Recent paper finds 1950-2009 Solar Grand Maximum was a 'rare or even unique event' in 3,000 years

Sun said to be “bi-modal”

While many, including the IPCC, suggest the modern Grand Maximum of solar activity from 1950-2009 has nothing to do with the 0.4C global warming measured over that time frame, it does seem to be unique in the last three millennia.

from CO2 Science: A 3,000-Year Record of Solar Activity

What was done

According to Usoskin et al. (2014), the Sun “shows strong variability in its magnetic activity, from Grand minima to Grand maxima, but the nature of the variability is not fully understood, mostly because of the insufficient length of the directly observed solar activity records and of uncertainties related to long-term reconstructions.” Now, however, in an attempt to overcome such uncertainties, in a Letter to the Editor published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, Usoskin et al. “present the first fully adjustment-free physical reconstruction of solar activity” covering the past 3,000 years, which record allowed them “to study different modes of solar activity at an unprecedented level of detail.”

What was learned

As illustrated in the figure below, the authors report there is “remarkable agreement” among the overlapping years of their reconstruction (solid black line) and the number of sunspots recorded from direct observations since 1610 (red line). Their reconstruction of solar activity also displays several “distinct features,” including several “well-defined Grand minima of solar activity, ca. 770 BC, 350 BC, 680 AD, 1050 AD, 1310 AD, 1470 AD, and 1680 AD,” as well as “the modern Grand maximum (which occurred during solar cycles 19-23, i.e., 1950-2009),” which they describe as “a rare or even unique event, in both magnitude and duration, in the past three millennia.”

 

Figure 1. Reconstructed decadal average of sunspot numbers for the period 1150 BC-1950 AD (black line). The 95% confidence interval is shown by the gray shading and directly measured sunspot numbers are shown in red. The horizontal dashed lines demark the bounds of the three suggested modes (Grand Minimum, Regular, and Grand Maximum) as defined by Usoskin et al.

Further statistical analysis of their reconstruction revealed the Sun operates in three distinct modes of activity – (1) a regular mode that “corresponds to moderate activity that varies in a relatively narrow band between sunspot numbers 20 and 67,” (2) a Grand minimum mode of reduced solar activity that “cannot be explained by random fluctuations of the regular mode” and which “is confirmed at a high confidence level,” and (3), a possible Grand maximum mode, but they say that “the low statistic does not allow us to firmly conclude on this, yet.”

What it means

Usoskin et al. (2014) write their results “provide important constraints for both dynamo models of Sun-like stars and investigations of possible solar influence on Earth’s climate.” They also illustrate the importance of improving the quality of such reconstructions, in light of the fact that previous reconstructions of this nature “did not reveal any clear signature of distinct modes” in solar activity.

Unfortunately, it was beyond the scope of this paper to address the potential impact of solar activity on climate. Yet the reconstruction leaves a very big question unanswered — What effect did the Grand maximum of solar activity that occurred between 1950 and 2009 have on Earth’s climate? As a “unique” and “rare” event in terms of both magnitude and duration, one would think a lot more time and effort would be spent by the IPCC and others in answering that question. Instead, IPCC scientists have conducted relatively few studies of the Sun’s influence on modern warming, assuming that the temperature influence of this rare and unique Grand maximum of solar activity, which has occurred only once in the past 3,000 years, is far inferior to the radiative power provided by the rising CO2 concentration of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Reference

Usoskin, I.G., Hulot, G., Gallet, Y., Roth, R., Licht, A., Joos, F., Kovaltsov, G.A., Thebault, E. and Khokhlov, A. 2014. Evidence for distinct modes of solar activity. Astronomy and Astrophysics 562: L10, doi: 10.1051/0004-6361/201423391.

Abstract

Aims. The Sun shows strong variability in its magnetic activity, from Grand minima to Grand maxima, but the nature of the variability is not fully understood, mostly because of the insufficient length of the directly observed solar activity records and of uncertainties related to long-term reconstructions. Here we present a new adjustment-free reconstruction of solar activity over three millennia and study its different modes.

Methods. We present a new adjustment-free, physical reconstruction of solar activity over the past three millennia, using the latest verified carbon cycle, 14C production, and archeomagnetic field models. This great improvement allowed us to study different modes of solar activity at an unprecedented level of details.

Results. The distribution of solar activity is clearly bi-modal, implying the existence of distinct modes of activity. The main regular activity mode corresponds to moderate activity that varies in a relatively narrow band between sunspot numbers 20 and 67. The existence of a separate Grand minimum mode with reduced solar activity, which cannot be explained by random fluctuations of the regular mode, is confirmed at a high confidence level. The possible existence of a separate Grand maximum mode is also suggested, but the statistics is too low to reach a confident conclusion.

Conclusions. The Sun is shown to operate in distinct modes – a main general mode, a Grand minimum mode corresponding to an inactive Sun, and a possible Grand maximum mode corresponding to an unusually active Sun. These results provide important constraints for both dynamo models of Sun-like stars and investigations of possible solar influence on Earth’s climate.

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Gino

anxiously awaiting Dr. Svalgaard’s comments.
Actually not trolling here. I really wish to see the debates with regard to solar activity and how it affects our planet.

noaaprogrammer

How does this graph correlate with proxies for global temperature over this time span?

“anxiously awaiting Dr. Svalgaard’s comments.”
there is no modern maximum.

Gary Hladik

Steven Mosher says (August 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm): “there is no modern maximum.”
Thank you, Dr. Svalgaard. 🙂
(Actually, that response by Dr. Svalgaard would be my first guess, too.)

Steven Mosher says:
“there is no modern maximum.”
Sounds like denial to me. So just what should we call it? A hockey stick?

TedM

Sorry I forgot the science was settled. Just that this, and other papers conclude otherwise.

thingadonta

Looks like a hockeystick. Reg flag. Problems with methodology likely.
The MWP doesn’t show up either, but the LIA does.
I don’t suppose highest activity in 3000 years could have anything to do with warming since 1950 though, if you are an IPCC scientist.

norah4you

More information needed regarding Methodology. Which method was used to find correct input-values for period before 1980? How has the analyse program been constructed and so on…..

looncraz

noaaprogrammer says:
“How does this graph correlate with proxies for global temperature over this time span?”
Quite well, it seems, from a quick look.
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/2000-years-of-global-temperatures1.jpg

The Solar Sunspot Number Workshop group came out with their paper:
http://www.leif.org/research/Revisiting-the-Sunspot-Number.pdf
“Grand Maximum” gets reduced, if not eliminated.

The possible existence of a separate Grand maximum mode is also suggested, but the statistics is too low to reach a confident conclusion.
says it all. there is no modern grand maximum.

Leif maybe right for the wrong reasons, put all this aside. I’ve been studying the speed and movement of the suns polar-field. I know when it travels faster from either geographical pole, it produces more sunspots (according to its rate of rotation), it also produces exactly what Leif says. which is “dynamo” this “dynamo” that. which is in fact produced by the suns polar field.
I’m sick of Leif’s refusal to acknowledge that I’m correct.

Perfect example of how assuming the “science is settled” on the impact of C02 on climate stifles much needed scientific research. I still think that the theories and work done by Svenmark and others (see http://www.thecloudmystery.com/The_Cloud_Mystery/The_Documentary.html )and others on sunspot correlation to climate change seem to hold much more weight and predictive value then the C02 being the dominant driver.. I am impressed (and surprised!) that “C02 science” was so straightforward in bringing to our attention that there is much more research needed in this area. (And that IPCC clearly lacks studies in this area).

coolclimateinfo

This was covered in Feb: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/22/usoskin-et-al-discover-a-new-class-of-sunspots/ where a lively discussion by Willis, Leif, Greg, and many others panned the paper based on technicalities, although Willis said “They may be correct, anything’s possible … but their analysis doesn’t even come near to establishing that claim of distinct solar “modes”.”
I don’t know who is correct but it’s still interesting. The solar mode today is that SSN=93.

Pamela Gray

“Adjustment free” needs to be defined. All proxies are by nature “adjustments”. And which SSN data set did the author use to draw that red line? Call me unimpressed by the use of the loaded phrase: “adjustment free”.

ren

Simultaneously with the increase in solar activity until 2000 in the last 500 years can be seen weakening Earth’s magnetic field and an increase in cosmic rays. This means a strong increase in the GCR in the case of low solar activity. It will be a lot of clouds over the oceans …
http://oi62.tinypic.com/2hy52s.jpg

Hoser

Right, no grand maximum. And cycle 24 doesn’t have two peaks either. Stop looking at the data, there are not two peaks. And Picard didn’t see 5 lights, only four, right?

coolclimateinfo

What ever I have said or disagreed with or contested wrt Dr. Svalgaard shall be set aside for a one minute recognition of his and the other peoples involved MONUMENTAL task of reconstructing the sunspot number series. It will be seen through the ages as an historic scientific acheivement. Congratulations Dr. Svalgaard et al.
I noticed five references to Usoskin, I.G in http://www.leif.org/research/Revisiting-the-Sunspot-Number.pdf , so I.G.U. can’t be all bad!

cirby

Of course, a number of years ago, a Very Serious Climate Scientist informed me, with absolutely zero doubt, that “insolation is a constant.”

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Clearly the paper is untrustworthy as it is using made-up numbers. Figure 1 X-axis purports to show BC/AD yet has Year 0.
Or did they solve the graphing problem by interpolating across the 1BC to 1AD gap?
The distribution of solar activity is clearly bi-modal, implying the existence of distinct modes of activity.
and
The Sun is shown to operate in distinct modes – a main general mode, a Grand minimum mode corresponding to an inactive Sun, and a possible Grand maximum mode corresponding to an unusually active Sun.
The Sun is clearly bi-modal, as it is shown to possibly have three modes.
This appears to be as how a cat is bi-modal, as it can be sleeping, awake, and possibly very awake.

Leif Svalgaard says:
August 6, 2014 at 9:26 pm
“The possible existence of a separate Grand maximum mode is also suggested, but the statistics is too low to reach a confident conclusion.”
“says it all. there is no modern grand maximum.”
That quote is taken from the abstract referring to a part of the paper [section 3] discussing whether or not solar activity is bimodal, a separate issue from the confidence in the reconstruction of relative levels of solar activity shown in Fig. 2 above. The full paper is here and states with 95% confidence levels that the modern Grand minimum was a rare or even unique event.
http://www.aanda.org/articles/aa/pdf/2014/02/aa23391-14.pdf
“Figure 2 shows the resulting mean series together with the
corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI). This reconstructed
solar activity displays a number of distinct features, in particular
well-defined Grand minima of solar activity, ca. 770 BC,
350 BC, 680 AD, 1050 AD, 1310 AD, 1470 AD, and 1680 AD
(cf. Table 1 in Usoskin et al. 2007). Despite uncertainties in
the directly observed sunspot numbers before 1848 (Svalgaard
2012; Leussu et al. 2013), remarkable agreement is found with
the decadal group sunspot numbers (Hoyt & Schatten 1998) that
were directly observed since 1610 AD (also shown), and indicates
that the modern Grand maximum (which occurred during
solar cycles 19–23, i.e., 1950–2009) was a rare or even unique
event, in both magnitude and duration, in the past three millennia.
Except for these extreme cases, our reconstruction otherwise
reveals that solar activity is well confined within a relatively narrow
range.”
Thus, whether or not the Sun is “bimodal” is beside the point. The paper states based upon the reconstruction shown in Fig 2 with 95% confidence levels that there was indeed a “rare or even unique” modern Grand Maximum.

The possible existence of a separate Grand maximum mode is also suggested, but the statistics is too low to reach a confident conclusion“.
Meaning: The data don’t support it, but since this is our hypothesis, we must include it in the paper’s results anyway.
Kind of like in AR5: medium confidence that the ECS is likely [read “possibly”] between 1.5°C and 4.5°C [or almost any value].

Error in comment I just posted: Obviously meant to write “The full paper is here and states with 95% confidence levels that the modern Grand Maximum was a rare or even unique event.”

What bothers me is that the very end of the black line diverges significantly from the red line. While I believe there is evidence of two modes — a normal and a quiet mode — I don’t believe we have evidence for a “grand maximum” mode of the scale they describe. It is likely they used the older sunspot counts. That said, we DO seem to be in a rather quiet cycle.

The error Usoskin et al. commit is two-fold:
1) splicing the ‘instrumental’ record on to the end of the cosmic ray record, a la Mann’s hockey stick
2) assuming that the group sunspot number is correct, when it is not. There is a serious discontinuity of about 50% around 1885.
Here is what the curves should look like http://www.leif.org/research/Decadal-Directly-Observed-Sunspot-Numbers.png
The green curve shows the revised values. Also note the problem shown by the blue double-arrow.

Hockey Schtick says:
August 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm
“remarkable agreement is found with the decadal group sunspot numbers (Hoyt & Schatten 1998)”
It is the Hoyt & Schatten series [1998] that is incorrect.

joelobryan

When I look at where the Ap geomagnetic index is today and where the historical proxies have reconstructed it as being in the last 300 years, all I can say is…
Buy coal mining stocks!! Once people start freezing in 5 years, and the McKibben’s of the world chased off as fools, COAL is going to be so needed to save our butts.

What about the “blue Sun” of the late 500s? I recall that it was widely debated some years ago. It was commented on by various ancient historians from Europe to China: Flavius Cassiodorus wrote”The Sun…seems to have lost its wonted light, and appears of a bluish colour. We marvel to see no shadows of our bodies at noon, to feel the mighty vigour of the Sun’s heat wasted into feebleness, and the phenomena which accompany an eclipse prolonged through almost a whole year. We have had a summer without heat. The crops have been chilled by north winds, [and] the rain is denied.”

joelobryan

errata to last: 3,000 years, not 300 years.

Hockey Schtick says: August 6, 2014 at 10:17 pm
“Obviously meant to write “The full paper is here and states with 95% confidence levels that the modern Grand Maximum was a rare or even unique event.””

Well, that version is certainly wrong. They didn’t attach 95% confidence to that statement.

Leon palmer

Sadly, it looks like a hockey stick 🙁
Waiting to hear what Steve McIntyre says…

ren

“Very High Energy Cosmic Rays: When high energy cosmic rays undergo collisions with atoms of the upper atmosphere, they produce a cascade of “secondary” particles that shower down through the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface. Secondary cosmic rays include pions (which quickly decay to produce muons, neutrinos and gamma rays), as well as electrons and positrons produced by muon decay and gamma ray interactions with atmospheric atoms. The number of particles reaching the Earth’s surface is related to the energy of the cosmic ray that struck the upper atmosphere. Cosmic rays with energies beyond 10^14 eV are studied with large “air shower” arrays of detectors distributed over many square kilometers that sample the particles produced. The frequency of air showers ranges from about 100 per m2 per year for energies >10^15 eV to only about 1 per km2 per century for energies beyond 10^20 eV. Cosmic ray interaction products such as neutrinos are also studied by large detectors placed deep in underground mines or under water.
Most secondary cosmic rays reaching the Earth’s surface are muons, with an average intensity of about 100 per m2 per second. Although thousands of cosmic rays pass through our bodies every minute, the resulting radiation levels are relatively low, corresponding, at sea level, to only a few percent of the natural background radiation. However, the greater intensity of cosmic rays in outer space is a potential radiation hazard for astronauts, especially when the Sun is active, and interplanetary space may suddenly be filled with solar energetic particles. Cosmic rays are also a hazard to electronic instrumentation in space; impacts of heavily-ionizing cosmic ray nuclei can cause computer memory bits to “flip” or small microcircuits to fail.”
The increase of neutrons (part of secondary radiation) since 1992.
http://cosmicrays.oulu.fi/webform/query.cgi?startday=01&startmonth=01&startyear=1990&starttime=00%3A00&endday=05&endmonth=08&endyear=2014&endtime=00%3A00&resolution=Automatic+choice&picture=on
http://www.srl.caltech.edu/personnel/dick/cos_encyc.html

ren

Us see with their own eyes the state of cloud cover over the oceans.
http://www.sat24.com/image2.ashx?region=world&time=false&index=1

ren

Looks like a hockey stick

OT, but :
http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/18864-lawless-billionaire-club-behind-green-scam-senate-study-finds?utm_source=Newsletter&
Population control freak Bill Gates front & centre.
$360 billion + pa taxpayers money involved in “Green” scare.

Nick Stokes says:
August 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm
“Well, that version is certainly wrong. They didn’t attach 95% confidence to that statement.”
I am clarifying that Leif’s quote about inadequate confidence on whether the Sun is “bimodal” or not was not relating to the reconstruction in Fig. 2, which is shown with 95% confidence levels and supports the statements made by the authors in the same paragraph relating to Fig 2 that there was a “rare or even unique” modern Grand Maximum. Do you seriously believe the authors would make that claim without caveats of statistical confidence based upon a reconstruction with 95% confidence levels, while also pointing out that their claim that a Grand Maximum “mode” of “bimodal” behavior is not statistically significant? To do so IMHO would border upon academic fraud.
Leif Svalgaard says:
August 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm
“The error Usoskin et al. commit is two-fold:…
2) assuming that the group sunspot number is correct, when it is not. There is a serious discontinuity of about 50% around 1885.”
Well, although he’s not here to defend his paper, apparently Dr. Usoskin disagrees that Hoyt & Schatten has been falsified, otherwise why would he compare his reconstruction to a paper you say was previously falsified? Fig 2 does show a remarkable correspondence between Hoyt & Schatten’s group sunspot numbers and the reconstructed values where they overlap, thus the two disparate data sources appear to corroborate each other. Upon what scientific basis do you claim that sunspot observations, with all the uncertainties inherent in human observations over the past 400 years are necessarily a better proxy for solar activity than a radiocarbon proxy?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

From David Thomas Bronzich on August 6, 2014 at 10:28 pm:

What about the “blue Sun” of the late 500s?

Here is linked a 1999 San Jose Mercury News piece from 1999 for which the text is copied there. Even NASA gives the newspaper link here which is going 404. Checking the Wayback Machine, the earliest saves are going 302 (redirect) to an unwanted site. So you will have to accept the first link is the true original text, or not.
In Earth Battered Through History by Comets published Tuesday, August 17, 1999, in the San Jose Mercury News, it talks of how an upcoming book “…describes a two-year-long winter that began in AD
535.” That’s when Flavius Cassiodorus wrote that, given elsewhere as specifically 536 AD.
But as noted elsewhere, Mount Vesuvius had an eruption in 536 AD. As these things go, there may have been venting beforehand or the exact year may be slightly off, etc.
Or there really could have been a double, comet impact and middling volcano eruption.
Either case, the description fits an aerosol event of some kind. The key is the mention of a lack of shadows at noon (midday high point), indicating diffuse light. Even if the Sun had gone briefly wonky, it’s still basically a point source of light, there still would have been shadows.

Neville

This is O/T but I would like someone from California to comment on this video or transcript from ABC 4 corners program. (Australia)
This is all about renewable energy but mostly about new solar technology and according to them everything is just wonderful in Brown’s California. I hope Anthony may have a chance to watch it and could someone tell us how sound your economy is at the moment and what is your comparative cost of electricity?
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2014/07/07/4038488.htm

Sun modes of operation are bi-modal all right.
To illustrated this take a closer look at this illustration
first image – sun changes its frequency of oscillations in blocs of about 100 years, periods change from about 10,5 to 11 years in each block alternatively.
middle image – sunspot number SSN usually presented as a dimensionless value, and that is fine as long as one doesn’t care what it is suppose to represent. It represents solar magnetic activity with a distinct and opposite magnetic polarity in each hemisphere, two do not cancel each other. Two distinct open flux magnetic entities are separated by the heliospheric current sheet (HCS), all the way from corona to the far reaches of the solar system.
An arbitrary polarity can be assigned, but it can not be ignored, this is particularly important if one considers solar activity on the earth’s weather and climate events.
Based on the observational evidence, NASA has come to recognise some distinct properties of even and odd cycles (see second part of this video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nVqWH5Qlg8Y#t=0
This is vehemently disputed by the ‘old school’ with intentions of freezing solar science to decade(s) old ‘theories’, now proved, as the NASA spokesman admitted, to be incorrect.
Richard Feynman had something to say about relationship of assumed ‘theory’ and observational evidence.
Without clear understanding of the sunspot cycles polarity in relation to the polarity of the Earth’s magnetic field, I doubt that science will be able at any time soon to disentangle the solar impact on our climate, but many may not accept this.
last image – This is a new concept, and may or may not be relevant. It is sunspot cycle polarity, i.e. even and odd cycle external phase relationship with/in the intrinsic ‘stable heliospheric magnetic field’, as distinct from the variable heliospheric magnetic field emanating from the sun.
This might be highly controversial, but I found direct evidence of it in the phase relationship between high latitudes (where two magnetic fields are the strongest) atmospheric pressure and surface temperatures.
Finally: I am of the view that it is pointless to try to explain solar behaviour or influence on the climate, unless science can understand basics (at least) of what has been observed and recorded during last 300 or so years.
Thank you for your attention, the comment is far longer than my usual contributions.

Martin

Who has has the right to define what is Grand Maximum ?? Has it ever been done ?? Where is the definition of what Grand maximum is ?? Just make it first , and discus this matter after that !! It will bee very interesting to see who will take right to define the fenomen 🙂
Have we ever seen Grand Minimum ?? Should we wait for another 10000 years to recognice : May bee this was the Grand maximum anyway 🙂 Pity that nobody of us , will ever know if this was it or not ! Seems that all are talking about Grand maximum or Minimum without knowing the real definition. Should that bee agreed first ?
You can read it here , but thats just one definition .
http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/aa7704-07.pdf
Martin

Leif Svalgaard says: (August 6, 2014 at 10:21 pm) “The error Usoskin et al. commit is two-fold:
1) splicing the ‘instrumental’ record on to the end of the cosmic ray record, a la Mann’s hockey stick
“.
Thanks, Leif, but I think there’s a bit more to be said:
(a) In Mann’s hockey stick it wasn’t made clear that the instrumental record had been spliced in, and it wasn’t made clear that two segments of proxy data that didn’t agree with the instrumental record had been removed. In this graph, the instrumental record is clearly identified, and while no proxy record has been removed (presumably), there is a clear divergence towards the end of the proxy record [crosspatch August 6, 2014 at 10:18 pm].
(b) But more importantly, the granularity of the proxy record is necessarily larger than that of the instrumental record. By ‘granularity’ I mean the individual time periods that can be satisfactorily distinguished within the record. So it is still not legitimate to show the two records together without a proper explanation that like is not being compared with like.

Greg Goodman

“What effect did the Grand maximum of solar activity that occurred between 1950 and 2009 have on Earth’s climate? ”
It’s difficult to see from thier overlayed graph exactly how far their reconstruction runs in date.
However, this idea of a “grand max” running as far a 2009 seems very odd. Peaks in SSN have been dropping since 1960 Claiming it ran to the belated solar minimum on 2009 does not seem justified. If 2009 was part of the “max” so was 1915 !!
http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1001
1950-1990 might pass.
Svalgaard’s attempts to redefine the record have not been accepted offically and he will surely pop by to say “there is no grand maximum” at some stage.
However, even with his corrections there is a striking resemblance between SST and SSN:
http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=981

I agree with Bob Weber that Svalgaard and many colleagues deserve a lot of credit for all the work they did in the past few years on reconstructing the sunspot record.
Now in their most recent paper http://www.leif.org/research/Revisiting-the-Sunspot-Number.pdf
we read on page 66/67 (my bold):
Now, except for the highest recorded cycle (19), the maxima of highest cycles of the past
centuries are essentially the same as the recent maxima of the late 20th century. We note that recent independent reconstructions of the Sun’s open magnetic field, based on the geomagnetic record, also show a very limited difference of the highest peak 11-year amplitudes occurring in the 19th and 20th centuries over the available 1840-2010 interval (see Figure 30 in Lockwood 2013). Therefore, the upward trend in solar activity levels between the 18th and 20th that was adopted in many past interpretations and models is now questioned, as well as the associated concept of an abnormally high “Grand Maximum” occurring in the second half of the 20th century.
However, although recent cycles do not reach unprecedented amplitudes anymore, the
repetition of five strong cycles over the last 60 years (cycles 17 to 22, with the exception of cycle 20) still marks a unique episode in the whole 400-year record.
This unique character is also
illustrated when considering another sunspot byproduct, i.e. the number of spotless days over each
sunspot cycle minimum. As can be seen in Figure 64, this number is strongly anti-correlated with
the amplitude of the adjoining cycles (given by the reversed green curve).
Usoskin in his new paper wrote (from CO2 Science):
“the modern Grand maximum (which occurred during solar cycles 19-23, i.e., 1950-2009),” which they describe as “a rare or even unique event, in both magnitude and duration, in the past three millennia.”
So although Usoskin’s graph may be wrong according to Svalgaard, I think their views are closer than you might conclude from Svalgaard’s comments here.
Svalgaard in his paper talks about “a unique episode in the whole 400-year record” while Usoskin calls it “a rare or even unique event, in both magnitude and duration, in the past three millennia.”
Thanks Leif for showing Usoskin’s “corrected figure” (http://www.leif.org/research/Decadal-Directly-Observed-Sunspot-Numbers.png)

Dear good old Hockey Schtick”!
I know its a little silly, but thank you for doing a brilliant job in these comments! Keep it up!!
K.R. Frank

the repetition of five strong cycles over the last 60 years (cycles 17 to 22, with the exception of cycle 20) still marks a unique episode in the whole 400-year record.

So one expert says we had a grand maxima, and one says we did not. But I would like to see Dr. Svalgaard discuss the above observation more. Whatever they want to call it, is the contention that the recent cycles not “normal” true or not. Let’s first establish what happened and at least try to agree on that. Then we can worry about nomenclature and effects.

Bruce Cobb

No, no, the sun is too weak to affect climate. The GCMs tell us so, and they’ve never been wrong.

Charlie A

Bob Weber says “This was covered in Feb: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/22/usoskin-et-al-discover-a-new-class-of-sunspots/ .”
Willis’s post pretty much showed that the paper is junk science. It’s junk science whether or not we like the conclusions.

Edim

“the repetition of five strong cycles over the last 60 years (cycles 17 to 22, with the exception of cycle 20) still marks a unique episode in the whole 400-year record. This unique character is also illustrated when considering another sunspot byproduct, i.e. the number of spotless days over each sunspot cycle minimum.”
Indeed, and there’s another ‘sunspot byproduct’ with the unique character in this period – cycle frequency (cycles/century) or cycle length (years). Starting with the SC 15 (started in 1915):
——–SCL—f
SC15 10.0 10.0
SC16 10.1 9.9
SC17 10.4 9.6
SC18 10.2 9.8
SC19 10.5 9.5
SC20 11.7 8.5
SC21 10.3 9.7
SC22 9.7 10.3
Now, even without the exception of the longer (weaker) cycle 20, the average cycle frequency for cycles 15 to 22 is exceptionally high (9.7 cycles/century) and the average cycle length exceptionally low (10.4 years). With the exception of cycle 20 it’s even more exceptional – in average 9.8 cycles/century and 10.2 years. The average for cycles 1 to 23 is 9.2 cycles/century and 11.1 years.

Neil

@Kada,
[Mods: this is way off topic. If you feel the need to snip I’ll understand]
The links you had were fascinating reading; especially the regular collapses of
urban societies around the globe.
Unfortunately, Isaac Asimov beat them to that theory by almost 60 years in his short story Nightfall (full text: http://www.astro.sunysb.edu/fwalter/AST389/TEXTS/Nightfall.htm).
Edited from the Wikipedia summary:
On Lagash, a planet with six suns which keep the whole planet continuously illuminated, total darkness is unknown. A group of scientists from a University begin to make a series of related discoveries: a psychologist researches the effects of prolonged exposure to darkness; an archaeologist finds evidence of multiple cyclical collapses of civilization which have occurred regularly about every 2000 years, and an astronomer has discovered irregularities in the orbit of Lagash around its primary sun.