Solar Max – So Soon?

Guest post by David Archibald

Dr Svalgaard has an interesting annotation on his chart of solar parameters – “Welcome to solar max”:

Graphic source:  http://www.leif.org/research/TSI-SORCE-2008-now.png

Could it be?  It seems that Solar Cycle 24 had only just begun, with solar minimum only two and a half years ago in December 2008.

The first place to confirm that is the solar polar magnetic field strength, with data from the Wilcox Solar Observatory: 

Source:  http://wso.stanford.edu/

The magnetic poles of the Sun reverse at solar maximum.  The northern field has reversed.  There are only three prior reversals in the instrument record.  Another parameter that would confirm solar maximum is the heliospheric current sheet tilt angle, also from the WSO site.

The heliospheric current sheet tilt angle has taken a couple of years to reach solar maximum from its current level.

If the Sun is anywhere near solar maximum, the significance of that is that it would be the first time in the record that a short cycle was also a weak cycle, though Usoskin et al in 2009 proposed a short, asymmetric cycle in the late 18th century at the beginning of the Dalton Minimum:  http://climate.arm.ac.uk/publications/arlt2.pdf

Interestingly, Ed Fix (paper in press) generated a solar model (based on forces that dare not speak their name) which predicts two consecutive, weak solar cycles, each eight years long:

The green line is the solar cycle record with alternate cycles reversed.  The red line is the model output.  Solar Cycles 19 to 23 are annotated.

This model has the next solar maximum in 2013 and minimum only four years later in 2017.  This outcome is possible based on the Sun’s behaviour to date.

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Polar fields as plotted from the WSO data have stalled in the last few weeks, indicating solar max at least a year away.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC6.htm

Mike McMillan

Darn sun’s going weird on us.
We don’t really need another Dalton, not with the population size we’ve got to feed.

Wow!
No one really knows what it means … yet we know the sun is such a massive massive factor influencing our lives, that even an almost insignificant change in the sun could lead to millions perhaps billions of deaths on earth.
Potentially the biggest thing that has happened to humanity, or perhaps nothing at all.
Drum roll & queue the profits** of doom. (**not a spelling mistake)

Interestingly, Ed Fix (paper in press) generated a solar model (based on forces that dare not speak their name) which predicts two consecutive, weak solar cycles, each eight years long
Polar field formula (first version published in Jan 2004) extrapolates ‘normal’ length for SC24, next min arround 2017-18, but then things may get more interesting.
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC2.htm

The magnetic poles of the Sun reverse at solar maximum. The northern field has reversed. There are only three prior reversals in the instrument record.
There are five reversals. The first one in 1957-1958: http://www.leif.org/EOS/Babcock1959.pdf
>i>The heliospheric current sheet tilt angle has taken a couple of years to reach solar maximum from its current level.
In cycle 21 it only took one year.
If the Sun is anywhere near solar maximum, the significance of that is that it would be the first time in the record that a short cycle was also a weak cycle
Just because maximum is early does not mean that the cycle will be short. E.g. http://www.leif.org/research/Solar-Activity-1785-1810.png
If the cycle is long or even just average in length, the polar fields may have time to grow so that cycle 25 might be a large cycle. If Ed Fix’s prediction fails it would mean that the ‘theory’ behind it has also failed.

The magnetic poles of the Sun reverse at solar maximum. The northern field has reversed. There are only three prior reversals in the instrument record.
No, there are five reversals in the record. The first one in 1957-1958: http://www.leif.org/EOS/EOS/Babcock1959.pdf
The heliospheric current sheet tilt angle has taken a couple of years to reach solar maximum from its current level.
In cycle 21 it only took one year.
If the Sun is anywhere near solar maximum, the significance of that is that it would be the first time in the record that a short cycle was also a weak cycle
Just because maximum is early does not mean that the cycle will be short. E.g. http://www.leif.org/research/Solar-Activity-1785-1810.png
Ed Fix (paper in press) generated a solar model
If the cycle is long or even just average in length, the polar fields may have time to grow so that cycle 25 might be a large cycle. If Ed Fix’s prediction fails it would mean that the ‘theory’ behind it has also failed.

The heliospheric current sheet tilt angle has taken a couple of years to reach solar maximum from its current level.
In cycle 21 and cycle 22 it only took one year.

BENG

Very interesting post. Is it possible the magnet pole reversal phase could take longer though in a weak cycle? In the strong cycle the switch looks to have happened in the space of around 1 year – perhaps in a weak cycle it will take 3 years due to the amplitude of the pattern being less.

Bob the swiss

Very interesting !
The sun is the main climate driver (with volcanos). It has been and it’s still the case today.
Once again we can see that our weak scientific knowledges on the sun can not predict its future behavior.
How can computer climate projections to do any accurate forecasts ?

NeilM

“(based on forces that dare not speak their name)” ???
Anyone care to enlighten me?

vukcevic says:
May 8, 2011 at 12:25 am
Polar field formula (first version published in Jan 2004) extrapolates ‘normal’ length for SC24, next min arround 2017-18, but then things may get more interesting.
So disagrees with Ed Fix’s…
BENG says:
May 8, 2011 at 1:03 am
Very interesting post. Is it possible the magnet pole reversal phase could take longer though in a weak cycle?
Yes, this is possible and the polarity could change back and forth more than once, as the polar fields are the result of rather random flux arrivals. Weak cycles tend to have a drawn-out maximum, e.g. cycle 14:
http://www.leif.org/research/SC-14-and-24.png

NeilM says:
May 8, 2011 at 1:45 am
“(based on forces that dare not speak their name)” ???
Anyone care to enlighten me?

Astrology…

Bob the swiss says:
May 8, 2011 at 1:12 am
The sun is the main climate driver (with volcanos). It has been and it’s still the case today.
No, the Earth’s orbit and axis orientation are.

See - owe to Rich

“(based on forces that dare not speak their name)” ???
Anyone care to enlighten me?

NeilM: I don’t know, but I’d guess with very high subjective probability: Jupiter, Venus, Earth (+possibly other planets). Such a theory would be astronomical if anyone could explain the physics, but as they have not yet done so, many people call it “astrological”. Such theories are unacceptable in many scientific circles. Personally, I am more open-minded about the cumulative effects large gaseous bodies can have on other large gaseous bodies.
Rich.

See – owe to Rich says:
May 8, 2011 at 2:20 am
Personally, I am more open-minded about the cumulative effects large gaseous bodies can have on other large gaseous bodies.
The effect would be much larger if Jupiter and Saturn were not gaseous.

Jcarels

If one uses an model based on the planets, how to explain the maunder minimum?

Lawrie Ayres

All I want to know is if it will get cooler or will it get warmer? Will the change be significant enough to make the climate scientists revise their projections of continued warming with continued emissions? Even before these latest solar shenannigans the correlation was not obvious.

Dave (UK)

If the extended solar minimum of Cycle 23 was the cause of the severe winters we’ve had these past two or three years, the next Cycle could result in a series of winters more like that of ’63. In addition, the less energetic jetstreams in both hemispheres will mean more of the unsettled weather we’ve had, including more flooding and more mini heat waves.
Irrespective of the outcome, the warmists will blame Ag e’Dubalu, their malign god of climate.

Edim

Strongly disagree!
Not before 2014. Next minimum around 2020.
See “butterfly” diagram:
http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/bfly.gif
Sunspots are not even near equator.
And short cycles are strong! Long ones, like the SC 24, are weak.

See - owe to Rich

Leif: The effect would be much larger if Jupiter and Saturn were not gaseous.
Yes! I’m assuming you mean that if they were solid – and still the same size – then they would be more massive and their graviational pull would be greater.
Jcarels: If one uses an model based on the planets, how to explain the maunder minimum?
I doubt that you’ll be allowed to debate that here. Try tallblokes’ talkshop.
Lawrie: Will the change be significant enough to make the climate scientists revise their projections of continued warming with continued emissions?
There are two questions there: first, will the change be significant, second will it make climate scientists revise their projections? On Total Solar Irradiance alone I don’t think the change will be that significant. But the Svensmark Hypothesis is that weak sun affects the Earth’s albedo, which would be significant.
For the second question, some climate scientists will revise, and some won’t. It’ll be a bloodbath, or a mudbath, or some other painful thing as new data is analyzed and promoted or disdained by various camps.
Rich.

rbateman

The delay/failure of the southern half of SC24 could make this weak cycle long/short.
Leif, you are correct about orbit and axis orientation, but the implication for N. Hemisphere Summer grows in importance, for Earth does not receive the TSI from the Sun with such factors corrected out.
[snip]

Jcarels says: May 8, 2011 at 2:46 am
If one uses an model based on the planets, how to explain the maunder minimum?
Resonance systems are well known in many branches of physics. There is a degree of planetary synchronisation (Titius –Bode law). An article published in 2004
http://xxx.lanl.gov/ftp/astro-ph/papers/0401/0401107.pdf ( page 2 fig2.)
shows that may be a ‘possibility’. Maunder min was only one in the sequence of minor and major anomalies as shown here:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC4.htm

Alan the Brit

Interesting!
Shiney ball theory gets another airing. We don’t really know what effect element ‘A’ has on element ‘B’, but we know for sure element ‘C’ overpowers element ‘A’. Makes sense to me, sarc off:-)) The Sun does possess 99.9% of the mass of the solar system. We possess less than a few hundreths of the mass of the solar system, if that much if it makes any sense. Who can say for absolute certainity that a 0.1% change in TSI & a 6-10% change in Extreme UV doesn’t affect us in some unknown way? Of course, if we did know, that won’t get us a UN Global Intellectual Socialist Elitists Guvmnt (They know what’s best for us better than we do) & massive wealth transfer to the poor people, you know those who’ll receive about $390 each for every $1,000,000 that will go to their little guvmnts/leaders/business interests secret bank accounts, etc.

Leif Svalgaard says: May 8, 2011 at 1:58 am
So (you) disagrees with Ed Fix’s…
I often disagree even with people I can identify by their previous work, since I don’t know who is Ed Fix ( FixEd, fixed ) or who or what is fixed, so I shall disagree.
I will agree with :
Leif Svalgaard says: May 8, 2011 at 2:02 am
No, the Earth’s orbit and axis orientation are.

Alex

Leif Svalgaard says:
May 8, 2011 at 2:02 am
No, the Earth’s orbit and axis orientation are.

So if you “remove” the sun there wouldn’t be much change?

Tony Hansen

Well thankfully the GCM’s picked this spot on……..
otherwise I just might’ve become a tad sceptical…..

Alan the Brit says:
May 8, 2011 at 4:04 am
…….
I think that the claim that solar variation is not sufficiently large to account for the MWP, LIA, modern warming period, etc, is most likely correct.
Since oceans absorb huge amount of energy I think that:
Energy in = Energy out but only if integrated over period spanning centuries.
Oceans behave in a manner resembling to a Galileo’s thermometer; but what makes them do that is an idea I’ve been working on for some time now (about 60-70% of work is completed).

Mike McMillan says:

Darn sun’s going weird on us.
We don’t really need another Dalton, not with the population size we’ve got to feed.

Don’t worry Mike, we’ve nearly doubled CO2 thanks to industrial emissions, that’s about 30% more food under similar conditions of heat and moisture. Oh, hang on, they’re trying to tax us into the stone age to stop us boosting the world’s plant growth. Panic Mike!!!

Leif Svalgaard says: May 8, 2011 at 2:02 am
Bob the swiss says: May 8, 2011 at 1:12 am
The sun is the main climate driver (with volcanos). It has been and it’s still the case today.
No, the Earth’s orbit and axis orientation are.

Yes, main driver for long term ice age and interglacial. I’m more a fan of those effects getting a boost from volcanic activity or lack thereof. A similar boost coined the phrase, “1800 and frozen to death”.

R Babcock

I have a simple theory. The Sun is ultimately responsible for all the global warming or cooling we experience.. period. Anything we do here on our little planet may trap a little heat for a while, but ultimately it will be given up to space.
If the Sun’s output goes down, we will cool. If it goes up, we will warm. It may take a while, but it will happen. It’s like a diet. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight and vice versa.

P. Solar

Alan the Brit says:

The Sun does possess 99.9% of the mass of the solar system. We possess less than a few hundreths of the mass of the solar system, if that much if it makes any sense. Who can say for absolute certainity that a 0.1% change in TSI & a 6-10% change in Extreme UV doesn’t affect us in some unknown way?

You are (intentionally?) missing the point. The Sun is a churning ball of plasma with strong magnetic currents. Despite the relative masses , it is not unreasonable to suggest that nearby massive bodies and magnetic fields may interact with the Sun to produce small perturbation in the surface activity. Sun spots are small perturbation in the surface activity and are known to affect climate.
Our severely limited knowledge of what happens inside the Sun makes it difficult to formulate a mechanism and chaotic activity makes it hard to spot a simple correlation. To that extent it remains “astrology” to some, however the proposition is not unreasonable.

DirkH

Two short cycles would be expected if we assume that the solar cycles develop like an interference of two sinusoidal curves with similar, but not identical frequencies; resulting in a beat. The moment the beat occurs one extra pass through zero happens.

P. Solar

Dave (UK) says:
May 8, 2011 at 2:54 am
“If the extended solar minimum of Cycle 23 was the cause of the severe winters we’ve had these past two or three years, the next Cycle could result in a series of winters more like that of ’63. ”
Even if there were similar external conditions I think a ’63-like event is unlikely since we are starting from a warmer climate that at that time.

MattN

No way we’re there already. Unpossible…

onion2

“If the Sun’s output goes down, we will cool. If it goes up, we will warm. It may take a while, but it will happen. It’s like a diet. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight and vice versa.”
Rising CO2 is like eating slightly more cake each day.

icecover

Its mainly both, obviously sun and earth tilt etc.

David Archibald

Mike McMillan says:
May 8, 2011 at 12:23 am
Newman in 1980 determined that corn growing conditions shifted 144 km per degree C. The good news for the US is that the total corn growing area doesn’t change much, it just shifts about 300 km south. The rest of the world is not so good. Canada’s wheat crop will be wiped out by the 2 degree drop reducing the growing season by 30 days.
Newman, J. E. (1980). Climate change impacts on the growing season of the North American Corn Belt. Biometeorology, 7 (2), 128-142.

Leif Svalgaard says:
May 8, 2011 at 1:59 am
NeilM says:
May 8, 2011 at 1:45 am
“(based on forces that dare not speak their name)” ???
Anyone care to enlighten me?
Astrology…

Coupled with Dynamology.

Mr. Alex

http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/bfly.gif
The sunspot Butterfly diagram suggests SC 24 maximum is not even close.

DirkH

onion2 says:
May 8, 2011 at 6:08 am
“Rising CO2 is like eating slightly more cake each day.”
And where’s the postulated, never observed, positive water vapor feedback that the AGW scientists need to maintain their catastrophe predictions in your cake analogy?

Alec, aka Daffy Duck

“Update, or Lack Thereof, to the Solar Cycle 24 Prediction”
Doug Biesecker, NOAA/SWPC
http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/sww/SWW_2011_Presentations/Fri_1030/Biesecker_SolarCycle24.ppt
[i was looking for what else might be recent from NASA or NOAA and found the above… google ask it was just upload “1 day ago”]

P. Solar

This is a highly non-rigourous idea that I tried recently. The methodology is questionable but the result is intersting enough to have a look at.
The idea came as an experiment to see how misleading the IPCCs arbitrary selection of “last 50y of 20th century” was as a period to focus on. (Round number don’t count as a reason in science). It turns out that choice fits their argument perfectly but is not representative.
First I calculated the linear trend for all the possible 50 year periods for HadCrut3 data and plotted the 50 year slopes against the *start* of the 50 year period.
It should be noted that this process itself is transforming the data and the form of the output is quite dependant on the length of the filter. (slopes or around 30 years gives a similar form but with triangular rather than sinusoidal profile).
Anyway, I so struck by the simplicity of the graph that I decided to fit a cosine plus linear trend. It was not perfect but is was a very close fit. So I decided to integrate the function analytically and reconstruct the temperature record from it.
Here’s the reconstructed trends
based on that simple empirical model of the Hadley/CRU data.
It is purely based on the *form* of the data , no physical model or assumptions made.
I don’t think it can be taken too seriously as a predictive model , although I’d give it better odds than a lot of current climate models which failed in the first tens years of extrapolation. 😉
I do not think the form of the 50 years slopes is can be just a coincidence or an artefact of selective filtering, so there is something to made from a closer look.

P. Solar

Here’s the fitted cosine + linear model of the 50 year LSQ slopes.

Dave (UK)

P. Solar says:
May 8, 2011 at 5:53 am
Even if there were similar external conditions I think a ’63-like event is unlikely since we are starting from a warmer climate that at that time.
Unless I’m mis-remembering the stats from last century, the temperature gains in the 20th Century have been reversed by the cooling of the past decade. So, are we starting a new solar cycle with a warmer climate than ’63?

Tom in Florida

R Babcock says: (May 8, 2011 at 5:42 am)
“It’s like a diet. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight and vice versa.”
Unfortunately your example implies an unlimited amount of calorie consumption along with an unlimited amount of calorie burning. Let’s refine it by giving the consumption a fixed amount, much like the Sun which varies little. A 3000 daily calorie consumption will mean weight gain to someone who only burns 2000 calories a day but will mean weight loss for someone who burns 4000 calories a day. The intake is fixed (Sun’s energy) and the variables are completely outside the influence of the intake (Earth’s shape, it’s inclination and it’s orbit). So while the Sun establishes the parameters of climate, slight changes in solar output are swamped by other factors that have nothing to do with the Sun itself.

Bill Illis

Total Solar Irradiance from the SORCE instrument is showing a normal solar cycle ramp-up and it didn’t really decline at solar minimum beyond that which would be expected.
SORCE is showing nothing unusual happening in TSI other than than cycle 23 was a little longer than normal.
http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/total_solar_irradiance_plots/images/tim_level3_tsi_24hour_640x480.png
The total energy being directed at Earth is changing by such small amounts (a change of +/- 0.4 watts/m2 at the TOA – remember we divide that by 4 for a rotating sphere and 30% of it is just reflected away anyway) so it should make no difference to Earth temperatures.
It needs to change by 10 to 40 times more than that to cause Little Ice Age conditions.

NeilM says:
May 8, 2011 at 1:45 am

“(based on forces that dare not speak their name)” ???
Anyone care to enlighten me?

Likely solar tides due to planets and/or barycenter stuff. Those rankle the continuum here enough that Anthony has banished them to the ether. You are welcome to discuss them at RealClimate.

Roger Andrews

From my layman’s perspective the butterfly diagram that Edim posted earlier:
http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/bfly.gif
provides good evidence to suggest that solar maximum is still some way off.
Anyone care to comment? Vuk? Leif? Tallbloke? (glad to see you’re still around).

See - owe to Rich

P.Solar on modelling HadCRUT3: you should take a look at Scafetta (2010), which has an excellent fit to two cosines (periods 20 and 60 years) plus a quadratic.
Rich.

ferdberple

“If Ed Fix’s prediction fails it would mean that the ‘theory’ behind it has also failed”
The IPCC GHG models failed to predict that warming would level off in 1999. Does this mean the GHG theory behind them has also failed?