Solar cycle update: sunspots down, Ap index way down

The NOAA SWPC monthly solar cycle update has been published here, and after a big spike last month, the sunspot count is down again. There’s an even bigger drop though in the Ap geomagnetic index, as seen and discussed below the Continue reading line.

image

10.7 centimeter radio flux was down slightly too.

image

But here’s the really interesting part, the Ap geomagnetic index plummeted to a value  of 2, equal to the previous 12 year minimum set in November 2009.

image

Source data: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/RecentIndices.txt

Dr. Leif Svalgaard offers these comments via email:

Ap is based on mostly Northern Hemisphere stations [11 North, 2 South] and is somewhat biased [having less activity in northern winter]. This is in addition to a general semiannual variation  http://www.leif.org/research/Semiannual-Comment.pdf

with minima at the solstices. The definitive Ap values are determined by Potsdam and can be found here:  http://isgi.latmos.ipsl.fr/lesdonne.htm

Real-time values [preliminary the last 15 days] are available here  http://www.geomag.bgs.ac.uk/data_service/data/magnetic_indices/apindex.html

SWPC [NOAA] also compute preliminary real-time values. These computed values are truncated, so if, for instance, Ap = 9.99 it is reported [and plotted] as 9.00. SWPC is not very good at updating their graphs with definitive values, so one should not make too strong statements based on their graphs. The value for December, 2011 is a case in point. It is plotted as 2, but the real value is estimated [by BGS] to be 4.1.

The Aa index is based on one northern and one southern station, so does not suffer from some of the problems Ap has. The index can also be calculated from solar wind data: Aa = 1/6 BVo^2, where the solar wind magnetic field B is in nT and the solar wind speed Vo is in units of 100 km/s. Here is computed [blue and green curves] vs. observed [red curve] values since 2005: http://www.leif.org/research/Aa-Since-2005.png

http://www.leif.org/research/Aa-Since-2005.png

You can see that geomagnetic activity is low, but not as low as at the end of 2009.

The reason for the low activity is that the solar wind speed is low [365 km/s]. This often happens near solar maximum.

UPDATE: David Archibald adds this graph and narrative –

Dr Svalgaard’s comment re solar wind and solar maximum might be misinterpreted to suggest that Ap Index is lowest at solar maximum.  The opposite is true as shown by this graph from of the Ap Index from 1932.

The Ap Index is back below the floor established by all the previous solar minima.  This is important, and there is a correlation between low Ap Index and cooling.

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PaulR

The reason for the low activity is that the solar wind speed is low [365 km/s]. This often happens near solar maximum.
So the inference is that solar maximum is now and not in 2013? That means a short cycle. A short cycle means something, there have been other WUWT posts on that topic.

If it is true that we are already at or near solar maximum we should be afraid.Very very afraid!

crosspatch

It can sit at maximum for a while, sometimes there’s even a double peak. Still looks like 2013 from the last data I saw. Still, 1 year away is “close” to solar max.

I think we are going to see a very confused pattern over the next 15 years or so. We may get a long low plateau of activity with the occasional upspike, followed around 2017 by an odd sort of ‘minimum’ and a low cycle 25 which will also be in fits and starts.
That’s how I’m seeing the tealeaves at the moment.

Tallbloke….tea leaves? That interrogation must have bored you to tears!

TB
That sounds like a climate model prediction.
predictions must be falsifiable in principle. numbers dude. add some numbers

Here’s the real news. All these global warming yoyo’s are going to be eating a pot full of crow. Who’s going to be jamming it down thier throat? Anthony Watts and all the other competent, salient, cogent, sane, superior intellects who post here.
I probably will never get to meet you Anthony but its ok. These turds you face daily are going to hate the true voice of science and it will be coming from your finger tips. Keep on jamming Anthony! Same to you the moderators!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Mike Clark——your friend for the truth

Leif
Can you graph the Ap over the course of cycle 23 and its peak so that we can see a comparison between CY 23 and 24 as your sources show?

Richard Meisterling

Another salient point – if the CERN Cloud experiment presages another valid approach to AGW arguments, the decrease in sunspot activity will inspire increased cosmic ray saturation, and subsequently, diminished cloud formation. The result? A global climate that is less warm.

Don

Sunspot number right on the smoothed average…no big deal.

Rob Dawg

I am not ashamed to admit we do not fully understand solar dynamics. I am ashamed by those warmists who choose to ignore this.

Katherine

You can see that geomagnetic activity is low, but not as low as at the end of 2009.
The reason for the low activity is that the solar wind speed is low [365 km/s]. This often happens near solar maximum.

Does that mean solar maximum was near the end of 2009?
Message received: Nothing to see here. Move along.

So much for all the effort I put in when I installed some new antennas for below 14mHz. As a ham radio operator, this has been a screwy cycle to say the least…oh well, it was fun for awhile – hopefully the sun will toss a few more our way.

R.S.Brown

Dr. Svalgaard doesn’t mention that, in part because of his insistance, the United
States SSN is now including specks instead of “traditionally” reported spots.
He has also blogged/lobbied for the revision or “adjustment” of older monthly
and annual sun spot counts to include a fudge factor for the pores, blips and pips
the old observers couldn’t or didn’t report.
We know what happens when adjustments are made to historical data when
the thought is propounded by folks with a current agenda.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I have some doubt as to the cosmic ray count going down in reaction to a
reduction in SSN and 10.7m flux from November this early January. It seems
a few weeks early for the cosmic ray count to be dropping in response to
the AP measurment in October.
My impression was that it took roughly a four month lag for these solar/earth
factors to have any observable correlation to the cosmic ray counts.

Admittedly I am not a solar expert.
But if everything is down and all of the numbers are low, how is it a max ?
What is maxing ?
What is supposed to max ?

tokyoboy

Probably on topic…..the newest CET graph exhibits a drastic cooling for a decade or so:
http://junksciencearchive.com/MSU_Temps/HadCET_an.html

Richard Meisterling

Please explain a bit, Don – I’m a layman and hardly an expert. It appears from the graphs above that, even on a smoothed average, there will be a decrease. Should I not be following that projection line? And while I’m asking, can you comment on the import of the CERN/cloud experiment?

I’ve noticed that although the sunspot activity has been high recently, the cosmic ray count at the Oulu neutron counter has not gone down since July.
Instead it has gone up.
This is consistent with the drop in the Ap index.
Is there a Maunder type dropout of solar activity just around the corner?
Only time will tell!

Mike A.

Meanwhile…
http://www.clickgreen.org.uk/events/events/123002-%5Cclimategate%5C-scientist-rewarded-with-knighthood-in-new-year-honours-list.html
” ‘Climategate’ scientist rewarded with knighthood in New Year Honours List
by ClickGreen staff. Published Wed 04 Jan 2012 20:23
Professor Bob Watson awarded a knighthood
A climate scientist who became embroiled in the ‘Climategate’ scandal has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year Honours List.
Professor Bob Watson of the University of East Anglia, who is also the chief scientific adviser at Defra, has been handed one of the highest honours an individual can receive.
The professor has consistently warned that there will be a significant rise in global temperatures unless there is a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions. In December 2009 he said: “If we stayed on the road of the last decade or two, we would be much more on the high emissions scenario of the IPCC and that plausibly could take us up by 6C.” “

” In December 2009 he said: “If we stayed on the road of the last decade or two, we would be much more on the high emissions scenario of the IPCC and that plausibly could take us up by 6C.” “
So we have a baseline for levels of absurdity necessary to rise to the top the heap. And it is a heap.

tokyoboy

Mike A. says: January 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm
Meanwhile…Professor Bob Watson awarded a knighthood
In 2010 the Asahi Glass Foundation (shamefully) gave him a Blue Planet Award with US$ 650,000:
http://www.af-info.or.jp/en/blueplanet/list.html
And the co-recipient was Jim Hansen……..

DirkH

steven mosher says:
January 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm
“TB
That sounds like a climate model prediction.
predictions must be falsifiable in principle. numbers dude. add some numbers”
When has a climate model ever made a prediction? I hear that they only deal in non-falsifiable projections.

Mike

When I am curious about sunspot cycling, I like to refer to the Hathaway/NASA graph. Its on Anthony’s solar page. It gives a much longer view, not as many microscopic details but it strongly suggests the current cycle has started out quite weak and should continue that way. Solar Max this cycle will be smaller by comparison to the seven previous cycles and maybe smaller compared to even more of the remote cycles. Its a perspective thing.
http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/bfly.pdf

Jeef

Ignorant neck on the line: I project Maximum by mid 2013, SSn <75 smoothed post-maximum. What do you mean no data to support my projection? Works for climate!

As I pointed out last month, UAH temperatures are running warm versus RSS (or RSS is running cold versus UAH). Now that December data is in for RSS and UAH, this is the first year of the satellite record (going back to 1979) that UAH anomaly annual mean is warmer than RSS anomaly annual mean. It’s also the first time for any 12-month running mean, not just Jan-to-Dec. Any comments on the divergence, which appears to have started sometime in the spring of 2011?

@PaulR
> So the inference is that solar maximum is now and not in 2013?
The most reliable indicator of solar activity is the 10.7cm radio flux. Looking at the official monthly plots from Penticton you can see SC24 has barely started to show some activity, so SC24 isn’t about to end any time soon:
http://www.spaceweather.ca/data-donnee/sol_flux/sx-6-mavg-eng.php
Activity seems to come in surges spaced roughly six months or so apart. The first big flux surge for SC24 occurred in Mar 2011 (115sfu), then a second bigger one in Nov 2011 (150sfu).
So do you think the Nov 2011 surge was the max? I don’t think so.
I would expect to see another surge, probably greater than the last around June or July 2012. Probably one or two more after that till we get to solar max, IMHO.
Leif, what is your latest prediction for the timing of the SC24 solar max?

Yes … the 10 meter band was blowing and going for a little while there; sporadic contacts as of late though …

TRM

“The reason for the low activity is that the solar wind speed is low [365 km/s]. This often happens near solar maximum.”
If this is the max then what are we looking at for the min? I beginning to be worried that those forecasting a seriously long and low minimum are correct. For the life of me I didn’t want to.

Richard Meisterling says: increased cosmic ray saturation, and subsequently, diminished cloud formation
That hypothesis goes the other way ’round.
low solar activity ==> more cosmic rays get to Earth ==> more clouds.

burnside

Richard, the CERN CLOUD series postulates decreased solar wind and a corresponding rise in cosmic rays reaching our atmosphere tend to increase cloud formation activity – with a net cooling effect.

Dennis Ray Wingo says:
January 4, 2012 at 3:58 pm
Can you graph the Ap over the course of cycle 23 and its peak so that we can see a comparison between CY 23 and 24 as your sources show?
http://www.leif.org/research/Ap-1950-now.png
http://www.leif.org/research/Ap-1844-now.png
Katherine says:
January 4, 2012 at 4:24 pm
“The reason for the low activity is that the solar wind speed is low [365 km/s]. This often happens near solar maximum.”
Does that mean solar maximum was near the end of 2009?

No, solar wind speed is also low at minimum [even lower at times]. What it means is that there is a secondary minimum near solar maximum. The solar wind ‘climatology’ is complex: http://www.leif.org/research/Climatological%20Solar%20Wind.png the solar wind speed has a dip at solar maximum. The density is also lower at maximum, so the pressure of the solar wind is actually lowest at solar maximum: http://www.leif.org/research/Space-Climate-n-B-V-Flow.png
R.S.Brown says:
January 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm
Dr. Svalgaard doesn’t mention that, in part because of his insistance, the United
States SSN is now including specks instead of “traditionally” reported spots.

You have this completely backwards. The counting of specks was introduced ~1878 by Alfred Wolfer [Rudolf Wolf’s assistant]. In order to align the [now larger] count with the traditional Wolf scale, the count is multiplied by 0.6.
He has also blogged/lobbied for the revision or “adjustment” of older monthly
and annual sun spot counts to include a fudge factor for the pores, blips and pips
the old observers couldn’t or didn’t report.

On the contrary, sometime in the 1940s Max Waldmeier [director of Zurich Observatory] began to weight sunspots such that large spots [not ‘blips’] were counted multiple times [up to 5 depending on the size]. In this way, the sunspot count was artificially inflated due to extra-counting of BIG spots. We should, of course, to maintain continuity with the traditional spot counts, get rid of the double-counting, now that we know about it. Or alternatively inflated the old numbers the same way: http://www.leif.org/research/Effect-of-Weighting-on-SSN.pdf
We know what happens when adjustments are made to historical data when the thought is propounded by folks with a current agenda.
When errors are found in old data they must be corrected. Your remark about agenda is not worth responding to. Shame on you.

Bill H

Low solar wind…
Allows an increase of cosmic (ionizing) radiation to hit the earth.
this increases global cloud cover.. and reduces TSI at the surface.
Given the lack of any indicators for the next solar cycle on the sun this is going to go cold. If we have reached solar maxim and it falls off rapidly were in for a major cool down.
Amazing that the sun is not cooperating with the Global Warming…..

John Day says:
January 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm
Leif, what is your latest prediction for the timing of the SC24 solar max?
I think this will be a long drawn-out maximum, perhaps like cycle 14, so it will be hard to put a precise date to it. http://www.leif.org/research/SC14-and-24.png

DR

@Walter Dnes,
Roy Spencer said recently UAH has a warm bias for the past few years IIRC and so there will an adjustment forthcoming.

Sparks

Leif Svalgaard says:
January 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm
John Day says:
January 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm
Leif, what is your latest prediction for the timing of the SC24 solar max?
I think this will be a long drawn-out maximum, perhaps like cycle 14, so it will be hard to put a precise date to it. http://www.leif.org/research/SC14-and-24.png
Leif, good work but just one comment cycle 24 looks nothing like cycle 14, if anything it looks to me like it will be much shorter, but, TB is right about the tea leaves comment, Oh how I larfed out loud.
🙂

Theo Goodwin

DirkH says:
January 4, 2012 at 5:16 pm
“When has a climate model ever made a prediction? I hear that they only deal in non-falsifiable projections.”
The only prediction, so-called, that a climate model can make is “Same old, Same old.”

Sparks says:
January 4, 2012 at 8:42 pm
cycle 24 looks nothing like cycle 14, if anything it looks to me like it will be much shorter
Hard to tell: http://www.leif.org/research/SC14-and-24x.png

R.S.Brown says:
January 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm
Dr. Svalgaard doesn’t mention that, in part because of his insistance, the United
States SSN is now including specks instead of “traditionally” reported spots.
He has also blogged/lobbied for the revision or “adjustment” of older monthly
and annual sun spot counts to include a fudge factor for the pores, blips and pips
the old observers couldn’t or didn’t report.
We know what happens when adjustments are made to historical data when
the thought is propounded by folks with a current agenda.

These statements are wrong, and one should research more thoroughly before passing such comment.
Leif has answered the criticism, but as an extra note the change in methods since Wolfer and in particular Waldmeier make it impossible to compare the current cycle with cycles before 1945.
My prediction is for SC24 to be similar to SC5, and at present is still on track. I have used a method of counting SC24 more closely to the way SC5 & SC6 were counted.
http://tinyurl.com/2dg9u22/images/sc5_sc24_19.png

that should read
My prediction is for SC24 to be similar to SC5, and at present is still on track. I have used a method of counting SC24 more closely to way SC5 & SC6 were counted.
{After reading it three times, decided to just fix it 😉 -modE }

ferdberple

Rob Dawg says:
January 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm
I am not ashamed to admit we do not fully understand solar dynamics.
What precentage of solar dynanics does science believe it understands? I expect what we know about the sun is far less than 1% of what is yet waiting to be discovered. History shows repeatedly that the size of the unknown far exceeds the limits of our imagination.

John F. Hultquist

Leif,
Someone was commenting about charts in color and the 5% of the male population that had color challenges. I don’t but still have to struggle with the pale turquoise print under the phrase ‘Sunspot Number’ on the Cycle 24 chart.
Otherwise, I much appreciate your contributions. Thanks.

Joules Verne

I don’t understand what Svalgaard is saying. It sounds like a lot of double talk to obfuscate a fact he never diputes – this reading is comparable with readings at the same point in past solar cycles.

Sparks

Leif, cycle 14 in the chart has a positive curve and the cycle 24 chart has a negative curve they look to me like they are opposite trends, cycle 24 could hit max between 2013 and 2014 which could be a short sharp spike, were as 14 was a gradual peak, I’m not making a conclusion, just pointing to an obvious difference.

Geoff Sharp says:
January 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm
My prediction is for SC24 to be similar to SC5, and at present is still on track. I have used a method of counting SC24 more closely to way SC5 & SC6 were counted.
This is likely meaningless. SC5 and SC6 were re-counted by Wolfer [published in 1902] based on data from Kremsmunster. SC5 and SC6 were originally estimated [from other people’s data] by Wolf [never observed by him; wasn’t born until well into SC6], but then in 1874 increased by 25% based on comparisons with geomagnetic data, before finally replaced by Wolfer with his own estimates based on comparisons with his method.
Which of these methods are you ‘counting more closely to’?

Dave Archibald’s stated, “This is important,and there is a correlation between low Ap Index and cooling.”
I don’t understand. The AP index was low in the 1930s on your graph. Yet the summers were said to be very hot and the drought was very bad. The 1930s are known as the great Dust Bowl in the plains.
The winters were reported as very harsh, particularly in the early 30s. Floods, ice and snow storms, tornadoes, then the summers became progressively hotter and drier.

Geoff Sharp says:
January 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm
that should read
My prediction is for SC24 to be similar to SC5, and at present is still on track. I have used a method of counting SC24 more closely to way SC5 & SC6 were counted.

Still clubmsy. “to the way SC5 …”
😉
{ Ok ok, that too… -modE }

John F. Hultquist says:
January 4, 2012 at 10:23 pm
Someone was commenting about charts in color and the 5% of the male population that had color challenges. I don’t but still have to struggle with the pale turquoise print under the phrase ‘Sunspot Number’ on the Cycle 24 chart.
That curve is SSN calculated from F10.7 and is downplayed for the comparison I had in mind, so you were not supposed to notice it 🙂
Sparks says:
January 4, 2012 at 10:30 pm
I’m not making a conclusion, just pointing to an obvious difference.
The black curves are 1-yr smoothed and you should not attach much significance to them. The Sun does not, as each sunspot lives and dies on its own over a period of days to weeks. Weak cycles tend to oscillate a lot and SC14 is the prime example of that. SC24 also does that, but it is too early to tell. You can, of course, always dream [until the slope changes] 🙂

Ed Mertin says:
January 4, 2012 at 10:44 pm
Dave Archibald’s stated, “This is important,and there is a correlation between low Ap Index and cooling.” I don’t understand. The AP index was low in the 1930s on your graph. Yet the summers were said to be very hot and the drought was very bad. The 1930s are known as the great Dust Bowl in the plains.
Perhaps pay less attention to what Archibald says.

Joules Verne says:
January 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm
I don’t understand what Svalgaard is saying. It sounds like a lot of double talk to obfuscate a fact he never diputes – this reading is comparable with readings at the same point in past solar cycles.
Like the previous two cycles: http://www.leif.org/research/Active%20Region%Count.png ?