December solar activity in a big slump

The December data from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center is in, and it looks more and more like the peak of solar cycle 24 has been reached, and that we are now past it. Even with documented problems like “sunspot count inflation” the sunspot count for December is quite low:

sunspot[1]

Note the large difference between the prediction line in red, and the counts. There are other indications that our sun remains in a slump.

The 10.7cm solar radio flux seems to have peaked also. 

f10[1]

And, the Ap solar geomagnetic index has dropped to its observed second lowest value again (for recent years), which last happened in November 2011:

Ap[1]

Dr. David Hathaway updated his forecast recently. Here is the plot:

ssn_predict_l[1]

He thinks it will be the fall of 2013 though before the peak is reached

The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 69 in the Fall of 2013. The smoothed sunspot number has already reached 67 (in February 2012)due to the strong peak in late 2011 so the official maximum will be at least this high and this late. We are currently over four years into Cycle 24. The current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 which had a maximum of 64.2 in February of 1906.

The prediction method has been slightly revised. The previous method found a fit for both the amplitude and the starting time of the cycle along with a weighted estimate of the amplitude from precursor predictions (polar fields and geomagnetic activity near cycle minimum). Recent work [see Hathaway Solar Physics; 273, 221 (2011)] indicates that the equatorward drift of the sunspot latitudes as seen in the Butterfly Diagram follows a standard path for all cycles provided the dates are taken relative to a starting time determined by fitting the full cycle. Using data for the current sunspot cycle indicates a starting date of May of 2008. Fixing this date and then finding the cycle amplitude that best fits the sunspot number data yields the current (revised) prediction.

Perhaps, the sun right now seems to be having a spot resurgence:

latest_512_4500[2]

In other news, Dr. Svalgaard’s plot:

Solar Polar Fields – Mt. Wilson and Wilcox Combined -1966 to Present

…looks like it is getting ready to flip, suggesting the peak of Cycle 24 is imminent if not already past.

His predictions for cycle 24 are looking better and better.

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temp

Global cooling is going to suck alot.

Otter

Leif, if I may: You have been extremely conservative concerning papers which point to solar influences. Have you seen any papers, over the past few decades, which in your opinion, have a real chance of being accurate, re: solar climate change / cooling?

pkatt

I think the sun is secretly enjoying defying prediction /sarcoff I am totally enjoying the SOHO and SDO observations though.

markx

Relevtn NASA conference:
Nik says: January 8, 2013 at 11:10 pm
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/08jan_sunclimate/

The solar cycle signals are so strong in the Pacific, that Meehl and colleagues have begun to wonder if something in the Pacific climate system is acting to amplify them. “One of the mysteries regarding Earth’s climate system … is how the relatively small fluctuations of the 11-year solar cycle can produce the magnitude of the observed climate signals in the tropical Pacific.”
Using supercomputer models of climate, they show that not only “top-down” but also “bottom-up” mechanisms involving atmosphere-ocean interactions are required to amplify solar forcing at the surface of the Pacific.

Lew Skannen

A dilemma. On the one hand it seems that global cooling will have a rather deleterious effect on agriculture and the standard of living of the world in general and so should be dreaded.
On the other hand unless we somehow kill off this CAGW meme convincingly once and for all we are forever going to be at the mercy of political engineered pseudo-science.
I suspect we will be better off after a couple of decades off cooling if we can at least get science back onto a scientific basis.

Eliza

So far David Archibald 100% spot on from 3 years ago prediction (SSN ave max 40). The other magicians at NASA etc ALWAYS fail and only change their mind when the event actually is occurring eg Hathaways etc….very convenient.

Bloke down the pub

Plenty of time yet for Sol to play some more tricks on those who think they can predict the future.

Mick

January 2013 has stated with a bit of spurt:
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/SSN.htm
but is it going to last?

Henry Clark

temp says:
January 9, 2013 at 3:28 am
Global cooling is going to suck alot.
Certainly, in a number of ways. Not in all, though. Fighting nature brings people together and encourages advancement, like perhaps nuclear-heated greenhouse complexes with several growing seasons a year via temperature control, optimal elevated internal CO2 (far higher than even today), and other factors adding up to result in many times the yield per unit area of regular farms if needed. Lesser forms of greenhouse agriculture, though small relative to the total market, are already expanding today.
A bit more extreme example in different context:
“Thus the farmer in a typical American Midwestern farm who produces 100 bushels of corn per acre in a single season year [1970s figures] would look with astonishment on the space colony farmer who produces 4164 bushels of corn from a single acre in his 4-season year. While this factor of 40 is substantial, it is believed to be credible since a portion of it is derived from year-round growing.”
http://settlement.arc.nasa.gov/75SummerStudy/5appendC.html
The poorest nations least able to afford countermeasures are primarily near the tropics, which won’t cool much anyway, unlike higher latitudes, although impacts on food trade from elsewhere can occur.
The CAGW movement won’t be able to execute a switch to getting the cooling blamed on mankind this time, so they won’t be able to turn mankind against itself as much.

Darren

sun, i am disappoint

Henry Clark

In the last solar cycle, sunspots were declining much by 2002-2003, but reduction of magnetic deflection of GCRs did not really get going until 2004, which illustrates how they can be partially out of sync. But, over the next several years, cosmic ray flux will much change.
On the short term, there is also an echo effect of El Ninos releasing some previous ocean heat back to the atmosphere. Yet, on the scale of later this decade and beyond, the effects of transitioning into a cold Grand Minimum will be an interesting time as judged from the past: http://s7.postimage.org/69qd0llcr/intermediate.gif
The old global cooling articles like the old National Geographic of http://tinyurl.com/cxo4d3l correctly pointed out some aspects like more storms in a cooling world (greater polar-tropics temperature difference driving convection). No wonder “extreme weather” is starting to be extra hyped now (along with cherry-picking a single month post-storm on arctic ice extent rather than how the recent annual averages in http://www.webcitation.org/6AKKakUIo are comparable to the mid-1990s, which were in turn comparable arctic temperatures to the late 1930s in http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/ArcticIce/Images/arctic_temp_trends_rt.gif ).

@Nj_Snow_Fan

People have to realize the the sun is the main driver of the entire climate cycle on earth. Our solar system is always moving and when it comes into a region of more energy or less for the sun the cycles are much stronger or weaker. There is a cause and effect for everything and there is something we can not see yet that makes that happen. My feeling it is like the same thing when a hurricane is on open water and hits some warm water, it will intensify then when it move across colder water will weaken. Everything works the same in the universe, physics.
Just my feeling
P.S Anthony Watts, Thanks again for all your hard work on trying to keep the playing field even against the AGW’s. AWG’s have more power in media and government but they don’t have the true facts to back up claims.

Mike McMillan

If that spike a year ago was it, not good. Long way to go to get up to the red curve, and the red curve isn’t anything to brag about.
Fortunately we have excellent natural gas production to keep us warm, but unfortunately someone is intent on shutting down our coal fired electricity.

Bill Illis

Solar irradiance from the SORCE Tim instrument is still in the + 0.4 W/m2 higher than average range (mean in this instrument is about 1,361.25 W/m2). This might be a little lower than a typical solar cycle peak but not that much, maybe 0.1 W/m2 or so.
http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/total_solar_irradiance_plots/images/tim_level3_tsi_6hour_3month_640x480.png

Don Yeomans of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory :
Watch out for Apophis: Asteroid named after an Egyptian demon set to pass by Earth today
http://earthsky.org/space/asteroid-apophis-due-to-pass-close-in-2029

johndo9

During the previous cycle the magnetic “flip” was a year or so before the peak of the cycle, so there may be another year till the peak of this cycle. The double peak looks more and more likely.
The previous magnetic “flips” have taken 9.5 to 11 years. The magnetic cycle shown above looks to be 13 years (or more?) long. Will the next minimum be around 2022?

Philippe Chaniet

I have followed solar activity for over 20 years and find the current cycle fascinating. I am convinced that before this cycle is over the question of the influence of the sun on the climate will be answered or at the very least much clearer. It is likely that by then quite a few people will have mud on the face. But it is also likely that most people will claim they always believed the impact was larger than publicly stated. You cannot win such arguments. If, as expected, the next cycle is even weaker, the cacophony about global warming will quickly become almost comical. And it is only 10 years away: Not that long to wait really.

I’m quite happy letting the peak be defined as the pole flip instead of anything from the sunspot number (too variable) or 10.7 flux (too flat at peak). The magnetic flux is near its peak rate of change at the flip, so it provides the “cleanest” date for the peak.
As for the current crop of spots – recent cycles seem to have “naked-eye” (read: unmagnified and filtered) sunspots. These aren’t worth looking for.
If we’re entering a repeat of the Maunder Minimum, this may be the biggest crop of spots we’ll see for 70 or 80 years!

tadchem

I have been keeping an eye on the sunspot numbers since 2007 when the expected minimum between cyles 23 and 24 failed to materialize on time. It finally showed in 2009, 13 years after the previous minimum. See the long-term graphics at http://sidc.oma.be/sunspot-index-graphics/sidc_graphics.php
The only recurring theme is that forecasts of sunspot numbers have consistently been inaccurate – beyond the known statistical variances.

7552209

Great work Leif!
Any update on the Livingston and Penn effect?

Edim

Yes, December was low, but it’s rising again. We will have multiple peaks and a long plateau with the center on ~2014/15. Very slow and weak cycle. The next minimum not before 2021. Then it depends if it speeds up again or remain slow or even get slower. Then it’s a grand minimum (Eddy?).

BarryW

I’d love to see an overlay of all of Dr. Hathaway’s predictions on the actual data.

Damien Spillane

Otter
Try David Stockwell’s research
http://vixra.org/pdf/1108.0004v1.pdf

Manfred

AP Index minima for the last 6 years all occured in December.
Is this coincidence or did the solar magnetic field in recent years have a directional pattern with a distinct minimum in direction of the earth’s December position ?

wfrumkin

It appears that the sun had two peaks every cycle and January is the start of the second peak. I am wondering if that dicrotic notch in the graph has a theory to explain it? Can we say yet that last month was the mid point of the cycle?

Manfred

In the last 6 years, the Ap index distinct minima in December.
Is this coincidence, or had the solar magnetic field recently a directional pattern with a distinct minimum in direction of the earth’s December position ?

Rhys Jaggar

Henry Clark:
British tomato growers already use computer-controlled heating systems in glasshouses to allow a 9 month growing season in a climate which is marginal for domestic tomato growing and totally uncompetitive commercially in the outdoors. They collect rainwater from their roofs to water their plants. They either use organic waste in an anaerobic digester to become energy sufficient or, if they are owned by British Sugar and are located next to a heat source, draw heating through water pipes from the cooling towers to heat the glasshouses.
It’s already happening in many places.
The interesting question is what year-round production of vegetables means in terms of our global needs for grain crops (maize, wheat and rye).

Dermot O'Logical

Predicting the future is hard.
David Archibald’s own October 2010 attempt (http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/06/archibald-on-dr-hathaway%E2%80%99s-most-recent-solar-cycle-24-prediction/) is not holding up well:
Max SSN: 48
Year of maximum: 2015
No reversal of the Sun’s magnetic poles at Solar Cycle 24 maximum.
Leif’s 2005 prediction still looks better:
Max SSN: 75 +/- 2.8 (“arbitrarily” adjusted to +/- 8)
Year of maximum: ~2011
For your further entertainment, the NOAA site links to this: http://solarphysics.livingreviews.org/Articles/lrsp-2010-6/fulltext.html which lists a series of papers predicting SC24 SSN(max).

kramer

I see the “Solar Polar Fields” levels have been getting smaller since the 70’s. I wonder if they will be looked into at some point in the near future and ‘adjusted’ in such a way that they are close to the same level through all cycles?

Dave D

Henry Clark says: “The CAGW movement won’t be able to execute a switch to getting the cooling blamed on mankind this time, so they won’t be able to turn mankind against itself as much.”
Dave says, “Want to bet?” I think the whole move to the verbiage of Climate Change was due to some of the least sincere, but most educated people – with the most to lose, knew this Warming would not continue ad infinitum, even though their models said so. You will here new caveats – people will say, the damage we did through Ozone loss or some such crap, is responsible for the abrupt change in direction. Rather than saying, after 0.8 degree drop, should it occur in 5 years, that we are now neutral after 125 years of thermometer records, they will be blasting about how bad the climate will get. It will be our fault, trust me. There’s too much money to be made with calls for disaster. Not knocking you Henry, at all, I just know human nature, greed and guilt.

Jeff L

Of course, just in the last few days, the sun has had it’s biggest spike in the NOAA sunspot number in over a year. See link:
http://www.solen.info/solar/
I would say it’s a little too early to call the peak just yet

Otter says:
January 9, 2013 at 3:34 am
Leif, if I may: You have been extremely conservative concerning papers which point to solar influences. Have you seen any papers, over the past few decades, which in your opinion, have a real chance of being accurate, re: solar climate change / cooling?
No. Recent papers just continue the endless stream of such claims going back to Riccioli [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Battista_Riccioli ]. In his Almagestrum Novum, he stated that colder temperatures are associated with more sunspots ‘basing his comments on observations’.
General comment: when discussing when maximum is it is humbling to consider cycle 14: http://www.solen.info/solar/cycl14.html

Manfred says:
January 9, 2013 at 5:17 am
In the last 6 years, the Ap index distinct minima in December.
Is this coincidence, or had the solar magnetic field recently a directional pattern with a distinct minimum in direction of the earth’s December position ?

Geomagnetic activity is generally [normally] lower at the solstices, and Ap based mainly on northern hemisphere stations tend to be lower in winter than in summer. That said, the solar wind has also been less active in December the last several years. This is a coincidence.

Doug Huffman

@Bill itis, measured pan evaporation rates have been declining for decades.
Roderick, Michael L. and Graham D. Farquhar (2002). “The cause of decreased pan evaporation over the past 50 years”. Science 298 (5597): pp. 1410–1411 http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/298/5597/1410. Bibcode 2002Sci…298.1407D. doi:10.1126/science.1075390. PMID 12434057.

Geoff

I think the warmers will only be put on the defensive when the Arctic Sea ice extent moves into above normal territory. They say the Atlantic will return to its cool phase within five years. Certainly, they will mutate as before, but this change will really challenge their entire position.

jcarels

It would be nice if SC24 did the same as SC9. http://www.carels.be/sc9.jpg
We’re alsmost there :). Not sure how good SC9 was observed, but it would be nice to see such explosion of activity.

Neill

Doug Huffman says:
January 9, 2013 at 6:34 am
Link not working.

@NJ_Snow_Fan

A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), Posted 1/8/2012 on their site
Link was posted by some one else but they said something that was interesting.
Indeed, the sun could be on the threshold of a mini-Maunder event right now. Ongoing Solar Cycle 24 is the weakest in more than 50 years. Moreover, there is (controversial) evidence of a long-term weakening trend in the magnetic field strength of sunspots. Matt Penn and William Livingston of the National Solar Observatory predict that by the time Solar Cycle 25 arrives, magnetic fields on the sun will be so weak that few if any sunspots will be formed. Independent lines of research involving helioseismology and surface polar fields tend to support their conclusion. (Note: Penn and Livingston were not participants at the NRC workshop.)
Good read
http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/08jan_sunclimate/
I tell you one thing, that COULD word is used alot when ever CLIMATE is mentioned.

Gail Combs

Dave D says:
January 9, 2013 at 5:57 am
Henry Clark says: “The CAGW movement won’t be able to execute a switch to getting the cooling blamed on mankind this time, so they won’t be able to turn mankind against itself as much.”
Dave says, “Want to bet?” …. Not knocking you Henry, at all, I just know human nature, greed and guilt.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Unfortunately they already did the flip from NEW ICE AGE – Global Cooling to CAGW, Global Warming to the all inclusive Climate Change, Extreme Weather.
I already had a very nice Church lady explaining to me how CO2 causes Global Warming And Global Cooling And Extreme Weather. (Eye Roll)
The sheer stupidity of the sheeple is amazing. The fact the US Federal Reserve and similar fraudulent banking practices have run for a century or more bankrupting countries only proves it.

…Some of the most frank evidence on banking practices was given by Graham F. Towers, Governor of the Central Bank of Canada (from 1934 to 1955), before the Canadian Government’s Committee on Banking and Commerce, in 1939…
Q. But there is no question about it that banks create the medium of exchange?
Mr. Towers: That is right. That is what they are for… That is the Banking business, just in the same way that a steel plant makes steel. (p. 287)
The manufacturing process consists of making a pen-and-ink or typewriter entry on a card in a book. That is all. (pp. 76 and 238) Each and every time a bank makes a loan (or purchases securities), new bank credit is created — new deposits — brand new money. (pp. 113 and 238) Broadly speaking, all new money comes out of a Bank in the form of loans. As loans are debts, then under the present system all money is debt. (p. 459)….
Q. Then we authorize the banks to issue a substitute for money?
Mr. Towers: Yes, I think that is a very fair statement of banking. (p. 285)
Q. 12 per cent of the money in use in Canada is issued by the Government through the Mint and the Bank of Canada, and 88 per cent is issued by the merchant banks of Canada on the reserves issued by the Bank of Canada?
Mr. Towers: Yes.
Q. But if the issue of currency and money is a high prerogative of government, then that high prerogative has been transferred to the extent of 88 per cent from the Government to the merchant banking system?
Mr. Towers: Yes. (p. 286)
Q. Will you tell me why a government with power to create money, should give that power away to a private monopoly, and then borrow that which parliament can create itself, back at interest, to the point of national bankruptcy?
Mr. Towers: If parliament wants to change the form of operating the banking system, then certainly that is within the power of parliament.
(p. 394)…..

In the USA it is 95% and we pay ‘interest’ to the bankers on all of it. Yet the sheeple continue to pay their taxes to service the federal debt, pay their mortgages, pay their credit card bills, student loans, car loans… all fairy dust ‘money’ pulled out of thin air and paid back with the sweat of their labor.
If the sheeple can not understand something as simple as the fractional reserve scam and DEMAND their ‘representatives’ abolish the system, then do not expect them to do anything about a more complex scam like CAGW.
The Russians have it figured out. The Central Bank of Russia issues gold and silver bullion pieces that ‘must be accepted’ as legal tender and as E.M Smith shows The Russian federation has a flat income tax rate of 13%. so their economy is doing quite well. The Russians also think Man Made Global Warming is a Myth
Pretty lowering when the Russians are leading the way towards a more rational economy isn’t it?

Doug Huffman

Normative and prescriptive assertions, statements characterized by WOULD, SHOULD, COULD, have no inherent truth value. They moot culpable error and falsifiability. They signal adhockery.

Rob Potter

Leif,
Given that SSN has been over-counted in recent years, I understand why you are not a supporter of the GCR-cloud link between solar activity and global temperatures. However, even removing the recent (50 years or so) correlation now considered to be spurious, there are other correlations between SSN and global temperatures. Do you place any confidence in the historical SSN numbers, such that these older correlations still hold? And, following on from this, how much do think this represents a causal link?
I would love to hear if you have thoughts on a mechanism for any possible causality, but I realize that you are not one to go beyond the data and I appreciate your caution in this regard.

van Loon

The sunspot peak was in the northern autumn of 2012. Forget the fcsts, nobody can forecast the sun’s variation with any accuracy.

Gail Combs

Doug Huffman says:
January 9, 2013 at 6:34 am
@Bill itis, measured pan evaporation rates have been declining for decades…..
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
working link
I wonder if it might have something to do with this although I doubt it is that sensitive to such a long slow process.
It is certainly interesting considering the global relative humidity has decreased so all things being equal pan evaporation rates should have increased.

milodonharlani

China is on ice, along with much else of the Northern Hemisphere. Its cold (as measured by ground stations) is unprecedented in the satellite era:
http://news.yahoo.com/chinas-extreme-cold-snaps-records-141522805.html

milodonharlani

PS: Not surprisingly, climate “scientists” blame the extreme cold on global warming, to which cause without evidence (indeed in the face of all actual evidence) they attribute last year’s Arctic ice melt.

Bill

I am a scientist but have not looked deeply into the sunspot cycle or the PDO and effect on temperature. I think the next ten years or so will be a very interesting test of natural variability versus CO2. From about 1900-1920 or 1925 (from GISS) the temp. cooled and/or rose slowly (depending on land vs. land/ocean) and the PDO was in a slightly warm phase. With a small sunspot cycle and PDO apparently moving to cool, may give us some good information.

Rob Potter says:
January 9, 2013 at 7:17 am
Do you place any confidence in the historical SSN numbers, such that these older correlations still hold? And, following on from this, how much do think this represents a causal link?
I think the [corrected] Wolf SSNs back to 1700 are close to the truth, and if so, many of the older correlations don’t hold up anymore.
I would love to hear if you have thoughts on a mechanism for any possible causality
There should be [and people claim they find it] an 11-yr temperature variation of the order of 0.1 degrees simply due to the solar cycle variation of TSI. Beyond that, I don’t think any mechanisms or variations have been established.

Lew Skannen says:
January 9, 2013 at 3:45 am
A dilemma. On the one hand it seems that global cooling will have a rather deleterious effect on agriculture and the standard of living of the world in general and so should be dreaded.
On the other hand unless we somehow kill off this CAGW meme convincingly once and for all we are forever going to be at the mercy of political engineered pseudo-science.
I suspect we will be better off after a couple of decades off cooling if we can at least get science back onto a scientific basis.

Not to worry. Genetically-modified wheat has shown an increase in yields of 30%. That will probably compensate for cooling’s effect on agriculture, if we can stop the eco-fascists like Greenpeace from derailing progress. See here on one scientist’s conversion to rationality:
http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2013/01/08/environmental-scientist-bashed-for-rediscovering-science/#.UOymMFedbg0.email
Apparently this Mark Lynas has been active in the Climatist cult, too. Wonder if he’ll return to science there, too.
/Mr Lynn

pochas

Doug Huffman says:
January 9, 2013 at 6:34 am
“@Bill itis, measured pan evaporation rates have been declining for decades…..”
Gale Combs says:
“It is certainly interesting considering the global relative humidity has decreased so all things being equal pan evaporation rates should have increased.”
Increased cosmic rays causing accelerated water cycle, dessication of the atmosphere?
This would have no relationship to the earth’s energy balance, but might it affect regional precipitation patterns, especially continental interiors?