The smallest sunspot cycle in two hundred years

I missed this earlier this week from NASA, I got a bit distracted with other things.

Sixty two – that’s the new number from Hathaway on April 4th, have a look:

They write at NASA MSFC

Current prediction for the next sunspot cycle maximum gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 62 in July of 2013. We are currently over two years into Cycle 24. The predicted size would make this the smallest sunspot cycle in nearly 200 years.

It’s quite a climbdown for Dr. Hathaway from his earlier predictions. Let’s give him credit for not trying to “hide the decline”.

 

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Anthony,
Thanks for posting this. I’ve been checking it daily and the other ‘projections’ just
do not want to have anything to do with the data. Cheers.

Charlie A

NASA says “Predicting the behavior of a sunspot cycle is fairly reliable once the cycle is well underway (about 3 years after the minimum in sunspot number occurs ”
Predicting the sunspot cycle after it is completely over is even more reliable.
Perhaps in another 3 years NASA will be looking back one year and finally have a final “prediction”.

Interesting and useful and bears out what a lot of us have been saying.
However do bear in mind for ongoing cooling it is the odd cycles which count decisively. Even ones, eg SC24, which we are now in normally mean a cooler earth anyway. In odd ones Earth temp is best correlated with solar activity so a weak SC25 will be the ‘cooling clincher’. For such projections see slide 17 in the pdf in my submission to the UK Select committee enquiry into the extremely cold & snowy December 2010 crisis – short link- http://bit.ly/hEmBqG
Thanks, Piers Corbyn

Jim Cole

I know Hathaway is trying to put on a good face and honor the observational data, but this succession of “adjusted forecasts” just makes me laugh.
“Predicting yesterday’s weather – – – tomorrow”
What is the opposite of “prescient”?

crosspatch

I think the previous number was too high, and I think this number is too low. But at least they have “bracketed” what I think it is likely to turn out to be.

I wonder on what basis Dr. Hathaway is making his predictions? Anyone know his methodology and why his predictions would be any better than a wild guess?

Note that Hathaway’s error band is so broad that any value between 30 and 90 would fit. He is almost certain to be correct on that.

pwl says:
April 9, 2011 at 6:41 pm
I wonder on what basis Dr. Hathaway is making his predictions? Anyone know his methodology and why his predictions would be any better than a wild guess?
Described here: http://solarphysics.livingreviews.org/open?pubNo=lrsp-2010-1&page=articlesu14.html in section 7.

jorgekafkazar

“It’s quite a climbdown for Dr. Hathaway from his earlier predictions. Let’s give him credit for not trying to ‘hide the decline’.”
Not exactly. He was just wrong, that’s all. It’s okay for scientists to be wrong. Really.
Jim Cole says: “…What is the opposite of ‘prescient’?”
Not postscient, that’s for sure.

rbateman

Leif Svalgaard says:
April 9, 2011 at 6:59 pm
Note that Hathaway’s error band is so broad that any value between 30 and 90 would fit. He is almost certain to be correct on that.

He’s definately got the low end sandbagged:
Take the previous low swing and the latest high swing, carry on until 01/2017 and you have a smoothed value of 30 for the next 5.7 years.

art johnson

Jim Cole says: “…What is the opposite of ‘prescient’?”
A tad late-scient

rbateman

Piers_Corbyn says:
April 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Has the UK Select committee responded to your submission yet?

Leon Brozyna

I’ll take a Hathaway prediction over a Hansen prediction any day of the week.

Piers_Corbyn says:
April 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm
For such projections see slide 17 in the pdf in my submission to the UK Select committee enquiry into the extremely cold & snowy December 2010 crisis
simce you don’t label things very weel, ir is hard to figure out which one you are referring to. My guess would be this plot: http://www.leif.org/research/Piers2011.png
If so, you are somewhat economical with the truth. The blue curve is not what you pretend it is: the Wolf number from 1821 [even though you also label that point as 1892]. Poor style.

littlepeaks

According to spaceweather.com, the current sunspot number (not smoothed) for April 8 is 84. But they’re mostly itsy-bitsy sunspots.

Claude Harvey

I still believe Hathaway is a smart and competent guy who labors under the direction, further up the line, of some world-class knuckleheads. I distinctly remember him being quoted as quite alarmed that “the great solar conveyor belt”, as he described it, had essentially ground to a halt at the beginning of the currently underway cycle. A month later he was carrying his bosses’ water with assurances that “everything on the sun is normal; nothing out of the ordinary going on here”.

littlepeaks says:
April 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm
According to spaceweather.com, the current sunspot number (not smoothed) for April 8 is 84. But they’re mostly itsy-bitsy sunspots.
Unfortunately there are several sunspot series out there. The once on spaceweather.com is the NOAA number. You have to multiply that by about 0.65 to get the International [official] Sunspot Number, so 84*0.65=55 would be the official SSN, which is what Hathaway is predicting.

Claude Harvey says:
April 9, 2011 at 9:20 pm
I still believe Hathaway is a smart and competent guy who labors under the direction, further up the line, of some world-class knuckleheads.
I know him well, he is smart and competent. But I don’t think his prediction is dictated from above. His prediction is based in a published and well-known formula that takes the actual data so far as input, and cannot be monkeyed with.

Claude Harvey

Re:Leif Svalgaard says:
April 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm
“His prediction is based in a published and well-known formula that takes the actual data so far as input, and cannot be monkeyed with.”
I have no reason to doubt your assessment concerning “the formula”. I continue to find the 180 degree turn of Hathaway’s public pronouncements early in the current solar cycle very odd. In a short period of time, he went from publicly declaring that something very much out of the ordinary was taking place on the sun to declaring the cycle was perfectly ordinary. At the time, I guessed that someone was leaning on the man. As it has turned out, the current cycle has been anything but business as usual and, it appears to me, has repeatedly defied predictions of the formula.
In any event, I’m pleased to hear knowledgeable confirmation of my “smart and competent” guesstimate.

Jimmy Haigh

To me 55 is quite a lot different from 62…

Bob in Castlemaine

Piers_Corbyn says:
April 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm
Interesting and useful and bears out what a lot of us have been saying…..
However do bear in mind for ongoing cooling it is the odd cycles which count decisively. Even ones, eg SC24, which we are now in normally mean a cooler earth anyway. In odd ones Earth temp is best correlated with solar activity so a weak SC25 will be the ‘cooling clincher’.

Just remember no matter how vocal the static, observational evidence always trumps theory!
Query re slide 17 vertical axis, I realise the Wolf curves are qualitative in nature, but do you have any feel for the magnitude of tropospheric temperature reduction we may be in for?

Bill Jamison

At least with predictions for solar cycles we don’t have to wait 20, 50, or 100 years to find out the scientists and their computer models are wrong. The irony of course isn’t that David Hathaway was wrong, but rather that he was completely and utterly wrong – in 2006 the prediction was that SS24 would be the most intense of the last 400 years and now it’s one of the least intense in the last 200 years.
Time to develop some better computer models!

The grand old duke of Huntsville, Alabama
He marched them up to the top of the hill (the highest ever),
And he marched them down again (the lowest in 200 years).
And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only halfway up
They were neither up nor down.
but up in the mountains of Montenegro, the rebel isn’t budging
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC7.htm

Frank Kotler

Dr. Hathaway’s earlier prediction was contradicted by observations, so he changed his prediction. This is “science”. If he had applied “Mike’s ‘Nature’ [clever technique]” to hide the divergence between his prediction and observed data, this would not have been “science”. Thanks for the illustration of the difference, Dr. Hathaway!
Best,
Frank

Hathaway’s uncertainty margin for the predicted maximum is 26.
This far in the solar cycle, there exist other statistical methods with somewhat smaller uncertainty margins. See http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Engzonnecyclus.html#Bendel
The v20-method predicts a maximum of 78+/-20.
One should also take into consideration the rather large uncertainty in the timing of the predicted maximum (using Waldmeier’s rule, at least 16 monts). See my 05 March 11-comments on my main page.

Jan Janssens says:
April 10, 2011 at 1:14 am
http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/Engzonnecyclus.html#Bendel
The v20-method predicts a maximum of 78+/-20.

Jan, there is good evidence that the Wolf sunspots number is too small before 1945. See http://www.leif.org/research/SIDC-Seminar-12Jan.pdf and http://www.leif.org/research/SIDC-Seminar-14Sept.pdf
Try to multiply all sunspot numbers before 1945 by 1.2 and repeat the analysis. Do the R-squares improve?

Sean Houlihane

Janssens site linked above provides a very good insight into the projection methods that currently exist. The reason for keeping up-to-date forecasts is that for some fields (not climate, but space missions, communications etc) use the projections to calculate insurance risk, shielding requirements, fuel requirements, redundancy, etc. The people using the projections presumably realise that is is subject to revisions, and today would be keen to use an up-to-date projection.

Does anyone know if the same standard for SSN’s is used in comparison to records going centuries back? I’m wondering if their is inflation, somewhat like increased numbers of named storms in the Atlantic due to the advantage of satellites.
Point being, are there sun spots counted now that would have never been seen centuries past?

Puckster says:
April 10, 2011 at 2:27 am
Does anyone know if the same standard for SSN’s is used in comparison to records going centuries back?
http://www.leif.org/research/SOHO23.pdf

Leif Svalgaard says:
April 10, 2011 at 1:55 am
Try to multiply all sunspot numbers before 1945 by 1.2 and repeat the analysis. Do the R-squares improve?
In East Europe we use to multiply all achievements since 1945 and the West’s failures by 2. It produced ‘very agreeable’ R^2 correlation between the East’s achievements and the West’s failures.

DC51

What about L&P? Haven’t seen any updates lately?

R.S.Brown

littlepeaks says:
April 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm
According to spaceweather.com, the current sunspot number (not smoothed) for April 8 is 84. But they’re mostly itsy-bitsy sunspots.
If you want to look at the international sunspot numbers for
March 2011, see:
http://sidc.oma.be/products/ri_hemispheric/
When Dave Hathaway and others are talking about the charting of
sunspot numbers they’re referring to the monthly averages.
See Leif Svalgaard says @April 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm, above.
For a graphical comparison of the current cycle with the three previous
ones see:
http://www.solen.info/solar/cyclcomp.html

Bruckner8

Vuk etc. says:
April 10, 2011 at 3:01 am
Leif Svalgaard says:
April 10, 2011 at 1:55 am
Try to multiply all sunspot numbers before 1945 by 1.2 and repeat the analysis. Do the R-squares improve?

In East Europe we use to multiply all achievements since 1945 and the West’s failures by 2. It produced ‘very agreeable’ R^2 correlation between the East’s achievements and the West’s failures.

At least Vuk has a sense of humor. This was funny, let alone that it matched my sentiment as I was reading. (“Sure, fudge enough, and the R^2 will improve.”)

Bruckner8 says:
April 10, 2011 at 3:36 am
“In East Europe we use to multiply all achievements since 1945 and the West’s failures by 2. It produced ‘very agreeable’ R^2 correlation between the East’s achievements and the West’s failures.”
At least Vuk has a sense of humor. This was funny, let alone that it matched my sentiment as I was reading. (“Sure, fudge enough, and the R^2 will improve.”)

But no sense of science (as we all know). Multiplying everything by 2 does not change the correlation nor R^2.

LearDog

You gotta love a scientist who changes an opinion on the basis of evidence and reality. Admirable. I wish that more climate scientists did this – but it seems to not matter to them so much…..

harrywr2

LearDog says:
April 10, 2011 at 6:10 am
You gotta love a scientist who changes an opinion on the basis of evidence and reality.
It’s pretty hard to hide sunspots, compared to hiding a few disagreeable tree rings or thermometers.

jlurtz

The lowest 10.7 cm flux value is approximately 65 units. The highest value is about 280 units.
The present Sun’s output is 110 units therefore:
(110-65)/(280-65) = 20.9%
of the normal peak during a regular 11 year solar cycle (minimum at 2005 + 5.5 years = 2010.5). Now, of course, the Sun being a variable star has the length of the solar cycle vary. This level of energy input corresponds to a decrease in Earth temperature of about .08 degree C / 2.5 years (20% x 1.0 degree C/2.5 years).
The oceans are giving up their heat with a result of +0.6C down to -0.1C on the Earth’s Global temp. This will continue until the Sun becomes active. We are at the Global temperature equivalent to the 1970s. In 2.5 years, the Global temperature will be equivalent to the 1900s.

fabron

Leif Svalgaard says:
April 10, 2011 at 5:52 am
But no sense of science (as we all know). Multiplying everything by 2 does not change the correlation nor R^2.
Vuk said since 1945, implying to bring the correlation in line with one before 1945, in which case your remark is out of place.

jlurtz

Sorry, math error.
(20% x 0.1 degree C/2.5 years)= 0.08.

h.oldeboom

Hahahathaway is just a survivor!

Pascvaks

Re:Leif Svalgaard says:
April 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm
..“His prediction is based in a published and well-known formula that takes the actual data so far as input, and cannot be monkeyed with.”
Leif
Any significant changes to the “formula” as a result to the 23-24 cycle change and the slow and low progress of 24 to date? Based on the early estimates of Cycle 24 (your’s and some others at the low end of the scale and Hathaway’s et al toward the high end) seems some formulas are more accurate than others.
PS: Wish the world had a lot more Hathaways. We need “scientists” not “psyentists”.

harrywr2 says:
April 10, 2011 at 7:13 am
It’s pretty hard to hide sunspots, compared to hiding a few disagreeable tree rings or thermometers.
The Sun may be hiding the spots at times, e.g. during the Maunder Minimum and recently causing the Livingston&Penn effect…
See slide 14-17 of http://www.leif.org/research/Eddy-Symp-Poster-2.pdf

Pamela Gray

Bob, observational evidence never trumps mechanism. Else we would still be fearing and providing sacrifice to female cycles as harbingers and prevention of crop destruction. I still remember, in my youth, reading articles that postulated, based on “confirmed” observational evidence, menstrual cycles were tied to lunar stages. I wonder what the score is historically: observation versus theory. My hunch is that in all of scientific history, plausible mechanism destroyed observation many more times than the other way around.
Just one example: Read up on how the periodic table was completed before there was observational evidence of some of the elements now listed.

Jim Cross

I have been interested in the sunspot cycle for a number of years now and I suspect some kind of Earth climate effect but still am not convinced that any of the proposed mechanisms explain how it would work.
Solar irradiance measures do not seem to vary enough from low points and high points in cycle or from low cycles to high cycles to have any major effect on climate. Galactic cosmic ray theories haven’t been convincing either. On the other hand, we clearly seem to have periods of high solar activity associated with warming (Medieval Warm Period) and periods of low activity associated with cooling (Little Ice Age). Our current period of high activity and warming, of course, has the complicating issue of being also a time of increasing green house gases and so can’t be used to argue one way or the other as to relative effects of GHGs vs solar influence.
It would seem that this solar cycle and perhaps the next ought to be fairly definitive in providing some idea of relative effects of the two.
Is there some other theory out there that I am missing? What are others thoughts on this?

ferdberple

Piers_Corbyn says:
April 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm
However do bear in mind for ongoing cooling it is the odd cycles which count decisively.
Piers opened my eyes to something that is often overlooked. The true solar cycle is 22 years; for 11 years the earth and sun’s magenetic field are aligned, the other 11 years they are opposite.
The observation that we get different weather patterns when the magnetic fields are aligned as compared to when they are opposite is largely ignored in climate scince.

Doug Proctor

Strange? The prediction is the same as the current sunspot number (about). How many of the past 23 cycles are like this in year 3? I would expect that the middle would be higher. The sudden spike looks like an anomalous thing. So why would you define the end by the sudden spike? Without the spike we would have gone for a smaller final count. And the spike: is it real or an artefact of how the spots are being counted …

ferdberple

While it has been conclusively proven that solar variance does not drive climate change, even Wikipedia seems to recognize things are not quite as they have been:
“The level of solar activity during the past 70 years is exceptional — the last period of similar magnitude occurred over 8,000 years ago. The Sun was at a similarly high level of magnetic activity for only ~10% of the past 11,400 years, and almost all of the earlier high-activity periods were shorter than the present episode.[27]”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation

ferdberple

an interesting graph from wikipedia, demonstrating that there is no connection between solar activity and the earths average temperature:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carbon14_with_activity_labels.svg

Edward

I thought everyone predicted a small 25, so Corbyn is right probably as usual. Also David Archibald predicted a very low 24 I think it was 40-60 so spot on. Its interesting to see that the AGW skeptics have been spot on since predicting things 2 years ago whereas nearly ALL the AGW’ers have been way off except for last years temps, which I concede.. I also have grave reservations they way CT calculates NH ice. The feeling is that the baseline is adjusted to keep below anomalies. Unfortunately the ice is constant and not getting any lower, although NCDC makes a marvelous job of making the ice appear to get lower every year non-stop .