Normally, I run this post around the end of the first week of the month, but this month there was a problem. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) botched the March SSN graph with incorrect data and was somewhat reticent to get it updated. Dr. Leif Svalgaard wrote to me on 3/7/12 after I asked him:
Why is there no Feb data on the NOAA graphs even though they show a March 6 update? Very odd. Are they holding out for better data?
I have had a long email exchange with Doug Biesecker who is in charge of this. If you look at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/weekly/RecentIndices.txt for December 2011, you see that the data there is that for February 2011. Apparently when they tried to enter data for February 2012 [which is 33.1] they lost that and instead dumped Feb. 2011 on December. Don’t ask how this is possible, we all screw up now and then. The bad news is they don’t know when it will be fixed [!!!]. I suggested just fixing it in the file and replot right now. But they want to find out exactly what the problem is. I suggested that if they just fixed manually right now, they would have all the time in the world to figure out what went wrong, but no cigar. As I said to him:
“your problem should not stop you from a temporary fix involving a few minutes of work, for the benefit of a waiting world that would like to think that NOAA produces reliable data”.
After some additional consideration on the part of NOAA, I’m happy to report they finally got it updated. What we see are three months of dropping sunspot numbers when they should be on the rise. While some variability is normal, compare this drop to the previous cycle.
Like the SSN, the 10.7cm flux is also down for the 3rd straight month:
And, the Ap Geomagnetic index, a proxy for the solar dynamo, is still bumping along the bottom portion of the scale where normally it would be approaching higher levels leading up to solar maximum: