreme UV Sun w/ spots and faculae, with all the neat filaments, coronal holes and what-not.

  19. mikelorrey says:
    July 30, 2010 at 6:55 pm
    > …, then science should also demote all these minor specks as well and not call them spots. I propose calling them Motes, but thats the scifi nut in me.
    Okay, but only if we measure the area of the motes in nivens.

  20. To be fair the SIDC observatories use equipment with similar magnification to what Wolf used in the 19th century. NOAA from my knowledge uses different magnification but maybe someone could confirm that. What has changed is the way the spots are counted, Wolf who reconstructed the Dalton Minimum values did not count specks, these days we do with NOAA not making an allowance and the SIDC discounting by multiplying by 0 .6. I think the .6 discount does not work when the speck ratio increases in times as we see today.
    Also along the way the count has increased over time and as Leif states in his paper is at least 22% higher than the 19th century methods, the Layman’s Count attempts to redress these issues and bring the modern count back close to how Wolf would have calculated.
    Wolf’s formula gives extra weight to a sunspot group that just happens to align it quite closely to the F10.7 Flux values. Wolf was a fan of using sunspot area but doing so does not give a good indication of overall solar activity but does show a better record of the actual spot activity, it depends on what you want to measure. I have started a new area measurement that is factored by the magnetic strength that may be of interest to some.
    http://www.landscheidt.info/?q=node/185
    Thanks Anthony for the promotion, I can provide a graph for WUWT with a white background outside of the orange boarder, which graph/s are you interested in?

  21. That was a rhetorical question right? Of course the team and co. will use the never before observable pin pricks in the count.

  22. Geoff:
    The SDO images that Anthony links to, Red Channel gives the umbra, Blue Channel gives the Whole Spot, and Green Channel gives both.

  23. What is hilarious is the implication that these newly found sun spots confirm global warming. LOL. For years Hansen et al. said that the sun had little to do with climate. Now we will receive a plethora of ‘scientific’ thought on how the newly warming sun will compound the CO2 greenhouse effect.

  24. Dusty says:
    July 30, 2010 at 6:14 pm
    But if someone wants to compare today with 100 years ago, that someone HAS to use the same methodology as was used 100 years ago. Otherwise they are comparing apples to brass.
    The sunspot counters strive very hard to use the same method as a 100 years ago. SDO will have no influence on the count. The only real difference with NOAA’s count is that NOAA does not multiply by 0.6. If one did that there is no difference between the various counts within the noise. I don’t see a problem.

  25. Wolf did not really ‘reconstruct’ the Dalton minimum values as there was no data then. He tried to use auroral counts as a proxy, but we don’t really know within a factor of two what the sunspot number was then.

  26. “what will this do to the sunspot count?”
    Does it matter? The sun is behaving normally. It is the people who are going beserk.

  27. IBLS ( in before Leif Svalgaard ). Would someone please send a crashcart over to his house please, stat! 🙂
    Seriously though, establishing a comparable baseline to the historical earth based optical observations is an excellent idea, a no-brainer. The fact that there is any controvery proves that many modern scientists have no common sense. Good job Robert and Geoff!
    Sadly we will have to wait another 30 months to really get a feel for this cycle 🙁 I suggest people bookmark your ongoing graph, the direct url is …
    http://www.landscheidt.info/images/sc5_sc24.png
    It is nicely done, clearly labelled with good line/color selection. So clear in fact that you probably could fit all the cycles on there if you felt like it.
    I have one question though, as I have noticed how fast the sunspots rotate out of view on that little widget here at WUWT. Is it not possible that during the 1600-1700 timeframe when there were very few eyeballs actually observing spots that a week’s worth of cloud cover could have allowed some spots to have been missed? So theoretically your Layman count could end up being a just tad higher than that of a 17th century style observation (but of course you will still be way closer than the ultra high-tech count-every-spec approach).
    Perhaps as an experimental ‘control’ a few actual optical telescopes should be erected and utilized at the same locations as those used by those early pioneers.

  28. The SDO sunspot images are very nice indeed, and a welcome supplement to the old SOHO images. However, I would not say that images such as the 4096 image is particularly detailed. The image size is big, but that is not the same as resolution.
    Many amateur astronomers has for years been able provide similar resolution for sunspot images (admittedly with a smaller field of view), using standard amateur equipment, a webcam and free software. See for example my voyage to sunspot 649, August 12, 2004. These are simple backyard images.
    What will SDO do to sunspot counts? Not much if people go by the rules. The sunspot count is not supposed to be inferred from images taken from space. Sunspot counts are supposed to be based on visual observations from the ground, using small refractor telescopes like Wolf used. Somehow I suspect that the count is more influenced by ground based observatories that may be counting spots in images, and that is a whole different game compared to visual observation. I have tried both.

  29. Sunspots are a (pretty accurate) proxy for magnetic activity. Imagine that instead of having the zero base at the bottom of the sunspt cycle graph, a zero line through the approximate middle of the graph. Now you have something that looks like an alternating current graph. An AC will, at least here on earth, transfer energy from one coil (iron core helps) to another. What if the oscillations in solar magnetism could directly transfer energy to the earth through the magnet field in a similar same way. The frequency of the oscillations (sunspot cycles as a proxy) controls the efficiency of the transfer of energy…slowing the oscillations to the equivilant of DC cuurent, no energy is transfered…..just a thought.

  30. rbateman says:
    July 30, 2010 at 10:58 pm
    Geoff:
    The SDO images that Anthony links to, Red Channel gives the umbra, Blue Channel gives the Whole Spot, and Green Channel gives both.

    Hi Robert, I have been waiting for the SDO continuum images to be measurable, the SDO website is down me now, but perhaps they are getting close to something.

  31. So, let me see if I get this: The whole idea behind an artificially high count is nought but to dismiss the matter of the current Solar minimum as having an affect upon Earth’s weather.
    Whereas priorly, Sunspots were defined in a specific way understood by all whom were engaged in that field of endeavor, and because the current low number of those —conventionally counted— spots is seen as an indicator of likely affect, then those who’ve connived to counting what amounts grains of dust in order to influence matters, will now declare that there really is ‘no minimum’ and use that to detract from the argument put forth that a minimum is actually taking place, and having real affect.
    Isn’t that kinda sorta the same thing Mr. Mann did with the tree rings? He used them to erase the existence of the Medieval Warm Period and the follow-on Little Ice Age from the climate record.
    But then when the ‘decline’ started to go against even his own prognostication, why he ‘married’ the instrument record to the tree ring record and got his hockey stick. Yeah!
    So then, I see the very same thing happening here: By counting spurious blemishes on the Sun’s photosphere, and using them to artificially inflate the number of actual spots, the argument that there’s a minimum happening will be dismissed.
    So, I make the following prediction: With that artificial count in hand, there will no doubt be a paper forthcoming which will thence declare that:
    [1] No deep minimum is happening
    [2] No minimum in the past has ever affected Earth’s climate and weather patterns
    [3] Because of the higher count now made possible by ‘better’ technology, that the Sun is actually behaving just as it always has, and is in fact a steady-state source of energy, have little —if any— radical effect upon the Earth’s climate and weather, much beyond solar flares.
    [4] Any further talk about a Solar minimum will thence be dismissed as just so much pseudoscience put forth from the ‘deniers.’
    So, by attempting to take away our argument, they will expose their real mission and purpose.

  32. Whilst I never expected to get any kind of rational debate on this site I’m still amazed at the dogged determination of some people to trash “any” science.
    In fact if any of you science bashers had a simple lick of standard logic, much less higher science; you would realise that these results Intensify the current climate conclusions rather than deny them.
    [snip]
    Point1: MORE solar output is being reported for the SAME results monitored on the sun
    Point2: It is being reported that we are at the LOWEST solar output and solar minimum than the Maunder Minimum.
    Yes that is the LOWEST output with MORE output being reported.
    Then we come to the second part.
    We are reporting the highest temperatures ever recorded by humans
    We are reporting more “ice” loss (volume) than ever seen before
    People who grew up in hot countries and live with drought all their lives are dying of the excess heat.
    Scientists have constantly claimed that solar output is a FACTOR in climate change but NOT a MAJOR factor in Human Driven Climate Change.
    I’m just waiting for the solar output to peak in this 11 year cycle then we won’t have all these arguments about area/extent/volume. Because we won’t have any arctic ice in summer and the only two things we’ll be worried about is how much solar energy that open ocean can suck up and how little ice we have in WINTER.
    The only “guaranteed” way to replicate Wolf’s results and then map them to curernt equipment is to buy/build the exact same equipment Wolf used and then get Wolf to interpret the results. Because if he had left an exact formula, there wouldn’t be statements like
    “to try and represent a minimum counter like Wolf may have done 200 years”
    Try? May? All the hot air about KNOWING and being CERTAIN above and the statement is TRY and MAY.
    The IPCC is MUCH more certain than TRY and MAY.
    Welcome to the world of science.
    There is a reason why this site is called wcwt by people who tell the truth and know how to reason logic.

  33. Leif Svalgaard says:

    Dusty says:
    (actually dusty was quoting me)

    The sunspot counters strive very hard to use the same method as a 100 years ago. SDO will have no influence on the count. The only real difference with NOAA’s count is that NOAA does not multiply by 0.6. If one did that there is no difference between the various counts within the noise. I don’t see a problem.

    Well, I also don’t see a problem, but I see a potential problem. One thing that has been standing out over the last few years is dishonest use of raw data for confirmation bias. Since it’s so much easier to see smaller specks, some people seem to want to include them in a count.
    Obviously there is nothing wrong with that, increased resolution means increased details. The problem is when it comes to comparing data gathered with new technology to data gathered with old technology. They are not compatible.
    The same thing is happening in some other fields due to film vs. digital imagery. Film is grainy, dirty, warm, and analog, subject to vagaries, discontinuities and some randomness. Digital equipment can be extremely precise with very well understood spectrum response and repeatability in image gathering. If you want to compare a digital image with a film image you have to dirty it up and step away from the new technology, add grain, add randomness, etc.
    Sometimes new data gathering techniques make us completely forget about the uncertainty of older techniques, and we tend to assume that quality of data was always as good as what we’ve become accustomed to.

  34. Two points.
    A. Anthony, would you please arrange a sun page, along the lines of your excellent polar ice page? Including please Lief’s graphs as updated (I think the ones I have an address for are rather spasmodically updated).
    B. For most of us it’s a no-brainer to have the modern counts expressed in a way that enables some sort of comparison with the earlier max/minima. So Spots, Specks, Motes whatever. Equally obviously the new high res views is a must: it may enable someone to work out the underlying causes of sun thingies.

  35. SDO and SOHO images aren’t used for sunspot count als already mentioned many times here. Really disappointed in this articles. Looks a lot like AGW panic.

  36. This is a simple matter of setting a standard apparent angular size for sunspots in arc-seconds, based on the angular resolution of instruments used in the past to count them. If the angular size of a spot measures or exceeds “X” arc-seconds, then it should count. Nothing could be simpler jeez.
    The image below is the last one I photographed, back in 2005 – Sunspot #822 using a 76 mm telescope:
    http://www.josesuroeditorial.com/photos/56566196_ynhWc-X3-1.jpg

  37. NeilT says:
    “We are reporting the highest temperatures ever recorded by humans
    We are reporting more “ice” loss (volume) than ever seen before
    People who grew up in hot countries and live with drought all their lives are dying of the excess heat.”
    All three of those statements are wrong.
    Vostok, Law Dome, etc., show much higher temperatures in the geologic record.
    The Arctic has been ice-free in pre-SUV times.
    A 0.7°C increase in global temperature over the past 150 years is not killing anyone from the “excess heat.”

  38. Kirk Myers says:
    July 30, 2010 at 7:32 pm
    Geoff Sharp’s Landscheidt.org is a must-visit site. It offer a nice graphical comparison chart of SC5 (1798), SC14 (1902) and SC24 (2008) sunspot counts. Currently, SC24 numbers are tracking just under the SC5 count. SC5 marked the beginning of the Dalton Minimum (1790 -1830) and much colder global temperatures

    SC5 began in May 1798, See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solar_cycles
    so I’m not sure how SC5 marked the beginning of soething which began in 1790. On the subject of much colder temperatures during the Dalton Minimum, in this paper by David Archibald
    http://www.davidarchibald.info/papers/Solar%20Cycles%2024%20and%2025%20and%20Predicted%20Climate%20Response.pdf
    there is a graph by on Page 5 which shows 1770-1840 temperature data plots of CET, De Bilt and Oberlach. De Bilt and CET shoew tmepratures were just as low in the mid 1780s as they were throughout the Dalton Minimum period. Oberlacjh deos have a slightly sharper dip but this seems to coincide with the Tombura eruption in 1815.
    It seems that, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, earth’s climate was responding a decade or so before a solar grand minimum. I suppose you could call it a sort of negative lag time. Though, if we look at the CET record over a longer period. e.g.
    http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/
    We note there is nothing particularly remarkable about the 1790-1820 period. It’s the same story when we look a to other records such as Uppsala. Temperatures were half a degree or so below par in the early 19th century but that wasn’t unique to that period.

  39. Thank you Rob and Geoff.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6tV11acSRk&hl=en_US&fs=1]

  40. NOAA starts counting anything when it is a slow hurricane season.
    I wonder what they will count this year?
    They also have a habit of rounding up if they need another hurricane on the books.
    I wonder how they made this the hottest global year on record when we had a very cold winter and each month in the USA was not the top ranking for this decade?
    I wonder if somewhere in the world is some global warming alarmist is rubbing the thermometer?
    It is easy to have a high Accumulated Cyclone Energy count when the hurricanes float around at sea. Seems like a bogus formula.
    Hmmm!
    Paul Pierett

  41. RobW says:
    July 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm
    That was a rhetorical question right? Of course the team and co. will use the never before observable pin pricks in the count.

    Why would they do this? I cannot see the logic. Surely they’d like to take the opportunity to show that even with a low sunspot count we still get high temperatures. In fact, I’m a bit surprised that the more active propagandists aren’t pushing this already.

  42. The “tiny tims” of sunspots has arrived. I sure hope some group carries on with the old ways. Splicing data sets as technology changes has it’s downside.

  43. Geoff and Robert deserve our gratitude for this effort. Elitism is seemingly on the defensive everywhere?

  44. I think the future sunspot count should be done using the most accurate method. That said, it should also be done the way we’ve been doing it for the past 4 or so decades so we have a running record based on the same criteria.

  45. Leif Svalgaard says: July 30, 2010 at 11:14 pm
    The sunspot counters strive very hard to use the same method as a 100 years ago. SDO will have no influence on the count. The only real difference with NOAA’s count is that NOAA does not multiply by 0.6. If one did that there is no difference between the various counts within the noise. I don’t see a problem.
    Wolf did not really ‘reconstruct’ the Dalton minimum values as there was no data then. He tried to use auroral counts as a proxy, but we don’t really know within a factor of two what the sunspot number was then.

    Leif, you know these guys personally… are they like really high on caffeine much of the time? Or what?

  46. I have a suspicion that the duration of high or low sunspot numbers is more important than the actual numbers or the limit of their detection. For example, if you plot the duration of sunspots that are greater than, say, 100, you get distinct groupings.
    The last 50-60 years enjoyed (if that is the right word) prolonged periods of time when sunspot numbers were in excess of this threshold. Although the records do not go back a long way, the recent activity seems to be unique in the dataset.
    In the same way, you can plot the time during which sunspot numbers were below, say, 20 in number.
    While there is an expected similarity between the duration and SSN graphs, the duration groupings show that sunspot cycles are themselves grouped in cycles.
    I’m still playing around with different high and low thresholds. I’m sure a lot of people here can make much faster progress in looking at this duration idea and comparing it with other trends, such as temperature.
    The duration aspect may be important in a Svensmark type mechanism. The longer the effect lasts, the more heating or cooling is built up.

  47. Please, nobody tell the CRU, they will adjust the number of sunspots down to justify global warming. Mann will splice the data to give a hockey stick in the number of spots over time. The possibilities of this must be considered.

  48. In regard to:
    “RobW says:
    July 30, 2010 at 9:51 pm …..
    …In fact, I’m a bit surprised that the more active propagandists aren’t pushing this already.”
    R Gates already stresses this. “It should be colder than it is, so therefore it’s warmer than it is.”

  49. This new toy is the best to come around in a while. But as the more info comes in the more changes come. It is like building a airport around a MMTS station and then not taking that the jets have affected the local temperature. Just because one can look at something with better detail does not mean that the counts should change. To be consistent they still should be using the same methods that where in use 100 years ago to look at the sun for sunspot count with no change. Just like looking at a thermometer in which the surrounding have not changed in 100 years. This new toy just adds but should not change the count in anyway.

  50. I hope Geoff and I have managed to get a particularly troublesome point across:
    It is far better to measure than to count.
    You can derive a count from measurements, but you cannot reliably derive a measurement from a count.
    eg: I’m selling you a number of silver bars that weigh 5 lbs total. I’m charging you $900, do you like my offer?
    as opposed to: I have 4 silver bars, and I’m charging you $2000 for them. How confident are you now?

  51. Tjexcite says:
    July 31, 2010 at 9:29 am
    100 yrs ago, in 1910, Greenwich Royal Observatory was measuring umbra, whole spot and faculae with photoheliograms.

  52. NeilT says:
    July 31, 2010 at 2:09 am
    Scientists have constantly claimed that solar output is a FACTOR in climate change but NOT a MAJOR factor in Human Driven Climate Change.
    In fact if any of you science bashers had a simple lick of standard logic

    Perhaps you could enlighten us with some of your standard logic how the sun plays any role in ‘Human Driven Climate Change’.

  53. As a ham radio operator and DXer I only care about the 2800 MHz solar flux. They may be counting sun specs these days that distort the sunspot count compared to the past, but the solar flux is a measurement that hasn’t changed. The large swings in sunspot counts that I’ve seen in this cycle have not been accompanied by corresponding swings in the solar flux like I remember from previous cycles. I’ll believe cycle 24 is truly headed up when I see a steady climb in the solar flux. Numbers in the 70’s and 80’s are little more than bounces off the bottom in my book.

  54. Actually since August 1, 2001, SDIC has been undercounting spots by about 12%. So, the sunspot number reported is TOO LOW recently. I gave a presentation on that at the recent SHINE meeting http://shinecon.org/Current%20Meeting.htm
    Here is my contribution:
    http://www.leif.org/research/SHINE-2010-Microwave-Flux.pdf
    The notion that modern observers and organizations report a sunspot number that is too high is misplaced. This does not mean that adjustments of the very old data are not needed when we discover that such are justified by supplementary data, but there is no effort to ‘try to inflate the count’. There might be a layman effort on getting the count to be too low to support the notion that a Grand Minimum is coming.

  55. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 31, 2010 at 2:53 pm
    That is a very sore spot.
    The revision of old data is where we see abuse taking place.
    It’s better not to do such things.

  56. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 31, 2010 at 2:53 pm
    Actually since August 1, 2001, SDIC has been undercounting spots by about 12%. So, the sunspot number reported is TOO LOW recently. I gave a presentation on that at the recent SHINE meeting http://shinecon.org/Current%20Meeting.htm
    Here is my contribution:
    http://www.leif.org/research/SHINE-2010-Microwave-Flux.pdf
    The notion that modern observers and organizations report a sunspot number that is too high is misplaced. This does not mean that adjustments of the very old data are not needed when we discover that such are justified by supplementary data, but there is no effort to ‘try to inflate the count’. There might be a layman effort on getting the count to be too low to support the notion that a Grand Minimum is coming.

    You are all over the place Leif, when it suits your flat solar floor theory the sunspot count is 22% high. But when you want to use the L&P theory you make up your own F10.7 Flux values and state sunspots are moving away from flux and they are 12% too low.
    A grand minimum will happen regardless of who is counting.

  57. rbateman says:
    July 31, 2010 at 6:02 pm
    The revision of old data is where we see abuse taking place.
    It’s better not to do such things.

    Wolf himself adjusted his counts when he discovered that they were not correct, and one MUST adjust data that is known to be faulty. The ‘abuse’ notion is inappropriate.
    Geoff Sharp says:
    July 31, 2010 at 6:27 pm
    You are all over the place Leif, when it suits your flat solar floor theory the sunspot count is 22% high. But when you want to use the L&P theory you make up your own F10.7 Flux values and state sunspots are moving away from flux and they are 12% too low.
    It would be useful if you read the paper carefully. The 12% is what SIDC is lower than all the other sunspot counting organizations. The F10.7 values are not ‘my’ values, but is a composite agreed upon by the Japanese and Canadian observers. We have a paper coming out on this shortly.
    A grand minimum will happen regardless of who is counting.
    Indeed, eventually, but not this time.

  58. ian middleton says:
    July 31, 2010 at 3:18 pm
    And how are the corn prices going 🙂
    ___________________________________________
    Corn prices now depend on the whim of the cartels. It also depends on the country. If the nation has a lot of independent farmers the prices are very low to undercut the competition. Once the competition (independent farmers) is put out of business then the cartels can jack the prices up as high as the want since they have already driven out the competition. We already saw some of this in 2008 with prices doubling and food riots.
    Some of these sites have a conspiracy slant but the facts are true so just ignore the tin foil hat stuff and look for the facts. Unfortunately it is difficult to find articles with a lot of info that are unbiased.
    Global Food Cartel: Instrument for Starvation
    Corporate Agriculture vs. Family Farmers
    No End Seen to Cartel’s Destruction of Food Capacity
    Independent Farmers Feel Squeezed By Milk Cartel
    Control of food has been a military weapon for thousands of years. It was used by Stalin in the Ukraine and now it is being used again.

  59. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 31, 2010 at 6:59 pm
    Then you should prove that the individuals days were not counted/measured correctly, by making the drawings available.
    The results need to be independently verifiable, else the historical data stands.

  60. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 31, 2010 at 6:59 pm
    A grand minimum will happen regardless of who is counting.
    But you can help it come along by deliberately undercounting the spots [e.g. not count the small spots]. Perhaps that was the kind of ‘abuse’, Robert was referring to…

  61. rbateman says:
    July 31, 2010 at 8:07 pm
    The results need to be independently verifiable, else the historical data stands.
    As most of Wolf’s data is not based on drawings but on counts made by him or communicated to him, the data has to be independently verified by comparing with other things that directly depend on the sunspot number. A good example is the sunspot area. See http://www.leif.org/research/SPD-2009.pdf page 6. It shows a ~20% discontinuity in 1945 when Waldmeier took over the sunspot counting. You can, of course, claim that by chance the Greenwich observers changed their ways at just that time and that Waldmeier was correct and did not introduce a jump. Now, one swallow does not make a summer, so we look for more independent verifications and it turns out that there are at least six such. Again, you can claim that their historical records do NOT stand, but that only the SSN does. I’m sure that there are some people that would do just that [perhaps even you]. Me? I look at the total picture and incorporate all the solar data we have, coupled with whatever understanding we have of how they relate to each other.

  62. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 31, 2010 at 8:23 pm
    No, Leif, I do not say the historical count is bad or the historical measurements are wrong.
    I do ask for the drawings and the photoheliograms to examine digitally.
    If one or both jumped in 1947, then the evidence should clearly indicate that for all to see.
    Why leave doubt?

  63. rbateman says:
    July 31, 2010 at 8:48 pm
    I do ask for the drawings and the photoheliograms to examine digitally.
    If one or both jumped in 1947, then the evidence should clearly indicate that for all to see. Why leave doubt?

    What you are saying is that the people who made the observations did not know what they were doing. The Greenwich data is available somewhere, I’m sure. The Zurich data was not based on drawings, but on counts. I’m sure one can find the handwritten counts somewhere, digitize the numbers and let everyone see that when Max wrote ’42’ it really looks like a handwritten ’42’. The people who made the observations did their utmost best to leave us the processed data. Why doubt them?

  64. rbateman says:
    July 31, 2010 at 8:48 pm
    I do ask for the drawings and the photoheliograms to examine digitally.
    Here http://www.leif.org/EOS/Wolf-XXXVIII.pdf Wolf explains [on page 6] the rationale for increasing all sunspot numbers before his own [starting in 1849] by 25%. This is the kind of historical record we have. On the following page he reminds us: “The comparison of the tables, and even more striking the curves constructed from them, shows yet again the parallel run of the amplitude of the diurnal variation of the magnetic needle and the frequency of sunspots”.
    On page 21 you can see the format of Wolf’s data: for each day he gives two numbers like 4.7 for January 3, 1874. This means 4 groups with 7 spots, for a wolf number of 4*10+7 = 47. But since he had made the observations with his ‘pocket telescope’ he multiplies the 47 by 1.5 [his constant for that telescope] to get 70 [which you can find as the final result for Jan 3, 1874 on page 3. What you see here is the historical record.
    Take another example: May 11, 1874. Here Wolf records ‘3.11’, i.e. 3 groups with 11 spots for R=41, which then is multiplied by 1.5 [his ‘pocket telescope’] for a final of 61 [he rounds down]. Greenwich for that day had:
    http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/greenwch/g1874.txt
    1874 511.526 8500 1 0 58 0 100 0.957 265.4 248.7 -5.2 73.3
    1874 511.526 8600 2 8 384 4 196 0.177 15.3 172.7 7.1 -2.7
    1874 511.526 8700 7 98 807 52 427 0.328 104.1 156.7 -7.2 -18.7
    1874 511.526 8800 7 0 27 0 44 0.951 294.1 244.8 21.9 69.4
    and so on. The monthly means etc can easily be computed and compared [and I did that] to discover where jumps occur, and there is no ‘doubt’ as to these people doing the best they could: they could add, subtract, and even multiply.

  65. Wolf had a threshold, he didn’t count the smaller spots/specks. Is this threshold known and was it used in mixed groups? ie as we have seen recently a group can be made up of a few large spots and also scattered with many specks, were the specks of a group counted?

  66. Geoff Sharp says:
    July 31, 2010 at 10:56 pm
    Wolf had a threshold, he didn’t count the smaller spots/specks. Is this threshold known and was it used in mixed groups? ie as we have seen recently a group can be made up of a few large spots and also scattered with many specks, were the specks of a group counted?
    The problem with Wolf’s threshold is that it is not quantified [or even quantifiable], not even by himself. In http://www.leif.org/EOS/Wolf-XXXVIII.pdf you can see that in 1874 July 12, Wolf counted 5 groups with total 15 spots, Weber counted 10 groups with total 108 spots. And the Greenwich catalog lists 4 groups.
    For 1874 Jan 29, Wolf counted 4 groups with total 20 spots, while Weber saw 4 groups with 180 spots.
    Wolfer argued that this was much too vague and advocated [which ALL reasonable observers today follow] to count everything that was visible. Differences between observers could then be handled by the ‘constant’. To put in a threshold is to bias the count from the get-go and is VERY BAD PRACTICE, but may serve your purpose well.

  67. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 31, 2010 at 11:50 pm
    The problem with Wolf’s threshold is that it is not quantified [or even quantifiable], not even by himself.
    Wolfer argued that this was much too vague and advocated [which ALL reasonable observers today follow] to count everything that was visible. Differences between observers could then be handled by the ‘constant’. To put in a threshold is to bias the count from the get-go and is VERY BAD PRACTICE, but may serve your purpose well.

    Perhaps you should read your last statement and pause for a moment. What are we trying to achieve with the Layman’s Count?
    We are tying to count this cycle and maybe the next, the way Wolf counted/reconstructed so that (as everyone else seems to appreciate) we can compare this possible grand minimum event with the last. You may disagree that a grand minimum is happening, but the signs are ominous and its far easier to measure it now as it was done in the past, instead of retrospectively.
    Wolf obviously had his own threshold which appears to be lost to history, and you didn’t answer the question regarding the counting of specks in a larger group, so there is some vagueness. I think we have come up with a method that is close, which will allow proper comparison.

  68. I think the problem we’ve got in understanding solar activity goes much deeper than arguing about number of sun spots.
    Our observational history of the suns behaviour only goes back around 1000y with much of the early data being patchy, yet the sun has been in existence for about 4.5 billion years, so we have only seen a tiny fraction of our variable stars total gamut of behaviour.
    After a few more million years of observation we might actually know what goes on, rather than having to use guestimates based on short term data.

  69. Geoff Sharp says:
    August 1, 2010 at 3:15 am
    We are tying to count this cycle and maybe the next, the way Wolf counted/reconstructed so that (as everyone else seems to appreciate) we can compare this possible grand minimum event with the last.
    Wolf did not count [and neither did hardly anybody else] during the Dalton Minimum. He tried to guess the SSN using auroral frequency, magnetic needle, and a few scattered observations. So there is nothing to compare with.
    Wolf obviously had his own threshold which appears to be lost to history
    You can reconstruct the ‘threshold’ by taking a modern image with many spots/specks and then successively throw away the smaller ones until you get the SIDC count, or you can simply multiply by 0.6.
    and you didn’t answer the question regarding the counting of specks in a larger group, so there is some vagueness.
    The grouping is not important for this. As far as I can tell, a spot was/is counted no matter where it is. Hoyt & Schatten tried to sidestep the problem by not counting any spots at all, only the groups. They find for modern data that the Wolf number should be 12 times the number of groups. You could interpret this as one group on average having 11 spots/specks.
    I think we have come up with a method that is close, which will allow proper comparison.
    As far as I can tell, all the curves you show are identical within the noise, and you really should multiply the SWPC count by 0.6 to bring it to the same scale. What you are doing now is akin to plot Fahrenheit and Centigrade temperatures on the same graph and saying ‘see they are different’.
    You can make no real comparison with Dalton as the data simply aren’t there to do this, except in the crudest terms. The SSN back then is uncertain by a factor of two, even to the point where people claim [wrongly IMHO] there was an extra cycle that was lost.
    And don’t forget that the SIDC count is presently too low compared to everybody else who counts spots.
    One more time: there is no good data for the Dalton minimum. It matters not what Wolf’s threshold was as he was not observing. The magnetic needle data [the little we have] suggest that cycles 5 and 6 were small, see slides 9 and 14 of http://www.leif.org/research/H02-FRI-O1430-0550.pdf
    but we don’t really know how small with any precision. Cosmic ray data also suggests a small cycle http://www.leif.org/research/Solar-Activity-1785-1810.png but again with large uncertainty. In view of all this it seems pointless to try to degrade modern data to match observations that Wolf didn’t even make.

  70. M White says:
    August 1, 2010 at 6:42 am
    Daily Sun: 01 Aug 07

    “the downside is that even tiny sunspecks are now visible in exquisite detail.” Who needs sunspecks????

    But that’s just the point here, isn’t it?
    Why, with just a bit more power with which to observe, the pseudo-counters would actually be counting virtually the entirety of the photosphere anomalies of the Sun!
    There’s something there about ‘A little bit of knowledge is dangerous …’
    Give a kid a magnifying glass and he sets small fires. But give him a Fresnel lens and he’ll set the whole world ablaze!!!

  71. Leif Svalgaard says:
    July 31, 2010 at 9:15 pm
    The Greenwich data is available somewhere, I’m sure.

    The only data I can get ahold of is O’Gyalla and Haynald, http://fenyi.solarobs.unideb.hu/HHSD.html
    Beograd is also publicly available.
    ftp://ftp.ngdc.noaa.gov/STP/SOLAR_DATA/SOLAR_IMAGES/Beograd_WhiteLight_57to59/
    Wendelstein: ftp://ftp.ngdc.noaa.gov/STP/SOLAR_DATA/SOLAR_IMAGES/Full_Sun_Drawings/Wendelstein/
    If you have a case example that fits with the times of O’Gyalla/Haynald, let’s look at it.
    Greenwich is behind an expensive paywall, and no way to know what you are going to get before the $$ is laid down.

  72. rbateman says:
    August 1, 2010 at 9:00 am
    The only data I can get ahold of is O’Gyalla and Haynald
    As the Waldmeier jump was in ~1946 or so, we need data for ten years before that until ten years after that [at least]. I don’t see any benefit for us to try to second guess what Greenwich so carefully already have measured for us. We do have digital Ca II data back to 1915 and they fully confirm the Waldmeier jump. So, where is the problem?

  73. Leif Svalgaard says:
    August 1, 2010 at 11:22 am
    The problem is that Greenwich did not count the sunspots, they photographed & measured them.
    CaII data may have jumped, but that’s not the visible sunspot activity being photographed.
    CaII data is the faculae + network.
    So, if the CaII photographic data shows a jump/no jump, does that indicate that the reason has to be a counting change, or could it be an exposure/emulsion sensitivity jump, or a change in Solar behavior?
    I don’t have enough information at hand to say whether you are right or wrong.

  74. rbateman says:
    August 1, 2010 at 11:54 am
    So, if the CaII photographic data shows a jump/no jump, does that indicate that the reason has to be a counting change, or could it be an exposure/emulsion sensitivity jump, or a change in Solar behavior?
    It could be any of these, but since none of the other solar indices show a jump when Waldmeier took over, you have to either assume that they all jumped or that Waldmeier jumped. I prefer the latter.
    The digitization [and calibration] of the Mt. Wilson Ca II images is done is such a way that sensitivity changes are eliminated. The observers describe their procedure here:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1005.5402
    I don’t have enough information at hand to say whether you are right or wrong.
    Luckily, I have, and I have shared that with everybody.

  75. Leif Svalgaard says:
    August 1, 2010 at 12:33 pm
    I would rather not assume, but to see the images before and after Waldemeier, and compare them with the counts.
    So, let’s say it was Waldmeier. What then?
    If we change counts to make the discrepancy go away, it won’t do anything to prevent future or correct previous miscounts.
    If we derive the counts from measurements, the uncertainty will be reduced, and new detection technologies will not affect things the way they do now.
    Now, what if it wasn’t Waldmeier, but a Solar behavior change affecting only the visible?
    The counts are still not agreeing with the other indices, but they are correct.
    Is then the SSN doomed to wander in and out of correlation?
    Again, if the indice is derived from actual measurements, the SSN won’t be the only thing to go out of correlation.
    You can have your indice, and it will be more precise.

  76. rbateman says:
    August 1, 2010 at 5:01 pm
    I would rather not assume, but to see the images before and after Waldmeier, and compare them with the counts.
    That is what people have done. But please go ahead. Here are some pre-Waldmeier images:
    http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~ulrich/MW_SPADP/ExtractedImages/Webpages/Imagepages/Page384.html
    and here are some post-Waldmeier images:
    http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~ulrich/MW_SPADP/ExtractedImages/Webpages/Imagepages/Page477.html
    So, let’s say it was Waldmeier. What then?
    If we change counts to make the discrepancy go away, it won’t do anything to prevent future or correct previous miscounts.

    First, these are not ‘miscounts’, they were the best, experienced, and conscientious observers could do. That the series are not homogeneous is a fact of life [it is difficult] and that problem will always be with us. But there will always be careful scientists [like yours truly] that will keep an eye on this and do their best to maintain the scientific values of our long-term series.
    Now, what if it wasn’t Waldmeier, but a Solar behavior change affecting only the visible?
    L&P might be a sign of this being possible, but in case of Waldmeier, I think the case is clear enough. He even himself expressed doubt that he might not have gotten it right.
    The counts are still not agreeing with the other indices, but they are correct.
    The counts are meaningless without the circumstances of their production [person, telescope, seeing, etc]. So they are correct, but meaningless numbers in themselves. Here is a correct number: “42”.
    Is then the SSN doomed to wander in and out of correlation?
    Nobody cares about the SSN as such. What we are after is a reasonable measure of solar activity. The SSN can be such a measure to a degree. We have found that the calibration is not simple or constant, but we can manage that and still construct a measure of solar activity by careful attention to detail and using all available information. What is a bit frustrating is the resistance to such efforts [e.g. “the historical record stands”]
    The silly thing to do is to try to compare with observations that Wolf didn’t even make, etc. It is, of course, necessary to also take into account peoples’ agendas and reasons for doing this. As scientists [such as myself] we do the very best that can be done with available material.

  77. L&P might be a sign of this being possible, but in case of Waldmeier, I think the case is clear enough. He even himself expressed doubt that he might not have gotten it right.
    We won’t know that with CaII images as above. I too have considered that Waldmeier might have witnessed a change in visible Solar Activity, and not known about it. The early Sunspot observers had no idea that sunspots were a regular phenomenon when they disappeared in the Maunder.
    Nobody cares about the SSN as such. What we are after is a reasonable measure of solar activity. The SSN can be such a measure to a degree. We have found that the calibration is not simple or constant, but we can manage that and still construct a measure of solar activity by careful attention to detail and using all available information. What is a bit frustrating is the resistance to such efforts [e.g. “the historical record stands”]
    A reasonable measure would be to measure and derive the SSN accordingly. At the very least, for the modern photographic record, the SSN would be much less prone to the human element.
    First, these are not ‘miscounts’, they were the best, experienced, and conscientious observers could do. That the series are not homogeneous is a fact of life [it is difficult] and that problem will always be with us.
    Miscounts as in counting ever tinier spots (that Wolf was afraid would happen) and whoops, there goes the consistency.
    Is this not the topic- Sunspots at high detail now available from SDO – what will this do to the sunspot count?
    No available photoheliograms from Greenwich = out of sight, and out of mind. ‘Tis a shame, if you ask me, to let a treasure go to waste.

  78. rbateman says:
    August 1, 2010 at 9:36 pm
    We won’t know that with CaII images as above. I too have considered that Waldmeier might have witnessed a change in visible Solar Activity, and not known about it. The early Sunspot observers had no idea that sunspots were a regular phenomenon when they disappeared in the Maunder.
    Visible solar activity is irrelevant [with the possible exception of TSI]. The UV is where the action is. It is highly unlikely that Waldmeier saw a change in sunspots. The Greenwich areas do not show this [and they were visible too].
    A reasonable measure would be to measure and derive the SSN accordingly. At the very least, for the modern photographic record, the SSN would be much less prone to the human element.
    Almost everybody does a good job measuring the SSN. The human element is not so important; seeing is the main culprit.
    Miscounts as in counting ever tinier spots (that Wolf was afraid would happen) and whoops, there goes the consistency.
    Wolf was not afraid of this, he just realized that going back into the [for him] historical record he would not get the tiny spots. Wolfer was right: all spots must be counted, no matter how small. There is no disagreement anymore on this. Consistency is impossible with wolf’s method. Only by counting all spots can we gain consistency. The problem of correcting Wolf’s ‘miscounts’ can be solved by calibrating [as Wolf did himself] the SSN using the geomagnetic data.
    So, here is my recommendation:
    1) count all spots/specs/pores [i.e. NO threshold]
    2) calculate SSN = k*10*(Groups+Spots), to retain the simple, original formula [k=1 for official count].
    3) update Wolf’s counts to the modern scale, by multiplying the Rz,i by the inverse of 0.6, namely 1.667.
    4) fix the various glitches that have been identified” Wolf-Wolfer ~1880. Brunner-Waldmeier 1945, Zurich-Brussels 1981, 1 August 2001
    Then we have consistency, and we can preserve the precious historical record.
    Is this not the topic- Sunspots at high detail now available from SDO – what will this do to the sunspot count?
    I don’t think it will do anything, as the number of tiny specks does not increase beyond a certain resolution which many observers already have.

  79. Geoff Sharp says:
    August 2, 2010 at 1:24 am
    NOAA(prelim) 23.5
    SIDC 16.1

    You should really multiply the NOAA count by 0.6 to bring it onto the same same scale as the others. Not doing so is akin to reporting the temperatures in New York and Brussels as 85 and 24.
    Lots of specks counted this month.
    As they should be.

  80. Leif Svalgaard says:
    August 2, 2010 at 3:53 am
    You should really multiply the NOAA count by 0.6 to bring it onto the same same scale as the others. Not doing so is akin to reporting the temperatures in New York and Brussels as 85 and 24.
    Lots of specks counted this month.
    As they should be.

    Yes Leif most of us are aware NOAA are doing their own thing, but what you are missing is that the 0.6 factor post Wolfer might be in the ballpark during normal solar activity but fails miserably when the speck ratio changes in times of solar downturn.

  81. Leif Svalgaard says:
    August 2, 2010 at 3:53 am
    The informed might know…but do you think the general public discounts the NOAA sunspot value when reading spaceweather .com or indeed the widget Anthony displays on this website?

  82. Geoff Sharp says:
    August 2, 2010 at 7:58 am
    Yes Leif most of us are aware NOAA are doing their own thing
    They do NOT do their own thing, they count just like the rest of the world.
    but what you are missing is that the 0.6 factor post Wolfer might be in the ballpark during normal solar activity but fails miserably when the speck ratio changes in times of solar downturn.
    You language here is designed to spread FUD [fail, miserably] and does not have any factual contents.
    If one compares NOAA and SIDC the past 20 years http://www.leif.org/research/NOAA-vs-SIDC.png is is evident that the 0.6 factor is applicable at all levels of solar activity from the peak in 1991 to the bottom in 2008.
    The yellow and green dots depict the ratio SIDC/NOAA and have an average of 0.64, independent of solar activity. It is, of course, also clear that the scatter is larger when the SSNs are very small. This is normal statistical behavior when you divide a small number by another small number.
    If there is any difference it is the 12% drop between the yellow and green drops that is the result of SIDC undercounting spots by that amount, as I have already pointed out [slide 13 of http://www.leif.org/research/SHINE-2010-Microwave-Flux.pdf ].
    Geoff Sharp says:
    August 2, 2010 at 8:44 am
    The informed might know…but do you think the general public discounts the NOAA sunspot value when reading spaceweather .com or indeed the widget Anthony displays on this website?
    They should not discount the NOAA values as they are quite OK [probably better than SIDC, actually], anymore than they should discount temperatures measured in Fahrenheit over those measured in Centigrade.
    You should realize that to make the two series comparable, they should be expressed in the same units, so either you multiply NOAA by 0.6 or you increase SIDC by 1.67. Claiming that the two series are somehow different and that that is a severe problem that cries out for a ‘solution’ is misleading the general public.

  83. Leif Svalgaard says:
    August 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm
    You have lost me. The story on Wolf vs Wolferer is not standing still.
    Either Wolf preferred to measure rather than count, or he did not.
    Either Wolf was right (as you have repeatedly told us) or he was not.
    Now Wolferer is right.
    Please clarify.

  84. rbateman says:
    August 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm
    You have lost me. The story on Wolf vs Wolferer is not standing still.
    Either Wolf preferred to measure rather than count, or he did not.
    Either Wolf was right (as you have repeatedly told us) or he was not.
    Now Wolferer is right.
    Please clarify.

    1) Wolf did not measure [he could not because he wanted to use older observations that were not his own], so he counted. He decided not to count pores and specks [mostly because older observers (e.g. Swabe) didn’t]. To compare other observers with his own for times prior to 1849 he compared them to the magnetic needle [that was the ‘being right’ part] and compared his own to the magnetic needle as well. Having the common standard [the magnetic needle] allowed him to bring everybody else on to his standard.
    2) Determination of what is a pore or a speck is too vague just based on a verbal description [“it is smallish”], so Wolfer adopted to count everything. This is a clearcut definition that everybody can follow. And everybody has since then agreed that this was the better method. [so Wolfer was right on that].
    3) Counting everything obviously leads to a count that is higher than you would get if you don’t count the small fry. Using the same telescope and site [seeing] as Wolf, Wolfer determined [from ten years of overlapping data at both high and low solar activity] that to bring his all-inclusive counts onto the same scale as Wolf’s, he had to multiply by 0.6. This is just a scale factor, in the same way as measuring temperature differences in Fahrenheit gives you numbers that you have to rescale [multiply by 5/9] to get Centigrade. Both temperature scales are ‘right’, but when comparing you have to rescale, of course. For some reason, some people have a hard time understanding this.
    4) NOAA decided to keep the simple Wolf formula because it is just that: ‘simple’, three groups with 25 spots give you a SSN of 10*3+25=55. Straightforward. Some people think this is somehow ‘going their own way’. It is not, it is just using a different scale, like degrees F vs. degrees C. My plot at http://www.leif.org/research/NOAA-vs-SIDC.png shows the 0.6 factor in action and that it applies across the board.
    5) The simplicity of all this is so overwhelming that it pains me to have to spell out the obvious again and again.
    6) so, to get onto a common scale [otherwise you cannot make any comparisons]m multiply counts of everything by 0.6 to be able to compare them to counts omitting pores. NOAA does not do this [as SIDC does], so we must do it for them if we want to compare NOAA with SIDC. Therefore plotting raw NOAA and SIDC values on the same graph in order to ‘compare’ them to see which is ‘better’ is at best silly and at worst deceptive. To plot them in order to show that there is just on average a constant [within the noise] factor between them is, of course, legit.

  85. rbateman says:
    August 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm
    Does resolution matter when contrast is low?
    http://www.robertb.darkhorizons.org/Count.jpg
    Taken from SDO/ AIA-4500 20100802_160008

    As long as you count what you see, it doesn’t matter. But any difference can be accounted for by the ‘personal’ factor. The correct Wolf formula should really be:
    SSN = k * (s * (10*G+S)), where s is 1 or 0.6 depending on what scale you want the SSN to be on. And k takes into account the telescope and the person doing the counting.
    As pores and specks can be no smaller than a granule [about 1.5″], otherwise they could be destroyed by the vigorous convection, driving the resolution higher will not reveal any more spots, pores, or specks. Now, there are probably ever smaller granules between [and within] the ones we can readily see with no minimum size, but these are too short-lived to harbor magnetic fields strong enough to make the appear dark. So, higher resolution should not increase the SSN. Of course, if the contrast becomes too low [e.g. a la L&P] we can’t see anything, but the important thing it that this limit would be quantifiable and could be accounted for, or least be a known factor in evaluating the index.

  86. Geoff Sharp says:
    August 2, 2010 at 7:58 am
    but what you are missing is that the 0.6 factor post Wolfer might be in the ballpark during normal solar activity but fails miserably when the speck ratio changes in times of solar downturn.
    now, you could mean that in general, the speck to group ratio changes a lot with solar activity. Wolfer [and Wolf self] was initially of the opinion that the ratio should increase slightly with the size of the sunspot number. Wolfer’s careful analysis in 1894 showed, however, the following result: [year, SSN, ratio]

    1877, 12, 0.84
    1878, 3, 0.78
    1879, 6, 0.67
    1880, 32, 0.75
    1881, 54, 0.68
    1882, 60, 0.65
    1883, 64, 0.59
    1884, 63, 0.53
    1885, 52, 0.55
    1886, 25, 0.56
    1887, 13, 0.51
    1888, 7, 0.46
    1889, 6, 0.62
    1890, 7, 0.48
    1891, 36, 0.55
    1892, 73, 0.63
    1893, 85, 0.53
    mean, 35, 0.61

    There is no correlation (a slight decrease, but with R^2=0.025) between SSN and the scale factor. So Wolfer felt justified in using the constant factor 0.6 [the dropping of the second decimal in conformance with the uncertainty].
    Now, very recently, it is quite likely that the L&P effect will wreak havoc with all this and invalidate the many ‘facts’ that have been taken for granted over the years.
    Bottom line: you can benefit a lot from taking to heart the detailed knowledge I have of these things.

  87. Leif Svalgaard says:
    August 2, 2010 at 4:15 pm
    So, higher resolution should not increase the SSN

    It shouldn’t, but due to use of further technological aids, what one sees is not uniform, given that some with far superior optics are routinely outdone by those with inferior optics (and no change in seeing).
    If a teacher caught a student using an electronic device to answer questions on a test, that student would and should be failed.
    I am not alone in noticing evidence of resorting to undisclosed means, when it comes to counting what is “seen”.

  88. rbateman says:
    August 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm
    I am not alone in noticing evidence of resorting to undisclosed means, when it comes to counting what is “seen”.
    Now you lost me. Everybody sees the same thing. There is nothing ‘undisclosed’.
    Geoff Sharp says:
    August 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm
    You say L&P, I say grand minimum, and glad you recognize the havoc caused by the speck ratio change. Wolfer never experienced a grand minimum.
    Yeah, all the spots will turn into specks, but because a spot and the speck count for the same, nothing might change, until the specks fall below 1500 Gauss, and go ‘poof’. This is was makes you glad? Good to hear.

  89. rbateman says:
    August 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm
    Leif Svalgaard says:
    It shouldn’t, but due to use of further technological aids, what one sees is not uniform
    this has always been the case, and is taken care of by the constant ‘k’, so the sunspot number stays technology independent.

  90. Geoff Sharp says:
    August 2, 2010 at 8:18 pm
    You say L&P, I say grand minimum.
    With L&P the ratio between large spots and specks [Large/Specks] will grow larger and larger, as the specks will disappear, until in the end only large spots remain and the sunspot number will be very small. This is what you call a Grand Minimum. I’ll agree with that.

  91. Leif Svalgaard says:
    August 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm
    this has always been the case, and is taken care of by the constant ‘k’, so the sunspot number stays technology independent.

    Don’t think so. Sorry, Leif, but there are those out there who play shell games under cover of ‘k’.
    It is most distressing to see these things go on, and very sad. Most are honest.
    You know what they say about a few bad apples in a barrel.

  92. rbateman says:
    August 2, 2010 at 11:12 pm
    Don’t think so. Sorry, Leif, but there are those out there who play shell games under cover of ‘k’. It is most distressing to see these things go on, and very sad. Most are honest. You know what they say about a few bad apples in a barrel.
    I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. There are enough amateur organizations counting spots [including myself] that it is impossible to play any shell games. There may now and then be human errors or factors, but these are invariably uncovered and corrected. For example, SIDC have changed their algorithm slightly in August 2001 with the result that they now undercount the sunspots by 12%. This will be corrected in due time, unless I run into a ‘the historical record stands’ mentality.
    Don’t assume that malice is at play when simple incompetence is enough.

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