The sun is still in a slump – still not conforming to NOAA "consensus" forecasts

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) produced their monthly solar cycle progression update yesterday. The news is not encouraging. We’ve had a drop in solar activity again in December, The sunspot count is lower, but the really worrisome thing is the Ap geomagnetic index. The solar dynamo has now dropped to magnetic activity levels last seen in late 2009. Readers may recall this post from December 23rd: Solar Geomagnetic Ap Index Hits Zero which was a bit unusual this far into cycle 24.

Here’s the Ap Index from SWPC:

The Ap value of 3 was last seen in late 2009 and early 2010, which bracketed the lowest value seen in 10 years (on the SWPC graph) of Ap=2 in December 2009. It was also the lowest value in the record then. SWPC has since revised their data upwards from 1 to 2 for December 2009. Here’s what it looked like then:

And here is the story at that time:

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

The 10.7 centimeter radio flux is a bit more encouraging, but still rather anemic compared to where to where it should have been in the solar cycle.

Here’s the data:

The last major update to NOAA’s prediction came in May 2009 when they wrote:

May 8, 2009 — The Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel has reached a consensus decision on the prediction of the next solar cycle (Cycle 24). First, the panel has agreed that solar minimum occurred in December, 2008. This still qualifies as a prediction since the smoothed sunspot number is only valid through September, 2008. The panel has decided that the next solar cycle will be below average in intensity, with a maximum sunspot number of 90. Given the predicted date of solar minimum and the predicted maximum intensity, solar maximum is now expected to occur in May, 2013. Note, this is a consensus opinion, not a unanimous decision. A supermajority of the panel did agree to this prediction.

It seems to be time again for an update, since it seems likely that the “consensus prediction” has failed.

The Livingston and Penn data (from Dr. Leif Svalgaard) continues unabated and on track for sunspots to become invisible when the umbral magnetic field reaches ~1500 gauss.

Livingston and Penn paper: “Sunspots may vanish by 2015″.

But the rest of the world is now just getting around to realizing the significance of the work Livingston and Penn are doing related to sunspots. Science ran with a significant story: Say goodbye to sunspots

Here’s a prominent excerpt:

The last solar minimum should have ended last year, but something peculiar has been happening. Although solar minimums normally last about 16 months, the current one has stretched over 26 months—the longest in a century. One reason, according to a paper submitted to the International Astronomical Union Symposium No. 273, an online colloquium, is that the magnetic field strength of sunspots appears to be waning.

Scientists studying sunspots for the past 2 decades have concluded that the magnetic field that triggers their formation has been steadily declining. If the current trend continues, by 2016 the sun’s face may become spotless and remain that way for decades—a phenomenon that in the 17th century coincided with a prolonged period of cooling on Earth.

We live in interesting times.


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I really love it when nature refuses to do what arrogant humans ‘want’ it to do!


The Sun does not have any Political alignment.
It does not care what the consensus is.
it will do whatever, and it shows that we know very little about it, since when ‘they’ say it should be higher and it isn’t, show us we need more money for research before we go gang busters over some trace gas called CO2….


Remove all the nanospots that were added to the count and that the sun should almost be a flat-liner.

Someone needs to tell Sol to shape up or ship out


I don’t want to pile on the solar scientists, but this went past embarrassing a long time ago.
And the sun is something we’ve been studying much longer than climate, and with quite a few less variables involved.
Should be an object lesson for all of science that yes, they’ve come a long way, but just a fraction of the total distance. Most of them seem to get fixated on the former, and miss the later. It’s called hubris.

Polar fields are on course for max around 2012
Polar field equation (updated from 2003/4) predicted long lasting slump, at least 2 more cycles.
L&P effect has bottomed out and is not explaining anything exept that sun’s magnetic field grows weaker at periods of low cycles, so probably it was there in 1910, and 1810.
On the other hand high predictors may use it as a handy excuse for their failure.

Solar cooling….


Don’t know why folk are worried about the Sun, like that’s got anything to do with climate or weather (oops sorry I still had the sarcastic lock on my keyboard on!)…

Mike Haseler

Just what does “a low sunspot count” mean?
… anything between “nothing to see here” and “the beginning of the next iceage”.
The only thing we know for sure is that solar activity is not man-made, but as that’s never stopped the idiots in the eco-numbskull brigade from creating propaganda, I’m sure it won’t be long before we see: “man-made sunspot decrease!”

AGW is infectuous? How many other bodies in the solar system will be adversely affected by man’s continued disregard to the environment?


Because of “settled science” being defined by “consensus”, that latter word has now become a standing joke in our house. “It is the consensus view”, announces my wife “that you will not be getting a glass of sherry before dinner.” And then she pours it.


The Livingston & Penn “B Gauss” graph looks like it’s trending to reach 1500 in around 2020 but earlier graphs they’ve drawn ( show 2015. Have they changed their prediction from 2015 to 2020?

Mike Campbell

“From the dawn of time, Man has yearned to destroy the Sun!”
— Montgomery Burns


I do not like the way NASA separates the actual data year average by six months from the predicted average curve. I wish they would extend the red prediction curve back six months before present so that we can see the predicted values for the next six months. The way it is now there is a six month gap.
Of course, this would reveal the error in their prediction, which they don’t want revealed.

G. E. Pease

The only part of the latest official ISES SSN prediction that might be right is the 2013 time of cycle 24 peak activity. If that is true, however, the peak ISES SSN is likely to be 60 or less. Just drop NOAA/SWPC’s ISES SSN prediction curve from 2011 to 2017 down 30 points to visualize what this might look like. Spotless again in 2017, probably.

My own theory is that solar activity is a lagging indicator of hemlines.

James H

“Note, this is a consensus opinion, not a unanimous decision. A supermajority of the panel did agree to this prediction.”
See, the supermajority overrides the sun’s veto power, so it now must conform to the panel’s decree. If it doesn’t, it will be seized and removed from power forcibly. Then we’ll elect a new sun from some other star system or something.


Oh my, and all those silly cosmic rays too. You would think that they might have something to do with clouds or something.


CO2 just HAS to have something to do with this.
As a ham radio operator – I’m starting to get depressed.

Dan… Is that your theory… or your hope?


I’m sure some algorian politician will say mankind is to blame.


One implication of this is that you will be unable to use the excuse “it’s the Sun” to explain the continuing global warming over the coming decade.


“Solar physicist David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, agrees but with a caveat. “It’s an important paper,” he says. But the sunspot magnetic field calculations don’t take into account a lot of small sunspots that appeared during the last solar maximum. Those sunspots have weaker magnetic fields, which, if not included, could make the average sunspot magnetic field strength seem higher than it really was.”
Some cherries, some pie… ;-(


“It’s the PDO” has also bolted as an explanation. Can anyone tell me what the skeptic argument will be if the world continues warming (I say ‘if’ but I am quite sure it will) despite a negative PDO and a deep solar minimum (well we’ve already had that any look at 2010 temperatures!)?


Why do you say that the L&P effect has bottomed out?
It looks pretty linear to me, heading towards zero.


@Dan Collins,
Hemlines and cleavage. Don’t forget cleavage.

Laurie Bowen

At least NOAA and others watch, count and graph . . . since . . . a picture is worth a thousand words.
There is this graph of Sunspot numbers that appears to the same one I printed for myself years ago. . .
and then there is this one which is not as visually appealing
But. . . both charts demonstrate that there are “variations in the variation”.
Gosh, I hope this is not a national secret!

Laurie Bowen

. . . .

Question. Is there some measure for sunspots analogous to ACE for hurricanes? That would seem to be a more usable number of relative sunspot activity than just counting spots.


onion, what warming and how do you measure it? GHCN? LOL

I have another little irritant for a bunch of solar scientists: their reconstruction of solar magnetic field is a ‘no-no’, or they will be faced with a proof of a powerful Sun – Earth magnetic link.
field strong enough to control the Arctic temperatures, and from there most of Northern Hemisphere’s climate.
Link 1 and Link 2


Curious says: Have they changed their prediction from 2015 to 2020?
More or less yes they did. At that time there was too much critic how they achieved this. So they extend their observations and made the timeframe wider and later.
Under pressure everything becomes flexible.
However the trend remains and as it looks now the maximum will be in 2012 with ssn
30(smoothed)35(peak) and the radio flux 90(smoothed)95(peak). According L/P the expected ssn in 2015 is around 10-15.


Can anyone tell me what the skeptic argument will be if the world continues warming

The argument will be: “it’s little understood natural variability, not the trace gas CO2”.

Sean Houlihane

I like the F10.7, it removes the arguments about that should be counted. When the dust has settled, we can maybe go back and see how the spot count has fared since it seems likely there are some new effects here.
Onion is quite sure of his facts, but seems to miss the point that some of us expect changes for reasons which are not yet clearly identified. Being able to better quantify any solar effect has to be good. In the sense that an 11 year cycle is not very clear in the data, we are only just at the point where the current cycle might appear to be low anyway. IFF it is a factor, the effect may take the rest of the cycle to notice – by which time the causality ought to have been observed. Interesting times indeed.


Maybe Leif it is time to introduce Ms. Janet Luhmann to the group here and what she had to say at the AGU Fall meeting of 2009 about the higher order spherical harmonics and their relationship to PFSS potential source surface fields. Reason being we gots no polar fields so might as well talk about source surface fields.
Excerpt AGU 2009 SF
Presentation Janet Luhmann starts 43:24 min into program
“Mapping the Sun’s Atmosphere into Interplanetary Space:
How recent changes in the solar dynamo are affecting the solar wind around us.”
In addition, the higher order spherical harmonics contributions to the surface field are
relative to the dipole
than in the previous two cycles.
The traditional picture of the solar minimum solar wind emphasizes the idea of a dipolar corona and outputs from polar coronal hole sources that diverge to fill interplanetary space.
The solar wind density and interplanetary field both depend in part on the coronal hole areas.
The field also depends on the amount of photospheric flux that maps out of those areas.
Have coronal hole areas and the inferred flux that maps out changed this minimum?
The Potential Field Source Surface (PFSS) coronal field model allows global approximations to the coronal holes and interplanetary field for any surface field distrubution. The model captures the persistent low latitude coronal holes producing the recent solar ecliptic wind.
I wish people would expunge from text books all these stricltly dipolar solar wind pictures! Because they’re not generally applicable. There are times like the preseent where the solar wind really has low latitude sources that are;
dominating the ecliptic,
dominating our solar activity,
dominating what we are measuring upstream of the earth.
Another thing we found was that, we had to move the surface source of this potential field, source surface model, closer to the sun, in the past it had been fixed to assume 2.5 solar radii. (1.5-1.8 vs 2.5 solar radii)”””

Bob Barker

Predicting solar cycle 24 has been a real bear. See:
Predicting climate change is a lot easier since it is all so vague. Tipping points and disasters to be named later.

onion says:
January 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm (Edit)
“It’s the PDO” has also bolted as an explanation. Can anyone tell me what the skeptic argument will be if the world continues warming (I say ‘if’ but I am quite sure it will) despite a negative PDO and a deep solar minimum (well we’ve already had that any look at 2010 temperatures!)?

2010 temperatures were dominated by an el nino which took two years to build. I would estimate that the ocean cooling currently under way will continue well into this year. I have predicted -0.32 +/- 0.05 by September on Roy Spencer’s metric. Temperature will end up lower than the low point before the last El nino started to build because heat content i n the topp 700m of ocean has fallen since 2003 when the sun went below 40SSN. The lag is thought to be around 7.5 years, so from June, global surface temp will start to tumble.
If I thought you had any money I’d offer you a bet.

Stephen Wilde

Is there any data as to any changes in the constituents, density or speed of the solar wind (photons and particles) between a period of high solar activity with lots of visible sunspots and a period of high solar activity when the L & P effect is in full force and no sunspots are visible despite their presence?
I hesitate to suggest that the the sun is genuinely less active when the sun merely appears to be less active because Leif often tells us that there is little or no effect on TSI or activity levels when sunspots are rampant as compared to when they are invisible (but still present) due to the L & P effect.
Has anyone decided whether the Maunder Minimum was genuinely a low sunspot period or whether it was just an earlier example of the now named L & P effect ?
I noted a previous comment in the earlier thread that the progress of the L & P effect is ‘independent’ of the usual 11 year (approx) solar cycle. That would be just what we need to explain climate changes on a 1000 year climate cycle from MWP to LIA to date without having to worry about lack of reliable correlations with the 11 year solar cycle.
We could well have four entirely different solar states to consider as opposed to just the normal two, namely active with visible sunspots, inactive with no visible sunspots, active with invisible sunspots and inactive with no invisible sunspots.
Curiouser and curiouser.


Who’s been monkeying around with the Galactic Dimmer Switch? 😉

All NOAA and the worshipers in the Church of AGW have to do is read the works of Theodor Landscheidt and the Journal of Cosmology, 2010, Vol 8, 1983-1999, The Forthcoming Grand Minimum of Solar Activity, S. Duhau and C. de Jager, to understand that the warming is over. We are entering a Little Ice Age, and meager CO2 increases from oceanic outgassing cannot slow it down one iota. Prepare for the brutal cold that awaits us in the winters of the next many decades.

These people are so brainwashed they have so subtly insert credence to the global warming science-via-consensus philosophy by stating that such decision-making is the norm in science.
Personally, I hope the world cools dramatically, I love the cold weather and such an event will hopefully wake up millions of people not only to the AGW lie but to other lies they’ve been told by the same people over the years (economic myths in particular).
It really could start a new Enlightenment.


‘Can anyone tell me what the skeptic argument will be if the world continues warming ‘
I don’t believe anyone shows any warming since 1998. The word “continues” is misleading in this context as it would imply that we are experiencing warming. We aren’t.
Yes, there certainly was warming between 1976 and 1998, but I don’t have any evidence of any warming since that time.


January 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm


@ Onion: the “sceptic argument” will at least address true data, not fiddled GISS figures adjusted post hoc so that a warming trend always appears.
And please don’t trouble to come back until the warming you are so sure of approaches levels in the MWP. Take your time now …

when looking at the solar polar fields, be aware that
“[7] The polar field reversal is caused by unipolar magnetic flux from lower latitudes moving to the poles, canceling out opposite polarity flux already there, and eventually establishing new polar fields of reversed polarity [Harvey, 1996]. Because of the large aperture of the WSO instrument, the net flux over the aperture will be observed to be zero (the ‘‘apparent’’ reversal) about a year and a half before the last of the old flux has disappeared as opposite polarity flux moving up from lower latitudes begins to fill the equatorward portions of the aperture.”
You can see the polar field evolution as the second Figure
Reasonable extrapolation puts the apparent reversal past 2012, so the real maximum will probably be 2014. If Livingston&Penn are correct there might not be any visible spots, but their magnetic fields will still be there, we will still have a solar wind, and cosmic ray modulation. Already, the sunspot number is running way below it should be for the F10.7 values:


“Can anyone tell me what the skeptic argument will be if the world continues warming …”
Continues? When does it start?
There has been no statistically significant ‘global warming’ in 20 years. Or so says Phil Jones. We still are worshipping Phil, arent we?

Leif Svalgaard says:
January 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm
You can see the polar field evolution as the second Figure

Don B

Tallbloke, speaking of bets, I can’t wait until 2017. In 2005 Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev bet climate modeler James Annan $10,000 that the globe would be cooler in 2012-2017 than it was 1998-2003.

hotrod ( Larry L )

onion says:
January 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm
“It’s the PDO” has also bolted as an explanation. Can anyone tell me what the skeptic argument will be if the world continues warming (I say ‘if’ but I am quite sure it will) despite a negative PDO and a deep solar minimum (well we’ve already had that any look at 2010 temperatures!)?
Sure — we don’t know!
It is probably the same mechanism that has been warming the planet for about 10,000 years, and CO2 levels have nothing to do with it.