The Sun Is Almost Completely Blank

Weakest Solar Cycle In More Than A Century

SDO_latest_1024_4500

The sun is almost completely blank. The main driver of all weather and climate, the entity which occupies 99.86% of all of the mass in our solar system, the great ball of fire in the sky has gone quiet again during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century. The sun’s X-ray output has flatlined in recent days and NOAA forecasters estimate a scant 1% chance of strong flares in the next 24 hours. Not since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906 has there been a solar cycle with fewer sunspots. –Paul Dorian, Vencore Weather, 30 April 2015

Overview
The sun is almost completely blank. The main driver of all weather and climate, the entity which occupies 99.86% of all of the mass in our solar system, the great ball of fire in the sky has gone quiet again during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century. The sun’s X-ray output has flatlined in recent days and NOAA forecasters estimate a scant 1% chance of strong flares in the next 24 hours. Not since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906 has there been a solar cycle with fewer sunspots. We are currently more than six years into Solar Cycle 24 and the current nearly blank sun may signal the end of the solar maximum phase. Solar cycle 24 began after an unusually deep solar minimum that lasted from 2007 to 2009 which included more spotless days on the sun compared to any minimum in almost a century.
Solar maximum
The smoothed sunspot number (plot below) for solar cycle 24 reached a peak of 81.9 in April 2014 and it is looking increasingly likely that this spike will be considered to be the solar maximum for this cycle. This second peak in the cycle surpassed the level of an earlier peak that reached 66.9 in February 2012. Many solar cycles are double peaked; however, this is the first one in which the second peak in sunspot number was larger than the first peak. Going back to 1755, there have been only a few solar cycles in the previous 23 that have had a lower number of sunspots during its maximum phase.

sunspot numbers
[Sunspot numbers for the prior solar cycle (#23) and the current solar cycle (#24) with its two peaks highlighted; courtesy Hathaway, NASA/ARC]

Consequences of a weak solar cycle
First, the weak solar cycle has resulted in rather benign “space weather” in recent times with generally weaker-than-normal geomagnetic storms. By all Earth-based measures of geomagnetic and geoeffective solar activity, this cycle has been extremely quiet. However, while a weak solar cycle does suggest strong solar storms will occur less often than during stronger and more active cycles, it does not rule them out entirely. In fact, the famous “superstorm” Carrington Event of 1859 occurred during a weak solar cycle (#10) [http://vencoreweather.com/2014/09/02/300-pm-the-carrington-event-of-1859-a-solar-superstorm-that-took-places-155-years-ago/]. In addition, there is some evidence that most large events such as strong solar flares and significant geomagnetic storms tend to occur in the declining phase of the solar cycle. In other words, there is still a chance for significant solar activity in the months and years ahead.
Second, it is pretty well understood that solar activity has a direct impact on temperatures at very high altitudes in a part of the Earth’s atmosphere called the thermosphere. This is the biggest layer of the Earth’s atmosphere which lies directly above the mesosphere and below the exosphere. Thermospheric temperatures increase with altitude due to absorption of highly energetic solar radiation and are highly dependent on solar activity.
Finally, if history is a guide, it is safe to say that weak solar activity for a prolonged period of time can have a cooling impact on global temperatures in the troposphere which is the bottom-most layer of Earth’s atmosphere – and where we all live. There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The first period is known as the “Maunder Minimum”, named after the solar astronomer Edward Maunder, and it lasted from around 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the “Dalton Minimum”, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton, and it lasted from about 1790 to 1830 (below). Both of these historical periods coincided with colder-than-normal global temperatures in an era now referred to by many scientists as the “Little Ice Age”. In addition, research studies in just the past couple of decades have found a complicated relationship between solar activity, cosmic rays, and clouds on Earth. This research suggests that in times of low solar activity where solar winds are typically weak; more cosmic rays reach the Earth’s atmosphere which, in turn, has been found to lead to an increase in certain types of clouds that can act to cool the Earth.

400 years of sunspots
[400 years of sunspots with “minimum” periods highlighted; map courtesy wikipedia]

Full post here


Here are the latest value for NOAA’s Space weather prediction Center, they are for March 2015. I expect an update this coming week. Note that the Ap index made a big jum in March, I expect the new values for April to be much lower.

solar-cycle-planetary-a-index-Apr2015 solar-cycle-10-cm-radio-flux-Apr2015 solar-cycle-sunspot-number-Apr2015

More at the WUWT solar Reference Page: https://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/solar/

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260 thoughts on “The Sun Is Almost Completely Blank

  1. The record expanded floating “Ice Doughnut” and associated cloud cover surrounding Antarctica added to record snow cover over the US Northeast, Canada and Asia will set a new (lower) atmospheric temperature bar. This almost guarantees continuation of the atmospheric temperature “standstill” into its 19th and 20th years. The increased reflectivity at wavelengths that CO2 cannot intercept and re-radiate augers for temperature declines, even in the face of continual rising of CO2.

    The game has changed!!!

    • Tom,

      What you assert above makes sense given the data we have, except for this that you assert:

      The increased reflectivity at wavelengths that CO2 cannot intercept and re-radiate augers for temperature declines, … .” (you just above)

      What evidence can you provide making it highly likely or even at all likely that CO2 can do ANY-thing to make temperature {earth’s surface temperature, I’m assuming} go up or down?

      That there is a conjectured possibility of some change in earth’s surface temps based on the behavior of CO2 in highly controlled laboratory experiments does not seem, to me, to AT ALL lead to the conclusion that CO2 can cause any measurable change in the sea or land surface temps of the climate system called “Earth”.

      What, in short, is the mechanism you are relying on to assert that CO2 is a driver of temperature on earth?

      Thanks for the explanation!

      Janice

      • for T ~ CO2: over last 19 years, r=0, r2=0 so not happening
        that is simple correlation; have never seen anything to show there is a relationship,
        but correlation assumes some equation exercise as opposed to some relationship

      • @ Hugh

        Any linear fit is straight. That’s why it’s called linear.

        http://www.mathopenref.com/line.html

        The mistake they are making over there is to apply a linear fit to non-linear trends. You can see the change in the trend in Bob Tisdale’s graphs in the “COMPARISON” section here:

        https://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/march-2015-global-surface-landocean-and-lower-troposphere-temperature-anomaly-model-data-difference-update/ .

        Moreover, even IPCC has acknowledged zero trend since 1998:

        “Regardless, all global combined LSAT and SST data sets exhibit a statistically non-significant warming trend over 1998–2012 (0.042°C ± 0.093°C per decade (HadCRUT4); 0.037°C ± 0.085°C per decade (NCDC MLOST); 0.069°C ± 0.082°C per decade (GISS)).”

        http://ipcc.wikia.com/wiki/152.4.3_Global_Combined_Land_and_Sea_Surface_Temperature

        Saying “statistically non-significant warming” is a coy way of saying “no warming”.

        I hope this is helpful.

      • Janice, you can’t be serious. You ask two questions. First, what is the mechanism. The mechanism is pure unadulterated radiative physics, and is described and computed in many, many papers and textbooks. The atmosphere is completely opaque in a band of wavelengths that are associated with the complex quantum structure of the CO_2 molecule and that are also well within the blackbody spectrum associated with planetary surface temperatures. The earth itself can pretty much only cool via radiation (just as incoming solar radiation is its overwhelmingly signficant source of heat). Of the incoming solar radiation budget, some is reflected back to space without causing any warming at all, some is absorbed by the atmosphere before it reaches the surface, some is absorbed by surface water — lakes and oceans — and some is absorbed by the land surface. This energy then takes one of many routes back to space to maintain an approximately stable dynamical equilibrium temperature. Some energy — quite a lot of the budget — escapes directly to space from the surface in wavelengths that are not absorbed by the atmosphere. Some is turned into latent heat as water evaporates and transferred to the atmosphere in that form. Some — again, quite a lot — is transported up by convection. Some is radiated away from the surface, absorbed by atmospheric CO_2, transferred almost instantly to the bulk atmosphere.

        Heat in the atmosphere does not make a one-way trip to outer space. For one thing, the atmosphere carries heat down as well as up, and sideways as well as up or down. Today in NC is going to be much warmer than yesterday or the day before, not because the Sun suddenly became more efficient at heating today but because heat and humidity/latent heat absorbed elsewhere is going to be transported into the region. For another, it is a well-established, named principle in physics that a molecule’s absorptive cross-section equals its emissive cross-section, which means that those same CO_2 molecules that absorb LWIR from the surface reradiate it in all directions, including back towards the surface. So do water molecules (in a different band). So do other molecules, but they are usually in such low concentrations in the troposphere that they are basically perturbations on the combined H2O CO2 effect, where both the H2O and CO2 effect are highly variable with humidity and local emission/absorption of CO2 in a variety of natural and anthropogenic processes.

        Eventually molecules in the atmosphere, which are constantly radiating energy in all directions, have a low enough density (density decreases with height) that photons that are emitted “up” have a nonzero chance of making it through to space without any further absorptions. The atmosphere cools in the sense of really truly losing net heat rather than transporting it around only in two places — at the surface, where at night on average the surface itself directly cools faster than the atmosphere immediately above it, and in the top kilometer or so of the troposphere (although this is complicated by water vapor, which can radiate from cloud tops much lower down straight on through if the upper troposphere itself happens to be dry). This radiative cooling occurs at temperatures (maintained by a mix of several nonequilibrium processes but predominantly convective turnover) determined by the adiabatic lapse rate and hence much cooler than surface temperatures. Since the rate of radiative heat loss in any given band is generally proportional to the fourth power of the temperature, this cooling proceeds much more slowly than cooling from the surface in the bands unblocked by greenhouse gases (during the daytime, too).

        To understand how this “warms” the surface, it suffices to note that all heat transport mechanisms in physics are monotonic in temperature difference. As has often been pointed out on this list, net heat transport by spontaneous processes is from warm to cool, at a rate that strictly increases with the difference in temperature. The hotter a surface gets, the faster it loses energy to cooler air via conduction and convection, to cooler outer space (essentially at 3 K in all directions but directly at the sun or moon), to latent heat if it is wet and the air is dry. The cooler it gets relative to the “cold reservoir” it is losing heat to, the more slowly it loses heat in that channel. When the temperatures are identical, it is in thermal equilibrium and no longer loses net heat at all, although energy transfer continues in both directions at matching rates as the physics underlying the transfer doesn’t just “turn off”.

        Anything that slows the rate of transfer at constant temperature differential shifts the dynamical equilibrium temperature. Your body, at rest, produces heat at a roughly constant rate, and loses it via conduction, convection, radiation, and latent heat/evaporation at the surface. If you are in a cold room, your skin surface temperature drops. In order to maintain your required body temperature, your metabolism has to increase heat production, which is metabolically demanding, which our brains interpret as discomfort. We then put on clothes to reduce the rate of heat transport to the colder room, which effectively raises the temperature at which our skin is in equilibrium my making its immediate environment inside the clothing a comfortable temperature and reduces the metabolic load.

        If you heat your house at a fixed rate in the winter with all the windows and doors open and with no insulation in the attic, it will eventually establish a dynamical “equilibrium” temperature with its surrounding environment — warmer than that environment but quite possibly substantially colder than you would like. You can “warm” your house without changing the rate at which the furnace is producing heat by closing the doors and windows, insulating the attic, and hanging curtains. These things don’t produce heat — they simply slow the rate of heat transport from the inside to the outside, forcing the house to “warm” to a higher temperature to remain in dynamical equilibrium with the outside.

        CO_2 and water vapor in the atmosphere work in exactly this way. If they weren’t there, the surface could radiatively cool every night straight through to space. Quite simply, it would lose energy using the entire blackbody spectrum associated with the surface temperature, not just part of it. Every night it would, all things equal, lose substantially more energy and hence cool more than it would without these gases. This effect is immediately visible and familiar to all of us, because we learn early on that dry, low humidity nights get cool much faster than humid nights. The diurnal temperature differential in the dry desert is much greater than it is in places with a higher average humidity. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas.

        The same thing is true during the daytime. The surface itself loses heat much faster but it also gains it faster in the bands of sunlight that were partially blocked by CO_2 and water vapor, so the surface temperature on a dry day can be higher even as the air above it is generally cooler! The greenhouse effect isn’t the only thing moderating heat transport from the surface to outer space, but because the CO_2 linked part of the effect is global and comparatively constant in its mean effect, it is a very important one. Increasing CO_2 concentration slows the average, total heat transport from surface to outer space in one channel, and slowed transport “warms” a system that is constantly being heated and is in dynamical equilibribum with a fixed cold reservoir like outer space. In a highly dynamical, chaotic, self-organized system with many channels (like the earth’s climate system) one cannot easily predict how much warming will occur, because blocking one channel can cause another to reorganize to produce less blocking, as if your warmer house produced enough convective pressure to push open an otherwise closed window, but one can still state that on average one expects warming more than cooling and can even make an all-things-equal (no dynamically adjusting windows!) estimate of how much warming would occur.

        The theory is, I hope this deliberately simple explanation makes clear, entirely sound, and every single aspect of the theory is backed up by numerous experiments. On to your second question — what is the evidence we have that this actually works, that the greenhouse effect warms the Earth, and beyond that that increasing CO_2 is differentially warming the Earth?

        There are two independent lines of evidence. The first and arguably more important is direct spectroscopic evidence. We aren’t talking about invisible magic, here, we are talking about photons, about electromagnetic radiation! We can measure it! We do measure it! We can measure it directionally! We can measure it in each and every wavelength in the entire spectrum from x-rays through to radio waves! I would say (professionally speaking) that no aspect of nature is as well understood as the electromagnetic field, either classically or quantum mechanically. If you look at the spectroscopic data, there is absolutely no doubt that the greenhouse effect is real, because spectrographs of atmospheric radiation are a direct photograph of the greenhouse effect in action, blocking in the greenhouse bands to produce a net effect in thermal “equilibrium” with the temperature at the lapsed emission height when looking down from above the troposphere, and radiation that returns heat to the surface in precisely the greenhouse bands at temperatures in equilibrium with the surface layer of the atmosphere when looking up at night.

        We don’t, in other words, infer a greenhouse effect from some complex explanation of causes that might or might not be right. This is a direct observation of the greenhouse effect in action.. You literally have to believe in magic or be so ignorant of physics that you can convince yourself that photons “know” the temperature of the object that they are eventually absorbed by to convince yourself otherwise, as the downward directed photons carry energy from the atmosphere to the surface and hence reduce the net rate of cooling which, as we noted above, causes an increase in the time averaged temperature (and does so with or without an active heat source).

        The second piece of evidence is that we can predict, on the basis of the theory, approximately how much warming to expect as the atmosphere’s CO_2 concentration increases. The theory here is not exact, not because it isn’t well understood but because things happen in different parts of the atmosphere where conditions change and so we cannot use a comparatively simple description of the physics that works everywhere and have to approximate it in certain ways to make it computable, and then as noted there are feedbacks and interactions with multiple cooling channels that the estimate will not accomodate at all. The computations yield a range of possible answers instead of a sharp “answer” — a mean surface temperature increase that is logarithmic in the CO_2 concentration, so that every doubling of CO_2 increases temperature by a roughly constant increment. This is a very specific prediction (the functional form), but the increment could be anywhere from less than 1 C to as much as 2 C, and most people assume it to be ballpark of 1.5 C (line-by-line spectral tools will usually return a computed value in this range, as will analytical arguments).

        This functional form can then be compared to the global temperature record to see how it works. Here is the result:

        This is the result of simply fitting the expected functional form to the HadCRUT4 temperature record.. As you can see, the fit works extremely well for a temperature increment per doubling around 1.8 C, well within the range of theoretically computed or estimated values! This does not, of course, “prove” the greenhouse effect, any more than Galileo “proved” that gravitational acceleration was independent of mass with his experiments, but it certainly is strong evidence in favor of the theory, not against it. It doesn’t show that the warming could not be “natural”, or that all or part of it could not come from other causes neglected in the simple model. Indeed, the second fit I present with the sinusoid strongly suggests the existence of neglected, possibly significant, physics! But even so, one cannot look at this and go “Aha! This data refutes the greenhouse gas theory!” or even “Aha! There is no reason in the data to think that the greenhouse gas theory is necessarily true!” Quite the contrary — it is pretty strong evidence in favor of the greenhouse gas theory, as measured/observed temperatures are in excellent quantitative agreement with the simplest predictions of the theory.

        I hope this helps you avoid excessive claims in the future. Your argument that it cannot be proven that the warming over the last 165 years is caused by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, while technically correct if you weaken the standard of “proof” enough, requires that it be weakened to the point where you openly ignore the excellent agreement between observation and theory in order to overtly reject the AGW hypothesis. Personally, I think that is unreasonable. Rather, there is strong evidence that it is correct. What is not well-supported by the evidence is:

        a) A specific assertion for the total climate sensitivity, the increment in dynamical equilibrium temperature per doubling. Even given the high quality of my own fit to the data, by the time nonlinearities and feedbacks in the atmosphere and the not particularly believable nature of the HadCRUT4 global temperature estimates with some pretty obvious thumbs on the scales and statistically unbelievable magic carefully hidden within I’d believe anything from a few tenths of a degree C to around 2 C, and suspect that it will turn out to be very close to the central physical estimate of 1.5 C, probably on the low side, when all is said and done.

        b) Any assertion of strong positive feedback from e.g. water vapor. This is the one thing that I think is “wrongest” in the GCMs and early assertions of e.g. Hansen. There is damn-all reason in my fit above to think that there is any positive feedback from water vapor, and there are some very good reasons to think that net feedback from water vapor is negative, not positive.

        c) Any assertion that the observed warming is all, or mostly, from CO_2. A mere glance at global temperature estimates on longer time scales suffices to indicate that natural variation in temperature without the help of CO_2 is already on the scale of degree C over decades to centuries, making it almost impossible, even given a lovely fit like the one above, to be certain of one’s attribution of warming to CO_2. That’s why my lowball estimate for TCS is so low — we don’t know how much of the warming over the last 165 years is perfectly natural, e.g. recovery from the LIA, or warming from other non-Markovian aspects of the climate system. People can assert that they “know”, but they don’t, because nobody has a functional model for global average temperature that works over thousands of years. We don’t even have accurate enough data to make trying to build such a model realistic. We are, and will remain, in a state of borderline ignorance about this for decades to as much as a century before we get enough reliable data to begin to understand climate dynamics on decadal to century timescales outside of the greenhouse gas warming. Even my highball TCS could be low — it could be that the LIA was “supposed” to continue and start the next real glacial episode and end the Holocene, but CO_2 intervened. Some people think that already. In that case all-things-equal TCS could be, say, 3 C but 2 C of this expected warming was cancelled by an incipient ice-age, so that CO_2 saved the world.

        This just shows that the climate is a complicated nonlinear problem in a very high dimensional space, one absurdly beyond our ability to quantitatively compute and one where we lack anything like the precise data needed to either start a computation or compare a result in either past of the future. Even a very good fit has to remain suspect when it assumes that everything else was irrelevant during the time of the fit because we have literally no good reason to think that everything else is ever irrelevant in the climate.

        rgb

      • Thanks for this excellent summary of the physics of ‘greenhouse gases’. To say that I couldn’t agree more is superfluous as the physics is what it is.

      • I see RGB is here to explain in 50,000 words, or more, how he can bake a turkey in his freezer.

        And, as if it could not get any funnier, I will likely be censored again!

        You just can’t make this stuff up….

      • geran, I copied rgb’s entire comment and emailed it to several friends. Its the best explanation of “greenhouse gas” I’ve read. It should be sticky post on WUWT. Let me thank rgb for the effort and the clarity he brought to the discussion.

      • @ rgbatduke…thank you very much for such a straightforward and clear explanation of the ghg atmospheric relationship. That was a bit of reading, but highly informative.

      • rgbatduke: “As you can see, the fit works extremely well for a temperature increment per doubling around 1.8 C”

        Nice hypothesis.

        Such a pity that the temperature increment per doubling isn’t around 1.8 C, isn’t it?

      • RGB, You said:

        “Janice, you can’t be serious. You ask two questions. First, what is the mechanism. The mechanism is pure unadulterated radiative physics, and is described and computed in many, many papers and textbooks. The atmosphere is completely opaque in a band of wavelengths that are associated with the complex quantum structure of the CO_2 molecule and that are also well within the blackbody spectrum associated with planetary surface temperatures. The earth itself can pretty much only cool via radiation (just as incoming solar radiation is its overwhelmingly signficant source of heat). Of the incoming solar radiation budget, some is reflected back to space without causing any warming at all, some is absorbed by the atmosphere before it reaches the surface, some is absorbed by surface water — lakes and oceans — and some is absorbed by the land surface. This energy then takes one of many routes back to space to maintain an approximately stable dynamical equilibrium temperature. Some energy — quite a lot of the budget — escapes directly to space from the surface in wavelengths that are not absorbed by the atmosphere. Some is turned into latent heat as water evaporates and transferred to the atmosphere in that form. Some — again, quite a lot — is transported up by convection. Some is radiated away from the surface, absorbed by atmospheric CO_2, transferred almost instantly to the bulk atmosphere.

        Heat in the atmosphere does not make a one-way trip to outer space. For one thing, the atmosphere carries heat down as well as up, and sideways as well as up or down. Today in NC is going to be much warmer than yesterday or the day before, not because the Sun suddenly became more efficient at heating today but because heat and humidity/latent heat absorbed elsewhere is going to be transported into the region. For another, it is a well-established, named principle in physics that a molecule’s absorptive cross-section equals its emissive cross-section, which means that those same CO_2 molecules that absorb LWIR from the surface reradiate it in all directions, including back towards the surface. So do water molecules (in a different band). So do other molecules, but they are usually in such low concentrations in the troposphere that they are basically perturbations on the combined H2O CO2 effect, where both the H2O and CO2 effect are highly variable with humidity and local emission/absorption of CO2 in a variety of natural and anthropogenic processes.

        Eventually molecules in the atmosphere, which are constantly radiating energy in all directions, have a low enough density (density decreases with height) that photons that are emitted “up” have a nonzero chance of making it through to space without any further absorptions. The atmosphere cools in the sense of really truly losing net heat rather than transporting it around only in two places — at the surface, where at night on average the surface itself directly cools faster than the atmosphere immediately above it, and in the top kilometer or so of the troposphere (although this is complicated by water vapor, which can radiate from cloud tops much lower down straight on through if the upper troposphere itself happens to be dry). This radiative cooling occurs at temperatures (maintained by a mix of several nonequilibrium processes but predominantly convective turnover) determined by the adiabatic lapse rate and hence much cooler than surface temperatures. Since the rate of radiative heat loss in any given band is generally proportional to the fourth power of the temperature, this cooling proceeds much more slowly than cooling from the surface in the bands unblocked by greenhouse gases (during the daytime, too).

        To understand how this “warms” the surface, it suffices to note that all heat transport mechanisms in physics are monotonic in temperature difference. As has often been pointed out on this list, net heat transport by spontaneous processes is from warm to cool, at a rate that strictly increases with the difference in temperature. The hotter a surface gets, the faster it loses energy to cooler air via conduction and convection, to cooler outer space (essentially at 3 K in all directions but directly at the sun or moon), to latent heat if it is wet and the air is dry. The cooler it gets relative to the “cold reservoir” it is losing heat to, the more slowly it loses heat in that channel. When the temperatures are identical, it is in thermal equilibrium and no longer loses net heat at all, although energy transfer continues in both directions at matching rates as the physics underlying the transfer doesn’t just “turn off”.

        Anything that slows the rate of transfer at constant temperature differential shifts the dynamical equilibrium temperature. Your body, at rest, produces heat at a roughly constant rate, and loses it via conduction, convection, radiation, and latent heat/evaporation at the surface. If you are in a cold room, your skin surface temperature drops. In order to maintain your required body temperature, your metabolism has to increase heat production, which is metabolically demanding, which our brains interpret as discomfort. We then put on clothes to reduce the rate of heat transport to the colder room, which effectively raises the temperature at which our skin is in equilibrium my making its immediate environment inside the clothing a comfortable temperature and reduces the metabolic load.

        If you heat your house at a fixed rate in the winter with all the windows and doors open and with no insulation in the attic, it will eventually establish a dynamical “equilibrium” temperature with its surrounding environment — warmer than that environment but quite possibly substantially colder than you would like. You can “warm” your house without changing the rate at which the furnace is producing heat by closing the doors and windows, insulating the attic, and hanging curtains. These things don’t produce heat — they simply slow the rate of heat transport from the inside to the outside, forcing the house to “warm” to a higher temperature to remain in dynamical equilibrium with the outside.

        CO_2 and water vapor in the atmosphere work in exactly this way. If they weren’t there, the surface could radiatively cool every night straight through to space. Quite simply, it would lose energy using the entire blackbody spectrum associated with the surface temperature, not just part of it. Every night it would, all things equal, lose substantially more energy and hence cool more than it would without these gases. This effect is immediately visible and familiar to all of us, because we learn early on that dry, low humidity nights get cool much faster than humid nights. The diurnal temperature differential in the dry desert is much greater than it is in places with a higher average humidity. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas.

        The same thing is true during the daytime. The surface itself loses heat much faster but it also gains it faster in the bands of sunlight that were partially blocked by CO_2 and water vapor, so the surface temperature on a dry day can be higher even as the air above it is generally cooler! The greenhouse effect isn’t the only thing moderating heat transport from the surface to outer space, but because the CO_2 linked part of the effect is global and comparatively constant in its mean effect, it is a very important one. Increasing CO_2 concentration slows the average, total heat transport from surface to outer space in one channel, and slowed transport “warms” a system that is constantly being heated and is in dynamical equilibribum with a fixed cold reservoir like outer space. In a highly dynamical, chaotic, self-organized system with many channels (like the earth’s climate system) one cannot easily predict how much warming will occur, because blocking one channel can cause another to reorganize to produce less blocking, as if your warmer house produced enough convective pressure to push open an otherwise closed window, but one can still state that on average one expects warming more than cooling and can even make an all-things-equal (no dynamically adjusting windows!) estimate of how much warming would occur.

        The theory is, I hope this deliberately simple explanation makes clear, entirely sound, and every single aspect of the theory is backed up by numerous experiments. On to your second question — what is the evidence we have that this actually works, that the greenhouse effect warms the Earth, and beyond that that increasing CO_2 is differentially warming the Earth?

        There are two independent lines of evidence. The first and arguably more important is direct spectroscopic evidence. We aren’t talking about invisible magic, here, we are talking about photons, about electromagnetic radiation! We can measure it! We do measure it! We can measure it directionally! We can measure it in each and every wavelength in the entire spectrum from x-rays through to radio waves! I would say (professionally speaking) that no aspect of nature is as well understood as the electromagnetic field, either classically or quantum mechanically. If you look at the spectroscopic data, there is absolutely no doubt that the greenhouse effect is real, because spectrographs of atmospheric radiation are a direct photograph of the greenhouse effect in action, blocking in the greenhouse bands to produce a net effect in thermal “equilibrium” with the temperature at the lapsed emission height when looking down from above the troposphere, and radiation that returns heat to the surface in precisely the greenhouse bands at temperatures in equilibrium with the surface layer of the atmosphere when looking up at night.

        We don’t, in other words, infer a greenhouse effect from some complex explanation of causes that might or might not be right. This is a direct observation of the greenhouse effect in action.. You literally have to believe in magic or be so ignorant of physics that you can convince yourself that photons “know” the temperature of the object that they are eventually absorbed by to convince yourself otherwise, as the downward directed photons carry energy from the atmosphere to the surface and hence reduce the net rate of cooling which, as we noted above, causes an increase in the time averaged temperature (and does so with or without an active heat source).

        The second piece of evidence is that we can predict, on the basis of the theory, approximately how much warming to expect as the atmosphere’s CO_2 concentration increases. The theory here is not exact, not because it isn’t well understood but because things happen in different parts of the atmosphere where conditions change and so we cannot use a comparatively simple description of the physics that works everywhere and have to approximate it in certain ways to make it computable, and then as noted there are feedbacks and interactions with multiple cooling channels that the estimate will not accomodate at all. The computations yield a range of possible answers instead of a sharp “answer” — a mean surface temperature increase that is logarithmic in the CO_2 concentration, so that every doubling of CO_2 increases temperature by a roughly constant increment. This is a very specific prediction (the functional form), but the increment could be anywhere from less than 1 C to as much as 2 C, and most people assume it to be ballpark of 1.5 C (line-by-line spectral tools will usually return a computed value in this range, as will analytical arguments).

        This functional form can then be compared to the global temperature record to see how it works. Here is the result:

        This is the result of simply fitting the expected functional form to the HadCRUT4 temperature record.. As you can see, the fit works extremely well for a temperature increment per doubling around 1.8 C, well within the range of theoretically computed or estimated values! This does not, of course, “prove” the greenhouse effect, any more than Galileo “proved” that gravitational acceleration was independent of mass with his experiments, but it certainly is strong evidence in favor of the theory, not against it. It doesn’t show that the warming could not be “natural”, or that all or part of it could not come from other causes neglected in the simple model. Indeed, the second fit I present with the sinusoid strongly suggests the existence of neglected, possibly significant, physics! But even so, one cannot look at this and go “Aha! This data refutes the greenhouse gas theory!” or even “Aha! There is no reason in the data to think that the greenhouse gas theory is necessarily true!” Quite the contrary — it is pretty strong evidence in favor of the greenhouse gas theory, as measured/observed temperatures are in excellent quantitative agreement with the simplest predictions of the theory.

        I hope this helps you avoid excessive claims in the future. Your argument that it cannot be proven that the warming over the last 165 years is caused by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, while technically correct if you weaken the standard of “proof” enough, requires that it be weakened to the point where you openly ignore the excellent agreement between observation and theory in order to overtly reject the AGW hypothesis. Personally, I think that is unreasonable. Rather, there is strong evidence that it is correct. What is not well-supported by the evidence is:

        a) A specific assertion for the total climate sensitivity, the increment in dynamical equilibrium temperature per doubling. Even given the high quality of my own fit to the data, by the time nonlinearities and feedbacks in the atmosphere and the not particularly believable nature of the HadCRUT4 global temperature estimates with some pretty obvious thumbs on the scales and statistically unbelievable magic carefully hidden within I’d believe anything from a few tenths of a degree C to around 2 C, and suspect that it will turn out to be very close to the central physical estimate of 1.5 C, probably on the low side, when all is said and done.

        b) Any assertion of strong positive feedback from e.g. water vapor. This is the one thing that I think is “wrongest” in the GCMs and early assertions of e.g. Hansen. There is damn-all reason in my fit above to think that there is any positive feedback from water vapor, and there are some very good reasons to think that net feedback from water vapor is negative, not positive.

        c) Any assertion that the observed warming is all, or mostly, from CO_2. A mere glance at global temperature estimates on longer time scales suffices to indicate that natural variation in temperature without the help of CO_2 is already on the scale of degree C over decades to centuries, making it almost impossible, even given a lovely fit like the one above, to be certain of one’s attribution of warming to CO_2. That’s why my lowball estimate for TCS is so low — we don’t know how much of the warming over the last 165 years is perfectly natural, e.g. recovery from the LIA, or warming from other non-Markovian aspects of the climate system. People can assert that they “know”, but they don’t, because nobody has a functional model for global average temperature that works over thousands of years. We don’t even have accurate enough data to make trying to build such a model realistic. We are, and will remain, in a state of borderline ignorance about this for decades to as much as a century before we get enough reliable data to begin to understand climate dynamics on decadal to century timescales outside of the greenhouse gas warming. Even my highball TCS could be low — it could be that the LIA was “supposed” to continue and start the next real glacial episode and end the Holocene, but CO_2 intervened. Some people think that already. In that case all-things-equal TCS could be, say, 3 C but 2 C of this expected warming was cancelled by an incipient ice-age, so that CO_2 saved the world.

        This just shows that the climate is a complicated nonlinear problem in a very high dimensional space, one absurdly beyond our ability to quantitatively compute and one where we lack anything like the precise data needed to either start a computation or compare a result in either past of the future. Even a very good fit has to remain suspect when it assumes that everything else was irrelevant during the time of the fit because we have literally no good reason to think that everything else is ever irrelevant in the climate.”

        So, to summarize, it is not a topic you have thought about much or have a lot to say about?

    • @Janice.

      You ask (paraphrasing” What mechanism can explain how CO2 could drive climate change?”

      I find the explanation in Wikipedia to be reasonably clear, and consistent with the Science in College textbooks, and in my University courses in Physics and Physical Chemistry:

      ‘The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface and the lower atmosphere, it results in an elevation of the average surface temperature above what it would be in the absence of the gases.

      Solar radiation at the frequencies of visible light largely passes through the atmosphere to warm the planetary surface, which then emits this energy at the lower frequencies of infrared thermal radiation. Infrared radiation is absorbed by greenhouse gases, which in turn re-radiate much of the energy to the surface and lower atmosphere. The mechanism is named after the effect of solar radiation passing through glass and warming a greenhouse, but the way it retains heat is fundamentally different as a greenhouse works by reducing airflow, isolating the warm air inside the structure so that heat is not lost by convection.

      If an ideal thermally conductive blackbody were the same distance from the Sun as the Earth is, it would have a temperature of about 5.3 °C. However, since the Earth reflects about 30% of the incoming sunlight, this idealized planet’s effective temperature (the temperature of a blackbody that would emit the same amount of radiation) would be about −18 °C. The surface temperature of this hypothetical planet is 33 °C below Earth’s actual surface temperature of approximately 14 °C. The mechanism that produces this difference between the actual surface temperature and the effective temperature is due to the atmosphere and is known as the greenhouse effect.

      Earth’s natural greenhouse effect makes life as we know it possible. However, human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing global warming.

  2. The correlations are strong between the colder temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere and the Dalton and Maunder Minimums. But at this point they remain correlations. What we don’t understand about the sun and climate would fill books. It will be interesting to see if Livingston and Penn’s projection that sunspots will no longer be visible after 2015 comes to pass. We may be in the midst of some very significant solar phenomena.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/06/02/livingston-and-penn-paper-sunspots-may-vanish-by-2015/

    • “What we don’t understand about the sun and climate would fill books.”

      the size of the unknown is unknown.
      you can see this by asking the question ‘ will it fill 1 book? or 1000 books”

      The interesting thing about what is not known is that it is not known. Hence, it’s difficult to measure the size or extent of what is unknown. In fact, the whole concept of measuring the size or extent of what is unknown is confused. And appeals to how much we dont know carry no weight.. Take math. Look at all we know. And we know it really well. Now consider how many books would be filled with math we dont know. Interestingly , the size or extent or amount of what is unknown in math tells you NOTHING about the trustworthiness of what you do know. What you dont know cant be used to judge what you do know.

      The weakest skeptical argument is an appeal to what we dont know. You can see how weak this argument is by applying it to other fields. Take the math we knew in 1900. Compare it to the math we know now.
      The fact that we know more math now, tells you nothing about the soundness of the math known in 1900.

      I wish skeptics would drop their bad arguments and come and debate the science

      • Mosh,
        Most people [on either side] are scientifically illiterate and unable to debate the science, as is so clearly demonstrated on blogs like this.

      • Mosh,

        We don’t know what the sun is going to do. We make observations. We measure things. We assume the sun will do things it has done in the past.

        I know that the scientifically literate have a lot of blanks to fill in when it comes to the sun. The scientifically literate surely know that is true. I was looking to use a ‘turn of phrase’ to express the idea that nobody has observed enough about the sun to do anything much beyond creating more questions.

        I’m one of Svalgaard’s scientific illiterates. I didn’t come to debate the science. I merely pointed out we live in interesting times. …and urge upon the prophets a little humility. The more we understand about the sun and its driving force on earth’s climate, the more we ought to be humble – because we are pretty ignorant.

        Is that a bad argument?

      • The more we understand about the sun and its driving force on earth’s climate, the more we ought to be humble
        Yes, it is a bad argument, because it should be the other way around: “the less we understand, the more we ought to be humble”.

      • @ Leif,
        OK, just be careful you don’t topple off the pillar you built for yourself.
        Cus the Illiterates are the only ones that know how to build one.

      • Svalgaard says, “Yes, it is a bad argument, because it should be the other way around: “the less we understand, the more we ought to be humble”.”

        I don’t think the scientifically literate are to the point they ought to be proud of how much they know about the sun and climate. That would truly be the other way around. Are you not just a little ignorant yourself.

        Sheesh Professor, you are always telling people they don’t know as much as they think they do. I’m just your little echo chamber.

      • I don’t think the scientifically literate are to the point they ought to be proud of how much they know about the sun and climate
        The scientifically illiterate seem to be proud of how little they know about the sun…

      • Teenagers, (and newly minted tweenagers) are known for hard headedness and trying out new ideas. There are several posters who have such a hard head. I have discovered, as an oldie, that only time cures this ailment. Not facts spoken clearly. Not observations or direct evidence. And especially not from the words of folks who have done the observations and collected the direct evidence. Pissing in the wind rises to the top of effectiveness compared to educational attempts made on CO2/Solar/Universe enthusiasts.

      • Svalgaard says, “The scientifically illiterate seem to be proud of how little they know about the sun…”

        The temptation to prophecy afflicts them.

      • Mosh says: “… Take math. Look at all we know. And we know it really well. Now consider how many books would be filled with math we don’t know. ”

        Obviously the number of books is countably infinite.

      • funny how often you give so much weight to throwaway statements of a post Steve – couldn’t you confront the substantive portions?

        Williebamboo was simply stating he – and by implication – we – don’t have the all the answers yet – we can’t yet show causation between sunspot activity and certain temperatures – an honest statement – i see nothing evasive there – unless you’re claiming that this too is a settled science – if so – then talk science – instead of bad psychoanalysis

      • Steven Mosher: “I wish skeptics would drop their bad arguments and come and debate the science”

        By the same token, sceptics wish AGW evangelists would drop their bad arguments and come and debate the science.

        And stop messing with the data to try to make it justify those bad arguments,

    • Thx for the link….interesting to go back to 2008 note the papers forecast / prediction and review the comments…

  3. The article implies that there are no sunspots but none of the graphs show that. What am I missing?

    • The graphs are monthly averages, so one spotless day isn’t going to cause them to flatline.

  4. I like the tesis web site for a quick look at magnetic storms and flares on the sun as well as images.

  5. I think the NASA folks are reporting the spot number at 13 today. That means one spot. Are there any cycles since 1800 where the spot number got that low as soon as the max as cycle 24 seems to be? Maybe no unprecedented but certainly rare?

    • If you look at their site at spaceweather.com, you will see that there was a day last year with no spots at all. This has been a weak cycle, but not uprecedented. The next cycle will be very interesting. Is this cycle an anomaly or a harbinger of things to come?

  6. It is disappointing that the solar wind speed and density meters on the Solar Page are missing. Did they stop access because people were watching them that knew what they indicated?

  7. this is the first one in which the second peak in sunspot number was larger than the first peak
    Sigh, not so:

    And as you can see, weak cycles often have large swings. In fact the sunspot number for April was 42% higher than for March.

    In our prediction paper of more than 10 years ago http://www.leif.org/research/Cycle%2024%20Smallest%20100%20years.pdf
    we noted that “Average space weather might be ‘‘milder’’ with decreased solar activity, but the extreme events that dominate technological effects are not expected to disappear. In fact, they may become more common. Two of the eight strongest storms in the last 150 years occurred during solar cycle 14 (Rmax = 64) [Cliver and Svalgaard, 2004], while three of the five largest 30 MeV solar energetic proton events since 1859 [McCracken et al., 2001] occurred during cycle 13 (Rmax = 88).”

    • thanks for the URL and you are correct – unpardonable

      ??technological effects = Rmax
      sorry, I am unfamiliar

    • Hi, Janice.

      Oh, that R, got it. Also used it to respond to your question (me thinks)

      • Bubby I mean Bubbaa I mean Bubba (I left my typos in for fun — yes, I really made them!!),

        I don’t think you understood my question to Tom above (and that is my fault for poor writing, no doubt). BUT, THANKS ANYWAY.

        You likely understand “R” much better than I do, by the way!

        #(:))

      • Janice, I did understand about the mechanism thing –
        CO2 goes up and up and away and T:
        goes down, then up, then “plateau” – was the up part that = CAGW stupid
        higley7, to whom I have attended, can explain that CO2 (and H20 vapor = saturated during day, but it is always daytime to IPCC)
        and with cooling at night = doesn’t fit

      • No, Janice, with “Rmax” Leif did not mean the correlation coefficient \rho or R, he meant the maximum sunspot number of the cycle. Since a correlation coefficient would be less than 1, it should be clear that Rmax=88 does not mean that.

        Rich.

      • Thank you, Rich. I figured (wrongly!) Dr. Svalgaard multiplied it by some constant to get the high value. I’ll be more careful about my assumptions in the future — thanks — to — YOU.
        #(:))

    • Your second peak is smaller than the first, Leif. It’s your third peak that’s larger than the first. So though your plot is interesting, it doesn’t of itself refute Anthony’s statement.

      • @Pat Frank: Yes, but the *sigh* at the start of Leif’s comment was argument enough, surely. /sarc

      • Really fatuous stretch, Leif.

        David, you’re right about the patronizing sigh. It’s worthy of Gavin Schmidt.

      • Your off-peak peak is just a tendentious stretch, Leif. Why not include the next peak down, or the next? Why not one from the descending side, too? You have many equivalent choices, all equivalently fatuous. Your evidence is merely evidence of you being pettifogging.

      • [sarc] For sure, more CO2 make the atmosphere warmer, more water evaporates which is electrically conductive; this causes back-EMF to flow through the plasma bridge between the Earth and the Sun and it inhibits the Sunspots! It’s all in the Electric Universe theory, addendum 57-2[/sarc]

    • @ Leif:

      however, this is the first one in which the second peak in sunspot number was larger than the first peak. Going back to 1755, there have been only a few solar cycles in the previous 23 that have had a lower number of sunspots during its maximum phase.

      Yes, it should have read, “this is the first one in over a century in which . . . ” And yet he does note that it is not, in fact, “the” first.

  8. The real value is in showing how badly the sunspot cycle predictions have proven over time. Chase it down? Mere refinement. When the cycle spikes? See we told you so.

  9. It will be interesting (and completely predictable) to see how a Carrington type event would be spun as being the result of the ever-nefarious Carbon Pollution… I can imagine this twisted tomfoolery, but I’m glad I’m not a part of it. But. come to think of it, if such an event did come to pass, no one would be able to hear exactly what was to blame for the chaos. Not up here in northern Vermont at any rate. (wood stove, sans electronics)

    • where in VT? just curious, I am in Northeast Kingdom – lovely day today – no CO2 from my woodstove, obvious electronics

      • Fairfield, East of St. Albans. Truly, it was a beautiful day. The winter we shared was somewhat brutal, eh? I drive a truck up into Quebec, and the -40 morning was memorable. Et vous?

      • Bubba! It’s around 9:30pm in Vermont and you don’t have the wood stove going yet?
        #(:))

    • Bennett & Janice:
      Beautiful day, I agree.
      Of course, I should be expelling wonderful CO2, but something about the stove drawing when it is warmer outside than in? actually, just lazy on 1st real Spring day from Kirby

      • Kirby=Paradise, if you can pay the bills. Same with Fairfield. Could never move anywhere but further north as the Missus is Quebecoise. Note to other folks: Life is too short to live in a city. YMMV.

  10. The sunspot cycle just ain’t what it use to be. Back in the days when l was a lad (1970s) “you got to see sunspots with just the naked eye. ln Feb 1978 we even got treated to two large naked eye sunspots which were next to each other. But now with this cycle “children are just not going to know what sunspots are”.

    • If you were looking at sunspots with the naked eye back then, then I’m really not surprised you can’t see sunspots any more.

      • During the recent partial eclipse visible from Arizona, I used a dark filter and a set of large sunspots were visible at that time with the naked eye. This article is a little hasty about the importance of an occasional almost blank face. Overall, the sunspot count may be only a little down from historic levels. The big deal is that they seem to hold their fire while facing earth and ramp up as we fall out of range. Most of the time this is true of the filaments, also.

        But, except as a death threat to civilization through a truly massive CME, how important is that count? Isn’t a fall off in certain radiation frequencies the important thing with respect to global warming or cooling.? How about the collapsing magnetic field?

  11. Are there any insights into why it has been so hot in March and April in Florida, the Bahamas, Mexico and central america this year? I have been trying to figure it out. Sunspots higher in March and April?

  12. Willis Eschenbach previously posted here on the shakiness of the observational sunspot evidence for the Dalton and Maunder minima. Keep that in mind, and don’t overplay this hand. Sun must have something to do with climate. But the big local kahuna is ocean thermal mass. And AMO is turning negative. PDO already has. We agree on the continued lack of warming prognostication, less on the causal mechanisms. The best sceptical position, IMO, is to acknowledge uncertainty unlike warmunists. Science rather than ‘religion’.

    • absolutely: sun and ocean = really rather large factors
      science rather than religion … or politics … and uncertainty, of course (well, to those of us wishing to be honest)

      • so, what do you think bob? will the phenomenally low solar cycle activity work to overcome the natural warming effect of the positive PDO? or will the Shift to positive PDO overwhelm the cooling of the low solar cycle?

    • If the sunspot numbers from those past times were miscounted, where they counted too high, or too low?
      Or are they simply not actual counts of observed spots?
      If the numbers are observed spots, but the observations were not very thorough, is it likely that the reported numbers represent a minimum number for the periods in question?
      Were the tiny spots that have been counted in more recent years, which are more like “sun specks”, counted in the past?
      If the answer to either of the previous two question is yes, then this would mean that the current cycle is actually even more abnormally low than a comparison to those periods would indicate, is it not?

      • Too low in the past, but there have been cycles [around 1900, 1800, 1700] that were lower than the present cycle, which is therefore not that abnormal.

      • Ugh, I should not try to comment while watching people getting arrested on the news.
        Garbled my point. Meant to say: If we are counting tiny spots now that were not counted in the past, and if the observations back a long time ago were spotty and/or used inferior equipment, then the very low numbers seen in cycle 24 are even more unusual.

      • The good Dr. S would probably know best, but I suspect early data suffer from too few observers and too many clouds obstructing the view on too many days?

      • Eschenbach provided some data with his article. You might want to show why you feel that he was not quite correct. Feelings don’t count for a lot on this website.

      • so there’s the experts standing on the marketplaces telling the bypassers they’re illiterate.

        and then the IPCC on the hotline to the policymakers, not talking about illiteracy but giving straight advice.

        guess what counts /for/ a lot.

        ____

        Ernest Bush
        May 3, 2015 at 8:49 am

        … ‘Feelings’ don’t count /for/ a lot on this website.

        ____

        that ‘Feelings’ – origin, citation?

        ____

        some evidence for interrest on all sides of experts to prolong fruitless nitpicking.

        Regards – Hans

  13. The F10.7 (fluxobserved) plot above that AW provided stops at April 6, 2015. About every 23 days F10.7 gets an uptick. Right now (May 02, 2015), it’s pretty quiet again at ~108 flux obs It’s probably headed back up again to peak in about 11 days to around 140-150.

    But F10.7 is probably headed to consistently below 100 (fluxadjusted) by the end of the year, where it may remain until the Cycle 25 starts up in 2020-21. That says magnetic heating heat of the chronosphere will be minimal, which means low EUV.

    There are those who suspect a F10.7 flux consistently below 100 leads to a cooling phase of Earth’s climate. We shall see. 2017 could be cold if that is true. Big IF.

  14. The next winter in North America will be a record. The cold will be in Europe because AMO drops. Weak El Ninio will soon heat wave in the eastern US.

  15. As suggested by Penn & Livingston’s research, there is a fair probability of a Grand Solar Minimum (GSM) occurring from solar cycle #25 (around 2022), providing the Umbral Magentic Field (UMF– the force that holds sunspots together) falls below 1500 gauss by 2022 (currently at around 2000 gauss and falling).

    The Little Ice Age is attributed by many (not all) scientists to have been caused by four GSMs: Wolf, Sporer, Maunder and Dalton. There is compelling empirical evidence for this hypothesis, as the LIA’s start and finish corresponds closely to these four GSMs.

    Moreover, the strongest 63-yr string (1933~1996) of solar cycles in 11,400 years also corresponds well to the 20th Modern Warming Period. It’s also interesting to note that global temp trends went flat from 1996, when these strong solar cycles ended in 1996.

    Moreover, about 30% of ALL man-made CO2 emissions since 1750 have been emitted since 1996, with no increase global temp trends to show for it, which is damning to the CAGW hypothesis.

    Should flat/marginal global temp trends continue for another 5~7 years, observed global temps will be 3+ standard deviations lower than CAGW hypothetical projections, which should be sufficient empirical evidence to disconfirm the CAGW hypothesis.

    The Mother of All Ironies is that if the Svensmark Effect is confirmed, and a GSM starts from 2022 and global temps should fall 1C~2C as some scientists project, the tiny amount of actual CO2 induced warming (ECS=0.5C??) will help offset some of the negative impacts of a cooling planet.

    We live in interesting times. It’ll be fascinating to see what happens to global temps over the next 5~7 years, and especially after the next solar cycle starts in 2022.

    • Also, Scotland has a warning out this weekend that includes 8 inches of snow. Britain is expecting a colder than usual May in some parts.

    • The PIOMAS project attempts to measure the “volume” of the arctic sea-ice. This is difficult and has been an elusive piece of data to obtain, and the PIOIMAS project is critisized for various reasons, but likely is our best attempt so far. I find the above graph interesting for it suggests the sea-ice has been thickening the past few years. (The current year is the red line.)

      Of course, “average thickness” is a bit of a ridiculous concept, as the thickness of the ice varies greatly. The Laptev Sea, which exports a lot of ice due to winds howling off shore from Siberia, can have open water when it is -40°, and often has only a skim of ice less than a foot thick which will melt easily in the summer sunshine, but all that exported sea-ice tends to be carried by cross-polar flow and crunch up against the north coast of Canada, where the ice can be twenty feet thick.

      https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/category/arctic-sea-ice/

  16. There are a lot of people who simply do not understand (Or don’t wont to/not interested in) the size these spots can be, or the size of the sun or the distance from it to earth and how long light takes to get to earth. In a chat with a friend some years back now, I showed an image of the sun with spots on it. I said “Here. Look at this. See that spot there? That is larger than the diameter of the earth!”. I was promtly told I was talking out of a hole in the back of my head.

    • Patrick, I feel your pain.
      Imagine if you tried to tell them that that black spot is actually brighter than a blowtorch?
      That it only looks black because the surrounding areas are so much brighter.
      But, even though I know that the sun is a million miles wide, and the earth is only 8,000, it is still hard to grasp mentally.
      I mean the scale of it is just so far outside anything we have close hand experience with. I drive a lot. A whole lot. But I am not sure if I have driven a million miles in my whole life. I know the sun is about 93,000,000 miles away, and that light travels at 186,000 a second, and takes nine minutes or so to make that trip. But I also know that light moves fast enough to go all the way around the earth 7 times in one second. I have to say the scale of even the earth boggles my mind when I start to think about what might be in the volume of the crust just within the top five miles or so. And although I have known the speed of light since I was a kid, I cannot say I can actually comprehend it in any real sense. A plane landing that goes over my house is going ten times faster than I drive my car, and a rifle bullet goes several times time faster than that. But the speed of a orbiting shuttle at 16,000 MPH or so, is getting a little fast to really imagine. I have seen satellites up in the sky right at sunrise, and it is really freaky. The speed of light is simply insane. No way to picture it. We can say it, calculate it, but see it? Think about it in everyday terms? Nope.
      93,000,000 miles? Unfathomable in everyday comparisons.

      My whole life I have told people factual things that they said flat out to me was not true. I dated a girl several years back, that when I pointed up at Venus rising over the ocean…she looked at me and told me that she is not stupid, why am I saying that, she knows that that is a star! No amount of informing her was changing her mind, either. (Last date with her. My friend, who was walking with us at the time, commented later that she was as dumb as a bag of rocks, but I pointed out she was merely completed uneducated.)

      Just like a large proportion of the electorate are what as known as “low information voters”, so too is the average Fred or Myrtle Q. Anybody astonishingly unaware of even a modicum of the knowledge that people who have actually studied and learned natural sciences or engineering take for granted.
      Ditto for such things as the workings of machinery, whether it be cars, televisions, pumps and motors, appliances, or whatever.

      Electrical stuff, simple or complicated…the average person is not only unable to tell you much about how it works, or how to fix anything, but is afraid to even try.

      I was very young when I realized that almost everyone I knew had no idea how to take something apart and put it back together. Maybe 7 or 8.
      But what was most amazing was that by then I was reading books and magazines which explained stuff, and saw that a lot of people could read books and not be able to remember it a few weeks later, or integrate one set of facts into another. I had an aunt who was a librarian, and she gave me a series of books called “The How And Why Wonder Books” when I was 8 or 9. I read the one called Nuclear Energy the first night, and learned all about the binding energy curve, the difference between fission and fusion, how a nuclear chain reaction occurs, how reactors work and are controlled, etc. I knew more that first night than most people I have ever met since, outside of a physics classroom.

      I am not sure,to this day, why it is that some people, when they are kids, can, for example, take the wheels off of a car, examine and disassemble the brake mechanism, see how it is put together and how it works, and put it all back together again. While with many other people, even if you sat them down and showed them how to do it step by step, bolt by bolt, and did it slowly and repeated it a few times…they could never do it themselves. And would never try.

      Ask a hundred random people “what are the three major plant nutrients?”, or “why is it you can disconnect the battery from a car after you start it and it will keep running?”, or “what do radio waves and x-rays have in common?”, or “how can a weather forecaster look at a weather map and tell you which way the wind will be blowing tomorrow?”, or “any random question about a basic fact in physics, chemistry, cosmology, geology, etc?”, and most, I think, cannot answer correctly.

      But the ones who know the answer to one of these has a good chance of knowing them all.

      Many people seem to actually think that the ability to grows plants without killing them has to do with some mysterious thing called a “green thumb”, or that auto mechanics must know some secret incantation that must be performed prior to or after all the unbolting and bolting back together, or decided at some point in their lives that some stuff was complicated and certain subjects were “hard”, and left it at that, rarely if ever to pay serious attention to trying to learn about them again.

      Just as a for instance, when I was in college, I spent my weekends building a plant nursery for my father, and to make some money I would fill up a truck with plants, drive to a busy street corner in a big city, and just stand there selling plants all day. Talked to everyone, hundreds of people a day: Doctors, lawyers, little old ladies, other students, you name it. And after a while I realized it was best to try quiz people a little about the conditions they had in mind, and tell them how to take care of the plants they were buying, lest they come back with a dead plant, all irate and alarming new customers. I quickly found out you had to just give most people the simplest advice possible. Telling someone to “keep soil evenly moist” just confused them. People would give a huge plant a cup of water a week and wonder why it died. I found out some people thought, if I told them “bright to medium light” they could put a plant in the back corner of a room away from any windows, because “there was some light”. I found most people could not comprehend that even a bright artificially lit room is orders of magnitude less light than even a north window, and a sunny window is many times less light than under a shade tree outside.

      Have to give people very specific instructions “put it next to your brightest window and give it half a gallon of water a week (or whatever the case was)”. But even this was a little too wordy for many. “But the floor will get wet if I give it that much!” “That is why I sell these convenient clear plastic saucers ma’am”. “Are you sure the roots won’t rot. Some one told me roots can rot.” “This plant is native to a rain forest, do not let the soil dry out”.

      I really should have written a book about those days. Every day I had so many new stories. It is amazing to talk to everyone walking down the street in a city.

      Over several years, I found out a great deal about the average amount of basic scientific knowledge people walking down the street have.

      What kills me is that not only do so many people not know stuff, but they are not curious about finding out. Unless they have some economic interest in doing so. But even then it is not for sure.

      Not that people are stupid, necessarily, they just do not have very much specific or detailed knowledge of many subjects.

      There are of course a lot of people around that have a fair grasp of many general concepts in variety of fields. And a lot more than have some knowledge, but are not sure about what they know, and “know” a lot of things that are false.
      Then there are millions of people who are very knowledgeable, are doctors, engineers, technicians, scientists and teachers.

      Some people know how to ask questions that are pertinent, will pay close attention when told about something they do not know, and are very curious about finding out as much as they can about various things.

      • “Menicholas

        May 3, 2015 at 3:44 am”

        WOW! I think we are distant brothers. I was ridiculed and laughed at at skool when I was 8 years old for stating my favourite TV show at that time was the Sky at Night by Patrick Moore. Not Tom and Jerry, not Woody Wood Pecker etc etc… And drawing a “doodle” during “story time” of a solar flare…called up to front of class to explain!

        What I find distressing is that all of this information is available right now, in libraries! Totally untouched by the “internet”, so far!

      • Thanks Menicholas. I find it difficult to talk to people about “stuff”. I think I have imparted some of my curiosity about how things work on two out of three of my kids which is quite good. And my wife, who thinks she doesn’t know much, but in reality also knows most of your answers, which is why I love her.
        But when they are not around, I get lonely. Now days I get my information from sites like this. Readily accessible.

      • Menicholas, it’s not the knowing that’s the problem, it’s the knowing so much that ’tain’t so that’s the problem

      • No, they are stupid Menicholas. Just point out that 50% of the population is below average intelligence and the lower half will argue with you. (Median is appox equal to mean for IQ). Simply explain that it is the reason that 50% of road accidents are caused by the other bloke.

      • I am humbled by such lofty young folks. The only thing I was doing when I was 7 was playing in every mud puddle I could find and climbing cupboards to find chocolate bars Grandma kept for hunting season. And if it twernt for muddy handprints on the cupboard doors and a chocolate smile I woulda gotten away with it.

      • Doing kids’ stuff – mud puddles – cookie jars – and all else…
        is the way kids lay the cognitive foundations for problem solving as adults. Such ‘play’ interrupted too early by shoehorning kids into school desks can stifle creativity later in life, (particularly for males.)

      • “Pamela Gray

        May 3, 2015 at 3:56 pm”

        Oh yes, I hear ya! Me too…(damn those muddy hand prints)…

      • Pamela, do not get me wrong…I was the mud puddle king of twenty-second street. In fact, my nickname (my other one, besides Nick) was Dirty-dirt. My dad made up a song and everything. It was said I could become spontaneously dirty faster than Pigpen himself.
        I had a pair of shoes called desert boots that I loved so much, and refused to throw out, even when there was a danger of them absorbing onto my feet, that they had to come in my room and find where I hid them, while I was sleeping, to throw them away.
        And I too remember clambering over shelves and cupboards, in search of hidden treasures of rare treats.
        my mom was a health food nut before anyone ever heard of it. Nary a bag of chips ever crossed the threshold of that house.
        I remember one time I came across a cookbook, and looked through t just out of curiosity. I was astonished to see that there were the directions, laid out in plain language, for making all manner of treats…cookies, cakes (!) and what have you. There ware almost never any hidden chocolates, except for semi-sweat morsels, but there was always plenty of what had been considered by me to be useless junk…flour, sugar, various extracts and powders. That day I discovered that cook books had valuable information in them, was the last time I ever searched. The cat was out of the bag, and from then on I was the bake-master extraordinaire of the ‘hood.
        I can recall the amazement f all my older brothers and sisters the first time…about an hour after finding that book, that I pulled a cake out of the oven! They absolutely could not fathom how I had done it. nor could my mom. It too a little longer to figure out how to make a chocolate cake using unsweetened chocolate…but not much longer…maybe a week.
        By them my mom realized she best just show me all the little tricks.

        I do not remember if I was in the habit of washing up before cooking. Probably not. I was honestly oblivious to dirt.

      • The baking probably started around second grade. I was barely big enough to turn the handle on an egg beater (remember those?)
        I had to stand on a chair to put stuff in a mixing bowl. But I did it. I knew how to read, and what 3/4 of a cup was, and how to turn on an oven to a particular temperature, and how to time something. Although I do recall being very impatient, and more than one cake was more like pudding in the middle when we all started to devour it.

      • noaaprogrammer,
        I went to an experimental school called a Learning Center. No desks, few structured classes. Went and played in the math lab, built stuff in the work shop, read in the library, raised animals in the animal room, arts and crafts room. It was great. I was never shoehorned. I read all the time because I wanted to, and rode my bike every dafter school…was the leader of a bike gang, swim team in the summer, all different sports all year long in the street. Back in those days, after school… kids were told to go play in the street…and that is what we did. In the actual streets.

  17. Take a look over at Spaceweather.com. NASA has just noticed that when the Nepal quake struck that it led to a disturbance more than 60 kms above sea level. Is this indicative of the potential connection between Gleissberg and GM events leading to a greater potentiality for large quakes and volcanic eruptions? They are saying that this could be showing that the ionosphere is sensitive to a large quake, but what if they have that backwards? Look at what they are showing. The change in the ionosphere and the quake in Nepal occur simultaneously. This could certainly be solar effects being the trigger that shifted the ionosphere on it,s way through to the Earth, and thus becoming the trigger for the quake.

    • Dr Kongpop U Yen has been writing papers studying the correlation between solar radiation influx and tropical storm formation and intensification. He’s also co-authoring a paper with the Suspicious Observers guys on the correlation between solar radiation influx and earthquakes. Though that paper focuses solely on M8+ earthquakes at the moment.

  18. Max– I think you’re on to something here, Max.

    in about 6 billion years, the sun will run out of hydrogen and will start burning helium to form evil CARBON!!!

    At this stage, the sun will become a Red Giant, and its size will encompass Earth’s orbit, at which time Dr. Hansen’s projection of boiling seas will come true!

    See! The alarmist were right! Carbon will destroy Earth eventually! They were just off a little on the timing…

  19. Climate change is so powerful that it’s blanked out the Sun!

    “Be afraid! Be very afraid!! Uh, and pay carbon taxes, thanks.” –UN

  20. “…..more cosmic rays reach the Earth’s atmosphere which, in turn, has been found to lead to an increase in certain types of clouds that can act to cool the Earth.”
    We all know the sun spot activity has a better correlation than “Co2 Drives the climate” theory.
    Well, has anybody been tracking “certain types of clouds” and has there been an increase in that “type” of cloud?

  21. How fast will solar 24 cycle drop off? When will the sun be spotless? How long will the sun be spotless for? Will there be a cycle 25?

    The solar magnetic large scale magnetic field has dropped cycle by cycle and is now the lowest ever measured in ‘recorded’ history. The strength of the solar cycle large scale magnetic field is based on recent history a precursor of the size of the next solar cycle. It is interesting that the solar northern hemisphere large scale magnetic field strength is oscillating around zero. How low can the solar large scale magnetic intensity go?

    We have been told repeatedly that solar magnetic cycle 24 is not unusual, is not peculiar. Odd that other specialist do find that solar24 cycle is peculiar, unusual.

    Why did solar heliosphere density drop by 40%?

    There are cycles of warming and cooling (sometimes abrupt cooling) in the paleo climatic record that correlate with solar cycle changes. How much of the recent warming was due to solar cycle changes as opposed to the increase in atmospheric CO2?

    What is interesting is the large set of theoretical questions concerning how and why the sun changes and how and the magnitude of the sun’s affect of the earth’s climate will be resolve by observations.

    We are going to have a front row seat to watch how the sun will change and how the current change in the sun will affect the earth’s climate.

    It is interesting that suddenly in 2012 there was record sea ice in the Antarctic for every month of the year (which is the first time in recorded history that this has happened) and shortly following that change there is now recovery of sea ice in the Arctic.

    The peculiar solar cycle 24 – where do we stand?
    http://iopscience.iop.org/1742-6596/440/1/012001/pdf/1742-6596_440_1_012001.pdf

    The peculiar solar cycle 24 – where do we stand?
    Solar cycle 24 has been very weak so far. It was preceded by an extremely quiet and long solar minimum. Data from the solar interior, the solar surface and the heliosphere all show that cycle 24 began from an unusual minimum and is unlike the cycles that preceded it. We begin this review of where solar cycle 24 stands today with a look at the antecedents of this cycle, and examine why the minimum preceding the cycle is considered peculiar (§ 2). We then examine in § 3 whether we missed early signs that the cycle could be unusual. § 4 describes where cycle 24 is at today.

    The minimum preceding the cycle showed other unusual characteristics. For instance, the polar fields were lower than those of previous cycles. In Fig. 1 we show the polar fields as observed by the Wilcox Solar Observatory. It is very clear that the fields were much lower than those at the minimum before cycle 22 and also smaller than the fields during the minimum before cycle 23. Unfortunately, the data do not cover a period much before cycle 21 maximum so we cannot compare the polar fields during the last minimum with those of even earlier minima.

    Other, more recent data sets, such as the Kitt Peak and MDI magnetograms, and they too also show that the polar fields were weak during the cycle 24 minimum compared with the cycle 23 minimum (de Toma 2011; Gopalswamy et al. 2012).

    The differences between the cycle 24 minimum and the previous ones were not confined to phenomena exterior to the Sun, dynamics of the solar interior showed differences too. For instance, Basu & Antia (2010) showed that the nature of the meridional flow during the cycle 24 minimum was quite different from that during cycle 23. This is significant because meridional flows are believed to play an important role in solar dynamo models (see e.g., Dikpati et al. 2010, Nandy et al. 2011, etc.). The main difference was that the meridional flow in the immediate sub-surface layers at higher latitudes was faster during the cycle 23 minimum that during the cycle 24 minimum. The difference can be seen in Fig. 3 of Basu & Antia (2010). Since the solar cycle is almost certainly driven by a dynamo, the differences in meridional flow between the last two minima, and between cycle 23 and the first part of cycle 24, may be important factors in creating the cycle differences, which extend into the corona and even cosmic rays (Gibson et al. 2009). Differences were also seen in the solar zonal flows (Howe et al. 2009; Antia & Basu 2010 …etc.), and it was found that the equator-ward migration of the prograde mid-latitude flow was slower during the cycle 24 minimum compared with that of cycle 23.

    • People in parts of the Northern Territory have experienced the coolest night of the year so far, with new record lows for April expected to be recorded in several places.

      At 6:00am (CST) the temperature at Middle Point, 66 kilometres south-west of Darwin, was down to 13.1 Celsius, making it the coldest April temperature ever recorded at the site.

      The temperature in Alice Springs was a chilly 1.7C overnight, making it the coolest night so far this year and fractionally above its coldest-ever recorded April temperature of 1.4C.

      Bureau of Meteorology acting senior forecaster Billy Lynch said he expected it would have been an April record in several parts of the Top End overnight.

      • Flying around Australia, it is the greenest that I have seen in nearly 60 years. Normally dead country has green grass and tree shoots. And to my eyes it is a cumulative effect of several years duration. This is a huge country. The greenery is like that reported in the 1800’s.
        And yes, it is getting colder. I am not looking forward to this winter. Next winter – living in the southern extreme of the tropics, I plan to have a small wood heater in my small house. I do not like the year on year cooling tend. It is making my joints freeze..

      • I for one would enjoy a cooler earth. I have to endure 6-8 months every year with an air conditioner. Perhaps a cooler climate would be a nice change. And no, I don’t expect much sympathy for my situation.

      • Peter
        May 3, 2015 at 6:42 am
        Flying around Australia, it is the greenest that I have seen in nearly 60 years. Normally dead country has green grass and tree shoots.

        I bet my money on CO2 enrichment for this. Yes, I mean this bad bad dreadful thing.
        Satellites have shown some 11% greening of the planet in the previous 3 decades, but somehow this does not make the news.
        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/06/08/surprise-earths-biosphere-is-booming-co2-the-cause/

        Glad to hear Australia shows the same greening case. Also plants can better support droughts with more CO2.

        At 220 ppm one had carbon starvation:
        “Carbon starvation in glacial trees recovered from the La Brea tar pits, southern California”
        http://biblioteca.universia.net/ficha.do?id=912067

        The irony is when one googles “CO2 plant food” one gets to SkS site with:
        “It is possible to boost growth of some plants with extra CO2, under controlled conditions inside of greenhouses. Based on this, ‘skeptics’ make their claims of benefical botanical effects in the world at large. Such claims fail to take into account that increasing the availability of one substance that plants need requires other supply changes for benefits to accrue. It also fails to take into account that a warmer earth will see an increase in deserts and other arid lands, reducing the area available for crops.”

        Not a single moment recognizing reality.
        Their theoretical Co2hotmaggedon is bad computer modeling whereas CO2 enrichments is proven reality.

      • “The sun has been there before”

        But we who dwell in this narrow slice of time have not, and therein lies the real source of the problem.

      • How long is warming? 50 years? Back in the seventies, some scientists proclaim a new ice age.

      • How fast will solar 24 cycle drop off?

        When will the sun be spotless? How long will the sun be spotless for?

        Will there be a cycle 25? Hint, the large scale solar magnetic field strength is dropping like a stone.

        Why did the solar heliosphere density drop by 40%?

        The Forgotten and ignored sun will move to center stage, if and when the planet significantly cools.

      • Your questions are ill-posed.
        How fast will solar 24 cycle drop off?
        As any other weak cycle, SC24 still has at least 5 years to go

        When will the sun be spotless? How long will the sun be spotless for?
        Could be any day now, but only for a day or so. This is normal for weak cycles.
        At the next minimum, the Sun might be spotless for several hundred days as is the norm for weak cycles.

        Will there be a cycle 25? Hint, the large scale solar magnetic field strength is dropping like a stone.
        Absolutely, we can already see it build. The solar polar fields are again increasing. We don’t know yet to what value, but a [very] risky extrapolation suggests that the next cycle will be 2/3 of the present one [the predictor is given by the green line: the ‘dipole moment = the difference between north and south (also shown at the right):

        Why did the solar heliosphere density drop by 40%?
        It did at the last minimum [as the magnetic field dropped]. Now the density is back to normal [5 protons/cm^3]

      • lsvalgaard
        May 3, 2015 at 9:47 am

        When will the sun be spotless? How long will the sun be spotless for?
        Could be any day now, but only for a day or so. This is normal for weak cycles.
        At the next minimum, the Sun might be spotless for several hundred days as is the norm for weak cycles.

        Will there be a cycle 25? Hint, the large scale solar magnetic field strength is dropping like a stone.
        Absolutely, we can already see it build. The solar polar fields are again increasing. We don’t know yet to what value, but a [very] risky extrapolation suggests that the next cycle will be 2/3 of the present one [the predictor is given by the green line: the ‘dipole moment = the difference between north and south (also shown at the right):

        Why did the solar heliosphere density drop by 40%?
        It did at the last minimum [as the magnetic field dropped]. Now the density is back to normal [5 protons/cm^3]

        Over the weekend Istarted to wonder about the magnetic fields from the other 5 operating planetary dynamo’s, and how the magnetic fields will potentially merge and buck with solar magnetic fields.
        While the planetary fields might be overwhelmed by the internal solar fields, they can be “magnets” for solar fields.
        One might think some of these fields might be split off sunspot fields, which should then show up as quites sides of the sun, where other sides could be more active, pending how the planets fields are configured at any one time.
        Now, we don’t have a lot data on the back side, but what do we know about what’s going on on the back side of the Sun? Are there times when one side of the Sun is active and another isn’t?

        And thank you for your efforts here.

    • Also interesting is http://notrickszone.com/2015/04/12/solar-cycle-24-continues-to-be-quietest-in-almost-200-years-suns-polar-fields-weakest-since-1900/.
      The current cycle is the quietest since solar cycle no. 7, which occurred around 1830. When it comes to the question of why, the polar magnetic fields of the sun are decisive.
      – The authors led by Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo used the observations of solar flares made since 1900 as a proxy for the sun’s polar fields. (…) Here it is clear to see that in the second year past the cycle peak, the polar fields have never been so weak. Consider that the strength of the sun’s polar fields during the solar sunspot minimum is a decisive indicator for the activity of the next solar cycle. A very recent paper by Robert Cameron and Manfred Schüssler confirms this.

  22. How long before the first ‘proof’ that global warming causes a decrease in sun spots , given there is ‘nothing ‘ miracle CO2 cannot do it must surely be just a question of time.

    • Well, if CO2 can “hitch a ride” on the sun-earth connection, then it would be acting like a big CO2 fire extinguisher and directing itself to the active regions (via it’s uncanny ability for finding energy to re-radiate).
      The sun becomes “double-gazed”, so to speak. Considering the humongous emissions from all of us we might just extinguish it, but methane also goes along for the ride and burns hot enough to provide “the missing heat”.
      (do I need sarcometric certification?)

  23. The IPCC and the White House just announced that the absence of sunspots is caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

    [Do I need to say sarc/off?]

    • @jbird, No, invest in companies that make “Long Johns” or start your own. Something like, Gore’s “undercovers”? or maybe “Gore’s under the covers” (ups)?

  24. Recently, a Nasa funded radiation study was highlighted in the WSJ.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/study-deep-space-radiation-could-damage-astronauts-brains-1430503356
    Here are the key excerpts:

    “In 54 years of human spaceflight, astronauts have rarely experienced a full dose. Apollo crews, who ventured furthest from Earth’s protective shield on their journeys to the Moon, reported seeing flashes of light when they closed their eyes, caused by galactic cosmic rays speeding through their retinas.”

    ….
    “These sorts of cognitive changes could manifest during the mission and could be a real problem,” said Cary Zeitlin at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, who wasn’t involved in the study. In 2013, Dr. Zeitlin reported radiation levels between Earth and Mars detected by the Mars Science Laboratory craft during its cruise to the red planet, and found that the exposure was the equivalent of getting “a whole-body CT scan once every 5 or 6 days.”

    ….
    To test the neural effects of deep-space travel, a dozen researchers led by UC Irvine radiation oncologist Charles Limoli briefly exposed mice to charged particles in a radiation beam at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. Six weeks later, they tested the irradiated mice and found the lab animals lacked normal curiosity, were less active, and became more easily confused, compared with a control group, the researchers said.

    “Their curiosity is way down,” said Dr. Limoli. “They don’t want to explore novelties.”

    The researchers found the mice had damaged neurons and synapses in areas associated with memory and decision-making, such as the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.”

    If the sun’s magnetosphere and solar wind become diminished for 30-60 years by a Maunder-like minimum, that could really complicate or make impossible manned missions beyond LEO.

    I personally think that would be okay because the costs of a manned mission to Mars would drain too much money. Far more beneficial space exploration by robotic missions, astronomy here on earth and orbiting platforms (James Webb telescope follow on), and most other US govt funded research would get hit to pay for it.

    • Year on orbit in the period low solar activity is suicide mission. The increase will be a big galactic radiation. The energy of this radiation is calculated in gigaelektronowoltach (10 ^ 9 eV). Prior to this only protects the solar wind. Cosmonauts will be illuminated after year.

      • Two forms of radiation pose potential health risks to astronauts in deep space. One is galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), particles caused by supernova explosions and other high-energy events outside the solar system. The other is solar energetic particles (SEPs) associated with solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun.

        Radiation exposure is measured in units of Sievert (Sv) or milliSievert (one one-thousandth Sv). Long-term population studies have shown exposure to radiation increases a person’s lifetime cancer risk. Exposure to a dose of 1 Sv, accumulated over time, is associated with a 5 percent increase in risk for developing fatal cancer.

        NASA has established a 3 percent increased risk of fatal cancer as an acceptable career limit for its astronauts currently operating in low-Earth orbit. The RAD data showed the Curiosity rover was exposed to an average of 1.8 milliSieverts of GCR per day on its journey to Mars. Only about 5 percent of the radiation dose was associated with solar particles because of a relatively quiet solar cycle and the shielding provided by the spacecraft.

        The RAD data will help inform current discussions in the United States medical community, which is working to establish exposure limits for deep-space explorers in the future.

        “In terms of accumulated dose, it’s like getting a whole-body CT scan once every five or six days,” said Cary Zeitlin, a principal scientist at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio and lead author of the paper on the findings. “Understanding the radiation environment inside a spacecraft carrying humans to Mars or other deep space destinations is critical for planning future crewed missions.”

        Current spacecraft shield much more effectively against SEPs than GCRs. To protect against the comparatively low energy of typical SEPs, astronauts might need to move into havens with extra shielding on a spacecraft or on the Martian surface, or employ other countermeasures. GCRs tend to be highly energetic, highly penetrating particles that are not stopped by the modest shielding provided by a typical spacecraft.
        http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/may/HQ_13-165_MSL_Radiation_Findings.html

      • Abstract
        As NASA prepares for the first manned spaceflight to Mars, questions have surfaced concerning the potential for increased risks associated with exposure to the spectrum of highly energetic nuclei that comprise galactic cosmic rays. Animal models have revealed an unexpected sensitivity of mature neurons in the brain to charged particles found in space. Astronaut autonomy during long-term space travel is particularly critical as is the need to properly manage planned and unanticipated events, activities that could be compromised by accumulating particle traversals through the brain. Using mice subjected to space-relevant fluences of charged particles, we show significant cortical- and hippocampal-based performance decrements 6 weeks after acute exposure. Animals manifesting cognitive decrements exhibited marked and persistent radiation-induced reductions in dendritic complexity and spine density along medial prefrontal cortical neurons known to mediate neurotransmission specifically interrogated by our behavioral tasks. Significant increases in postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD-95) revealed major radiation-induced alterations in synaptic integrity. Impaired behavioral performance of individual animals correlated significantly with reduced spine density and trended with increased synaptic puncta, thereby providing quantitative measures of risk for developing cognitive decrements. Our data indicate an unexpected and unique susceptibility of the central nervous system to space radiation exposure, and argue that the underlying radiation sensitivity of delicate neuronal structure may well predispose astronauts to unintended mission-critical performance decrements and/or longer-term neurocognitive sequelae.
        http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/4/e1400256

      • 2. ICRP recommended annual limit for occupationally exposed radiation workers (including aircrew) is less than 20 mSv. If the predicted exposure is less than 1/3 of this limit, the safety signal color will be green – indicating minimal radiation exposure. If the predicted exposure is between 1/3-2/3 of the ICRP recommended limit, the safety signal color will be yellow – indicating that close tracking of individual radiation exposure is advised. If the predicted exposure is greater than 2/3 the recommended limit, the safety signal color will be red – indicating exposure to maximum recommended limit is possible.
        http://sol.spacenvironment.net/raps_ops/current_files/globeView.html

    • @joel, About the NASA study, (and thanks for the info)
      Myself, because of an injury 15 years ago, had to go through multiple X-rays/ CAT scans and MR…. what were you saying?…. uhmmm I am puzzled by something and… whatwas that again? sorry i am not wondering anymore, … no curiosity I guess.
      Oh I (NASA) gets it. Guys we need some funds for my next…. oh I forgot ( sarc off)

      Any off the symptoms shown by these astronauts, jet pilots etc having to live in that environment could have been induced by things that they had to go through during training.
      From what I have read about some of the tests they had to do in the 50’s and 60’s to become selected as astronauts were bloody inhuman. Centrifuges ( G-forces) is just one of them another was breathing pure 02, another was trying to survive in extreme conditions such as desert and arctic conditions etc..
      The list is a lot longer. To me this is just another way for getting funding . I hope one day we will go to other planets etc but the logistics with todays tech? It is just not possible, we need a breakthrough at a really different level.

  25. The Carrington Event occurred during a similar solar minimum, and so have mini ice ages, or at least, that’s what I’ve garnered from previous posts here.

    An update on the geology of the Yellowstone hot spot posted here recently estimated the probability of a massive volcanic eruption from the caldera, comparable in size to three known previous ones (the last occurring 640,000 years ago), at one chance in 700,000 per year.

    So I’m more than a little curious to know, what the estimates are of the likelyhood per year of:

    a) another Carrington Event

    b) another mini-ice age, or

    c) another Carrington Event together with another ice age.

    I can’t recall ever seeing any such estimates, which, to this layman, should be easier to make than something that happened last almost a million years ago.

    I’m also wondering whether there has been any change in the attitude of the US Senate, which I have read has for several years now blocked the implementation of legislation passed by the House for shielding the US electrical grid against EMP. It seems to me that there has been media silence on this subject for about a year now too.

    • Various estimates place the Carrington event probability per year as 1%. Mini-ice-ages last centuries so a probability per year is a dubious quantity, but there are intriguing signs that solar eruptions may be much larger [but rarer] than what we have seen the last several centuries. There seems to have been an extreme event in the year 775 AD vastly exceeding anything we have seen during the space age: http://www.leif.org/research/Report-on-Extreme-Space-Weather-Events-2014.pdf

    • A recent novel based on the effects of an EMP is well worth reading: “One Second After” by William Foestchen

      • @Bohdan, It is not so recent, the writer and others have been trying for years to get the US government to pay attention to this ( the novel was based on a rogue attack on the US by detonating nukes in the high atmosphere to create a artificial EMP and destroy the US). From what I know the US (and other govs) have hardened essential parts of their networks and military hardware.( Faraday cage type of protection). Our civilian electrical networks are completely vulnerable to this kind of attack but if the sun causes this there is nobody immune ..

    • Leif says:
      “Slide 19 of my link shows just that and suggests much larger flares are possible, as are observed on other sun-like stars [slide 18].”
      ================
      1) Do observations of other sun-like stars (could we just call them suns, to avoid confusing the unwashed masses ) have anything to do with the behavior of ours ?
      2) Would our wealth (such as it is ) be better spent shielding our fragile electronic circuitry from the next CME, or by building wind turbines ?

      • a) No, the other suns are many light years away
        b) Wind turbines only work when the wind blows. There is a European project suggesting to link the turbines from a great swath of land stretching from Iceland to Siberia to ensure that there is always wind somewhere. I don’t know the fate of this proposal. Hardening devices and networks against CMEs is a good idea anyway. I don’t know if will help much if we get a superflare 100 times more powerful than what we are used to.

      • We should at least be digitizing and decentralizing and shielding humanity’s data and the means of accessing and manipulating it (ie. make it easily powered, transported, and protected from other environmental damage).

        Instead, access is being progressively monopolized, and EMP shielding is not even marketed at the consumer level anymore. I suspect, however, that the “richest 1%” have made the appropriate arrangements for their lifeboats…

  26. Paul Dorian of Vencore, Inc. said,

    “Finally, if history is a guide, it is safe to say that weak solar activity for a prolonged period of time can have a cooling impact on global temperatures in the troposphere which is the bottom-most layer of Earth’s atmosphere – and where we all live. There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity. The first period is known as the “Maunder Minimum”, named after the solar astronomer Edward Maunder, and it lasted from around 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the “Dalton Minimum”, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton, and it lasted from about 1790 to 1830 (below). Both of these historical periods coincided with colder-than-normal global temperatures in an era now referred to by many scientists as the “Little Ice Age”. In addition, research studies in just the past couple of decades have found a complicated relationship between solar activity, cosmic rays, and clouds on Earth. This research suggests that in times of low solar activity where solar winds are typically weak; more cosmic rays reach the Earth’s atmosphere which, in turn, has been found to lead to an increase in certain types of clouds that can act to cool the Earth.”

    { http://vencoreweather.com/2015/04/30/845-am-the-sun-is-now-virtually-blank-during-the-weakest-solar-cycle-in-more-than-a-century/ }

    That paragraph contains positions on solar influence on Earth Atmospheric System (EAS) dynamics that currently have significant contentions as yet unresolved.

    I think that paragraph is extremely important. It means there needs to be a significant diversion (~50% diversion) of research focus and intellectual energy away from the myopic CO2 focus of the IPCC and towards effects of solar decadal and centennial activity on EAS decadal and centennial activity. I will let the relevant congressional members know that.

    John

  27. So with the oceans flipping in the decadol sense, and low solar, if there is not the drop in global temp the coming 2 decades then WE HAVE TO RE-ASSESS our position The test is upon us folks, at least the skeptic side realizes it and can face facts.

    • I doubt 2 decades are enough to explain temperature variations, regardless of which current theory one adheres to. The systems, just considering oceanic/atmospheric intra- and inter-teleconnections would statistically require a much longer data collection period in order to draw robust correlations and causations.

      It is a wickedly complex problem.

      • Pamela, I think you’re correct that it may take longer than two decades. But if we do have some sort of solar minimum, we will know more then we know now.
        And if the Sun suddenly goes very quiet and it simultaneously turns much colder I think that would be powerful evidence all by itself.
        So, while it may take two decades, I think it is also true that we may know more, and knoe it much more quickly, if any dramatic cooling occurs.
        On the subject of cooling in general, if the earth does cool by any significant amount for a period of years, say back to the levels of the 1980s or 70’s, could that be taken as the final nail in the CAGW coffin?
        Can a claim of low natural variability, and high co2 sensitivity, stand up to actual cooling while co2 is increasing rapidly?

    • Joe, if you are waiting to “RE-ASSESS” if the GHE/AGW is a hoax, then you might be a “Lukewarmer”.

      (With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy.)

      Oh, and you might be waiting a REALLY long time!

  28. Leif’s predictions

    In reply to Leif’s predictions:
    lsvalgaard May 3, 2015 at 9:47 am

    The solar cycle has been interrupted. That statement, that assertion is not a guess. I know how to solve holistic multidisciplinary problems. There was in the case of this problem sufficient information to solve the problem.

    The solar cycle is not going to gradually slowdown over the next 5 years. There will be a sharp and anomalously drop in sunspot groups/number.

    Solar cycle 25 will be a special type of Maunder minimum.

    Observations will prove which of us is correct.

    I will explain in detail what is happening to the sun, what is going to happen to the sun, and how the changes to the sun will affect the earth, if and when there are in your face observations to support the assertion that the solar cycle has been interrupted and/or that the earth is anomalously cooling.

    P.S. I have kept a copy of both our predictions. I am curious if it is possible for you to change your mind. I curious how the public and politicians will react to significant unequivocal cooling.

    Regards,
    William

    • The solar cycle has been interrupted.
      There is no evidence of that or more precisely of anything dramatically unusual.

      That statement, that assertion is not a guess
      It is worse than that. It is not even wrong, as you have never defined or explained ‘interrupted’.
      I could assert that the solar cycle has been XCVBNed and what would not be a guess either. It would be nonsense.

    • > Solar cycle 25 will be a special type of Maunder minimum.

      Given that there has been only one Maunder Minimum, please explain how we can distinguish between an ordinary Maunder Minimum and a special Maunder Minimum. Also, how many special types are there?

  29. The video show a compilation of protons interactions, electromagnetic shower and cosmic ray spallation in a Phywe PJ45 cloud chamber at 2877 m. The sequences come from 8 hours of recording with a HD camera. Dimension of the surface of the machine is 45×45 cm. There is no magnetic field in the chamber;
    The cloud chamber was temporarily put in the Pic du Midi (French Observatory in the Pyrenees) in 2012 for the 100th anniversary of the discovery of cosmic ray.

    As this altitude, there is about 10 times more neutron and proton than in sea level. Theses particles can interact with the matter and break some nucleus which release other protons and neutrons, alpha particles or deuteron. The density of ionisation in a trail is proportionnal to z²/v² where z is the charge of the particle and v it’s velocity. Thus, a proton with a low kinetic energy will make more ionization so the trail will be bigger than the trail of a high energy proton. A 5 MeV (0.1c) proton have a range of 34 cm in air, a 10 MeV one, 1.1 m.
    The range of an alpha particle of 10 MeV in air is 10.4 cm.

    Their is also higly energetic gamma ray (or energetic incoming electrons !), which can make electromagnetic shower (electrons and positon) in the matter (wall of the room, or wall of the machine which is made with 1 cm of glass). Single e+/e- comes from muon or Pi0 decay, or from the 3 interactions process of gamma in matter (photoelectric, compton and pair creation).

    See the website http://www.cloudylabs.fr for more pictures and annotations about theses nuclear events. Feel free to give your thought about any interactions of the video.

  30. Ref: lsvalgaard May 3, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    “The illiterates deserve to be educated. Trouble is, most of them don’t want to. One has the same problem raising children.”

    Nah, just keep them pruned back and well watered.

  31. Leif,
    According to your study “Sunspot Cycle 24: Smallest cycle in 100 years?”, the strength of the polar fields during the decay of one cycle is assumed to be an indicator of peak spot activity for the following cycle.
    – A very recent paper by Robert Cameron and Manfred Schüssler states that the strength of the sun’s polar fields during the solar sunspot minimum is a decisive indicator for the activity of the next solar cycle. (http://notrickszone.com/2015/04/12/solar-cycle-24-continues-to-be-quietest-in-almost-200-years-suns-polar-fields-weakest-since-1900/) Is this really a credible indicator?
    – Sometimes is said that the slope of the curve, built by the data of the magnetic polar fields during the period of 30 days before until 30 after crossing the zero-point, is important to predict the strength of the next cycle. I small slope means that a weak cycle will follow. (http://notrickszone.com/2014/02/07/more-signs-of-global-cooling-record-weak-polar-field-of-the-sun-may-forebode-maunder-like-minimum/)

    Are these two methods really reliable?

    • The statement that the polar fields at minimum is a good predictor is not in contradiction with the statement that the field over the three years just before the minimum is the predictor. Three years before the minimum the polar fields stabilize and don’t really change much until after the minimum, so the field at minimum and the three-year average are really the same thing. I prefer the average as that is less sensitive to exactly WHEN the minimum is.
      Using the slope over a short interval is not a good thing to do, so the method in your last link is not useful.

  32. How could the sun possibly have any effect on the climate?
    .
    Everybody knows only SUVs and power plants affect the climate.
    .
    There are no SUVs and power plants on the sun.
    .
    So the sun has no effect.
    .
    If you want to get serious about REAL variable that affect the climate, you ought to study Al Gore’s face time on TV.
    .
    The more he is blabbering on TV about the climate, as in the 1990s, the hotter it gets.
    .
    He’s been relatively quiet since the 2000 election … and the climate got cooler.
    .
    The sun is not the source of hot air — Al Gore is.
    .
    All this is according to my AlGore Climate Model, which works better than those darned stupidcomputers, or supercomputers, or whatever you call them, that those “climate scientist” PhD’s use

  33. The data shows as presented by slides (9-19) how active solar activity was last century and how it strengthened last century , until an abrupt reversal came about (around 2005) which is still in full force presently.

  34. Again solar activity increases dramatically. Earthquake Activity will increase?
    Region Number of
    sunspots Class
    Magn. Class
    Spot
    2335 30 β – γ – δ EAC
    2336 9 β DRO
    2337 2 β BXO
    2338 4 β BXO
    2339 1 α BXO

  35. It’s funny watching all of the people trying to figure out the variables in what many think is a zero-sum equation. We’ve had ice ages in the past. We’ll probably have them in the future. I suspect the balance of all of the influences on global weather patterns, as well as heating and cooling trends, is titled in favor of the natural ones.

  36. If you are waiting, don’t shoot your mouth off with wishful thinking and unsubstantiated stuff.

    Leif says in the above.

    My question is how are we going to explore the unsubstantiated stuff is we do not look into it in detail and talk about it?. I thought that is how scientific progress is made. In other words a stance is taken and some try to prove it correct ,while others try to prove it incorrect based on observation and theory.

    I think studying this stuff ,taking a position and talking about it is the only way to make any progress.

    Then time will show if it is or is not correct. Until then, when the answer is not known I think exploring the pro and con side of all this unsubstantiated stuff is a good thing.

    • An example of unsubstantiated stuff: you said “This solar cycle looks like it could be one of the longest on record”.
      On what do you base that? You see, there is a difference between science and just talk.

  37. Solar Cycle 24 is the 24th solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began.[1][2] It is the current solar cycle, and began on January 4, 2008, but there was minimal activity until early 2010.[3][4] It is on track to be the Solar Cycle with the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750.

    I am basing it on the fact this cycle started Jan. 4 2008 and it is now over 7 years old and the maximum maybe has finally started to decline. I am thinking the decline in a so called 11 normal cycle is around 5.5 years and since this cycle is not your typical 11 year cycle in that it has been slow to rise and then the maximum lasted a very long time ,it might follow the decline will be long and slow. Thus a long cycle.

  38. Isn’t that how all of the sunspot cycles are determined? In other words are all the lengths of all the sunspot cycles determined in the same way? If yes then why is my reasoning wrong?

  39. I think the solar flux needs to replace solar cycle length ,sunspot numbers, sunspot areas or anything to do with sunspots in order to get a true reading of where the sun is as far as activity is concerned.

    The solar flux seems to be much more objective and consistent and that is what is needed when it comes to the evaluation of solar activity.

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