New ‘Sun clock’ reveals that solar activity turns off and on with surprising precision

NCAR & UCAR News

Clock paints picture of a more orderly, predictable Sun

Jun 10, 2020 – by Laura Snider

A scientific graphic of the Sun clock
The Sun clock constructed by the research team. The maxima and minima of the last 18 solar cycles are indicated by red and green circles, respectively, and the blue circles indicate terminators for the last 12 solar cycles. Black lines indicate the maxima, minima, and terminators. (Image: Scott McIntosh, NCAR)

Solar scientists have taken a mathematical technique used by Earth scientists to analyze cyclic phenomena, such as the ebb and flow of ocean tides, and applied it to the confounding irregularity of cycles on the Sun. The result is an elegant “Sun clock” that shows that solar activity starts and stops on a much more precise schedule than could be discerned when looking at observations of the Sun in the traditional way – plotted linearly over time.

The new research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, was led by the University of Warwick in England and involved researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and NASA.

Solar cycles – marked by the rhythmic waxing and waning of activity on the Sun – occur every 11 years on average, but they can last years longer or shorter. They also vary in their strength. While they all build from a quiet start toward the cycle’s solar maximum before quieting again, the magnitude of that maximum can change significantly from cycle to cycle. During and after solar maximum, the Sun is more likely to produce space weather that can impact Earth, damaging satellites, scrambling radio communications, and disrupting power grids, among other impacts. The new sun clock could be used as a planning tool to help keep space- and ground-based infrastructure safe.

The clock was created using a technique known as the Hilbert transform to convert the linear observations of past solar cycles onto a circle, stretching and shrinking the cycles as necessary to a standard 11 years. As the cycles were overlaid on top of each other on the clock’s face, distinct “times” on the clock face when solar activity is flipped on and off came into focus.

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June 12, 2020 2:12 am

Very interesting. Thank you. So is the chaotic plot against time not a good way to understand the solar cycle?

https://tambonthongchai.com/2019/02/26/a-chaotic-solar-cycle/

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  Chaamjamal
June 12, 2020 1:14 pm

They’re looking at the same data in two different ways. This paper is saying that while the cycles vary in length, each part of the cycle keeps the same phase relationship to the whole.

Thongchai Thailand:
Point 9: “We therefore propose that the phenomenon is best described as the sum of two components – one regular and cyclical and the other irregular and random.”

Reply to  Paul of Alexandria
June 12, 2020 3:53 pm

Irregular and random may become predominate as current cycle ends later this year… devolving into a Grand Solar Minimum per @iceagereentry on Twitter. Brrrr.

I’d ask this girl in yellow for her opinion… but Tweet account was deleted.
https://soundcloud.com/chaamjamal

Tom Abbott
Reply to  UV Meter
June 12, 2020 8:40 pm

“I’d ask this girl in yellow for her opinion… but Tweet account was deleted.”

Censorship?

She won’t be censored here at WUWT.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Chaamjamal
June 13, 2020 4:30 am

Just as I suspected. EurekAlert! (i.e. rubbish)

https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-06/uow-nc061020.php

This “technology” could be applied to human lives. It could help predict that individuals will be born, get old and die. Now of course it won’t be useful to predict timing, but we could potentially put an end to the controversy that infants, elderly, and possibly as many as half of all males are unable to give birth.

Alfred (Cairns)
Reply to  Rich Davis
June 13, 2020 9:50 pm

” It could help predict that individuals will be born, get old and die.”

I thought that dying was going out of fashion – unless you have the virus.

Lonny Eachus
June 12, 2020 2:22 am

Great, but this is actually useful only if we know where we are in this representation.

So… where are we?

Javier
Reply to  Lonny Eachus
June 12, 2020 2:49 am

We just went through the solar minimum about six months ago.

Link to the study:
Quantifying the Solar Cycle Modulation of Extreme Space Weather

B d Clark
Reply to  Javier
June 12, 2020 5:19 am

No we are still in a intermediate stage latest sunspot is a sc 24 spot, current predictions are SC25 maxima will be the lowest magnitude for 200 years.

Pumpsump
Reply to  B d Clark
June 12, 2020 5:56 am

Are you sure? Latest single spot is about 30 deg off equator, indicating it is from SC25. And predictions vary – as the so often do – between similar to SC24 right down to half that. Personally I’d rather it was higher, we all know what previous long, low solar minima resulted in.

B d Clark
Reply to  Pumpsump
June 12, 2020 6:37 am

Ar 2765 is -30d that makes it a sc 24 sp it’s a extremely weak affair.

Krishna Gans
Reply to  B d Clark
June 12, 2020 6:22 am

Spaceweather.com tells, the actual spot is from 25.
Nevertheless, the last days, TCI is decreasing since its appearance.

Reply to  B d Clark
June 12, 2020 6:44 am

We are past the minimum.

Here is the solar magnetogram from GONG on Oct 21, 2019 when the F10.7cm obs flux was 64.0 and adj flux was 63.4, the lowest of SC24:

comment image

SC25 is alive and well:

ftp://gong2.nso.edu/mag/janus.jpg

http://users.telenet.be/j.janssens/SC24web/Butterfly.png

However the new cycle is starting out slower than SC24 did.

B d Clark
Reply to  Bob Weber
June 12, 2020 6:56 am

Its slower because we are in a transition phase with sunspots from maxima and minima ,a cycle is not confirmed till the transition is finished,

https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/10804

I’m not here to argue that we are not going into SC25 all I’m saying is we are still in a transition phase

Krishna Gans
Reply to  Bob Weber
June 12, 2020 9:41 am

comment image

The actual TCI

Greg
Reply to  Lonny Eachus
June 12, 2020 5:03 am

This does not tell us anything at all apart from what is put into it. They are phase-shifting and rescaling to align the cycles and then go : hey it’s amazing how similar they are!

Even after doing this “transformation”, there is very little interesting structure in the data. Look at the blue scribble. All you have is noise of variable amplitude which you have arbitrarily scaled and aligned according to amplitude.

It seems to me that this processing has obscured the information , not revealed anything which increases understanding or gives any predictive information.

Greg
Reply to  Greg
June 12, 2020 5:26 am

Last paragraph of the Conclusions of the paper.

Across the aa record, we find that the occurrence rate of severe events is significantly more strongly solar cycle modulated than that of more moderate ones. Estimates of the likely occurrence rate based on more frequently occurring, moderate events may therefore underestimate the solar cycle modulation of more severe events. This pattern is not seen as strongly in the solar cycle modulation of solar flares where we find that the proportion that occurs in the quiet interval is roughly the same for C-, M-, and X-class flares. This may reflect the fact that more severe geomagnetic storms tend to be more directly correlated with flare activity,whereas more moderate storms can result from other drivers in the solar wind such as high-speed streams.

They are trying to imply that there is some effect there but they are not quite sure what it is. They show no numbers or statistics to identify exactly what is related to what and then weave it full of conditional s like Could / May / Can to the extent they never engage themselves in any testable claim of anything.

That is probably about the most complicated way anyone has ever attempted to say absolutely nothing.

Krishna Gans
Reply to  Greg
June 12, 2020 9:46 am

My impression is, that even “Jack” Eddy has some problems to adrees all events to somwhat.
I’m just reading hid book about the sone, published posthum.

Krishna Gans
Reply to  Krishna Gans
June 12, 2020 10:42 am

sun, sun and sun
Don’t like to type on phone 🙁

Reply to  Krishna Gans
June 14, 2020 9:44 am

Clear in context.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Greg
June 13, 2020 5:08 am

That is probably about the most complicated way anyone has ever attempted to say absolutely nothing

👍

One of the reasons that I’m an anglophile is the endearing trait of the Brits to invent absurd abstract concepts complicating obvious facts that the average or dull child instinctively knows, that they then earnestly bang on about, oblivious to the irony.

I’m reminded of the Ministry of Silly Walks

tom0mason
Reply to  Greg
June 12, 2020 3:57 pm

With reference to “the blue scribble” maybe that is the effects of sun moving through space while the solar system moves in a helical motion about it. All that galactic variability that it travels through — maybe?

NeedleFactory
Reply to  Greg
June 12, 2020 8:10 pm

+1! Those were my thoughts, also.
If you apply a “transform” to make some (linear or otherwise) data look like a circle (or square, or dolphin), then there’s no surprise when the transformed dat looks like a circle (or square, or dolpfin). If the study says something worthwhile, the description here does not convey it.
If the “blue scribble” carries a message, then great., but it seems neither you nor I can read it.

Greg
Reply to  Lonny Eachus
June 12, 2020 5:07 am

“a more orderly, predictable Sun”

Maybe I missed something but where is the “predictable” part of the behaviour revealed by the “clock”.

Looks like a meaningless funky new plot. There is no analysis here, let alone predictive ability.

high treason
June 12, 2020 2:27 am

All in a day’s work. It looks like the sun has the equivalent of night and day.
But is it influenced by the 3% of CO2 increase that is from human activity on the third rocky planet?

Reply to  high treason
June 12, 2020 6:58 am

It looks like the sun has the equivalent of night and day.

It has a bright/dim character coinciding with active/quiet, ie hot/cold

comment image

About 2.2 years into SC24 puts us into 2011, the year solar activity for SC24 first reached my ocean-warming threshold. Their terminator line ends near the start of my warming threshold period.

comment image

The authors’ 4.4-year termination window within the average 11.1-year cycle is also within a few percentage points of dividing the solar cycle according to the golden ratio, fwiw.

Richard G.
Reply to  Bob Weber
June 12, 2020 12:05 pm

Perhaps someone could define what the meaning of ‘terminator’ is in their usage of the word.

On Earth the terminator is the demarcation of the day side vs. the night side as the Earth turns in the sunshine.
There is no ‘night’ side of the Sun. Pardon my ignorance, but this sounds like goble-de-gook on steroids. Mathemagics or magistics.

**We should be able to land on the Sun if we are careful to arrive during the night.**

Scott McIntosh
Reply to  Richard G.
June 17, 2020 4:46 pm

The “terminator” is the end of the Sun’s VERY repetitive 22-year magnetic polarity cycle. That “event” happens at the sun’s equator and triggers the growth of the butterfly of sunspots at mid latitudes. Also, simultaneously starting the new polar reversal process…..
More: https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.09083

The sunspot cycle and butterfly pattern are bracketed by terminators.

The magnetic bands of cycle 25 project out to 2031/32 with as good fidelity as we have right now.

Follow-up analysis in review – SC25 could be top 5 all time. Paper under review.

Further: next terminator within months – being monitored. SC25 growth will be rapid.

Editor
June 12, 2020 2:48 am

Hmmm. “ The clock was created using a technique known as the Hilbert transform to convert the linear observations of past solar cycles onto a circle, stretching and shrinking the cycles as necessary to a standard 11 years.“. So the solar cycle looks much more regular if you map each cycle onto a circle, which you pre-determine to be 11 years. I think they have missed the rather obvious fact that the circles would be a lot more regular with pi=3.0.

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  Mike Jonas
June 12, 2020 1:08 pm

The point is that while the cycles vary in length, the phase of each part of the cycle stays the same.

zack
Reply to  Paul of Alexandria
June 13, 2020 8:32 am

How about use different radius for each cycle? At least for the on/off red and green circles. Not however sure how the bar section would be affected, perhaps color intensity or bars that align on a circumference but extend both toward and away from circle point with a hashed transparency.

Scott McIntosh
Reply to  Paul of Alexandria
June 17, 2020 4:49 pm

Indeed.

Rob_Dawg
June 12, 2020 3:07 am

> stretching and shrinking the cycles as necessary to a standard 11 years.

Aka adjusting the data.

tom0mason
Reply to  Rob_Dawg
June 12, 2020 4:04 pm

Yes Rob_Dawg,
maybe they should have done some “stretching and shrinking the cycles as necessary to a” 4 x Pi years to ease ‘climate science’s’ circular arguments.
🙂

Schofe
June 12, 2020 3:19 am

Off-topic, but does anyone know why the University of Colorado have not updated their SLR graphs since Feb 2018?

http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

Apologies if I’ve missed a past WUWT post on this, but a quick search didn’t turn anything up and the same query on another (older) thread didn’t receive a reply.

Johanus
Reply to  Schofe
June 12, 2020 3:48 am

Academic research tends to be ‘cash driven’. Perhaps the nature of their government funding has changed.

In any case, the NOAA agency which regulates these radar/laser altimeter programs have published recent updates to their graph:
https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/socd/lsa/SeaLevelRise/LSA_SLR_timeseries_global.php

Schofe
Reply to  Johanus
June 12, 2020 5:47 am

Thanks Johanus.

brians356
Reply to  Schofe
June 12, 2020 3:48 am

Good question. You ought to contact and ask them. I’d be interested in knowing why myself.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Schofe
June 12, 2020 5:31 am

Likewise, why it is now next to impossible to get daily atmospheric CO2 levels from anywhere in the world after 2019 other than Scripps/Keeling for Mauna Loa. Geoff S

See - owe to Rich
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
June 12, 2020 2:45 pm

Sceptics are being starved of oxygen – otherwise known as data!

There are so many climate indicators I’m finding it harder to find data on these days. You name it, it’s gone or morphed…

Rich.

noaaprogrammer
Reply to  See - owe to Rich
June 13, 2020 10:32 am

Who needs real data when you have models? /sarc

Joachim Lang
June 12, 2020 4:01 am

https://earthsky.org/space/planetary-low-tide-force-regular-sunspot-sync-ups

“Another solar system phenomenon happens every 11 years: Venus, Earth, and Jupiter align in their orbits. These three planets have the strongest tidal effect on the sun, the first two because of their proximity to the sun and the third because of its mass.”

“Bottom line: New research suggests that a regular alignment of the planets makes a strong enough tug to regulate the sun’s 11- and 22-year cycles.”

Joachim Lang
Reply to  Joachim Lang
June 12, 2020 4:59 am

https://www.theplanetstoday.com/#

In about three weeks Mercury, Venus, Earth, Jupiter and Saturn will be aligned almost in one line!

Tom in Florida
Reply to  Joachim Lang
June 12, 2020 10:25 am

But when is the Moon in the Seventh House?

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Joachim Lang
June 12, 2020 9:04 am

“Bottom line: New research suggests that a regular alignment of the planets makes a strong enough tug to regulate the sun’s 11- and 22-year cycles.”

Really? Gravitational acceleration at the “surface” of the Sun (defined as the outer diameter of the Sun’s photosphere) is about 274 m/sec^2. The gravitational force of Venus at the Sun’s surface is about 2.8E-8 m/sec^2. The gravitation force of Earth at the Sun’s surface is about 1.7E-8 m/sec^2. The gravitation force of Jupiter at the Sun’s surface is about 21.2E-8 m/sec^2.

So, when Venus, Earth and Jupiter align more-or-less along the same radius vector from the Sun, they combine to produce a disturbance acceleration in the Sun’s surface gravity of ((2.8 + 1.7 + 21.2)E-8)/274 = 9E-10 = .00000009%.

Also, such an alignment would be equivalent to causing the barycenter of the Sun’s orbit relative to those three planets to be displaced about 0.65 m radially from its center-of-mass and in alignment with those planets. That, to me, does not seem to be a strong tug on the Sun. And just Jupiter itself is ALWAYS causing the Sun’s barycenter to orbit at 21.2/(2.8 +1.7+21.2) = .82 = 87% of this distance, or 0.54 m radially away from its center-of-mass, so the coincidental alignment of Venus and Earth is even less meaningful.

I would like to know the physics that says a <1 part per billion change in gravity anywhere near the Sun's surface can affect sunspots.

The old adage applies here: "Correlation does not equal causation."

Michael Keal
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 12, 2020 2:46 pm

Is it possible that something non-gravitational is going on? Electromagnetic perhaps?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 12, 2020 6:33 pm

Gordon, do you understand “pacing”?

Tiny impulses given at periodic, harmonic intervals amplify to large swings.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 12, 2020 8:03 pm

Joel O’Bryan, I do believe you really are asking about “resonance”, a more proper term than “pacing”, given the discussion context.

An 11- or 22-year resonance of external, pico-gravitational forces acting on the Sun’s surface is theoretically possible, but would require the complete absence of any damping. The Sun, being a highly dynamic object—with rotational momentum, large internal convection cells, magnetohydrodynamic coupling from convection cells to surface and photosphere and chromosphere, plasma coupling from photosphere to corona, coronal mass ejections, and streaming of particles out of its corona—is a system having inherent DAMPING.

The scientific field of helioseismology has provided some data about the Sun’s outer convection zones providing damping of body oscillations of the Sun.

Beyond this, since year 1900, the actual half-cycle periods of sunspot cycles have randomly ranged from a low of 9.9 years to a high of 12.3 years (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_solar_cycles ) . . . a range of variability not very compatible with creating resonance.

One can safely rule out any resonance amplification of pico-gravity perturbations at the Sun’s surface caused by semi-periodic alignments of any combination of solar planets.

Peter
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 12, 2020 11:27 pm

Can you please compare to Moon – Earth ratio? Because we know that Moon is affecting Earth.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Peter
June 13, 2020 3:10 pm

Sorry, Peter . . . the Earth does not have sunspots, let alone sunspot cycles. Therefore, any such comparison would be totally meaningless.

Krishna Gans
Reply to  Joachim Lang
June 12, 2020 9:55 am
goldminor
Reply to  Krishna Gans
June 12, 2020 2:17 pm

Nice stuff, I see relevance between his ideas, that great post from J Curry from yesterday, and my Sun/ENSO/Atmosphere concept.

Johanus
June 12, 2020 4:03 am

Here’s the full paper:
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2020GL087795

I think of the ‘clock’ as a kind of scatter plot, conducted in polar coordinates rather than Cartesian, in the frequency domain. (The Hilbert transform is similar to Fourier transform, but allows negative frequencies to vanish).

The radial axes are events organized subjectively, according to events of interest to solar scientists.

ATheoK
Reply to  Johanus
June 12, 2020 5:20 am

Thank you, Johanus.

Ed Zuiderwijk
June 12, 2020 4:26 am

This all very interesting but in order to make ‘predictions’ one has to know the length of the next cycle before you now at what phase you are. Or have I missed something?

Johanus
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
June 12, 2020 5:48 am

Actually, the ability to make predictions depends on the predictability of the events. So if an event turns out to be ‘unpredictable’ it will show up a random ‘times’ on the clock.

Fortunately, many solar events tend to be predictable (more or less) so they may cluster around fixed times on the clock. The breadth of the clusters gives a measure of predictability.

Editor
June 12, 2020 4:51 am

Hi Leif.

Stay sage safe and healthy, All.
Bob

Vuk
June 12, 2020 5:11 am

Most of clocks are driven by some kind of gears, in case of the sun clock it is a ‘planetary’ gear system.
“New ‘Sun clock’ “, isn’t exactly new idea. Someone called ‘MAVukcevic’ revealed sun-clock idea some 6 or 7 years ago
http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/SS.htm
It is featured somewhere on WUWT, but I found it here
https://weathercycles.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/schwabbe-triplets-and-earths-climate/comment-page-1/#comment-1232
As it can be seen from the comment analysis there the clock has to centenary gears, fast & slow.

ATheoK
June 12, 2020 5:18 am

“The result is an elegant “Sun clock” that shows that solar activity starts and stops on a much more precise schedule than could be discerned when looking at observations of the Sun in the traditional way – plotted linearly over time.”

Funny notion of “precise”.
Along with their nebulous “much more”.

From Johanus’s link to the full paper:

“By obtaining the analytic signal of daily sunspot numbers since 1818 we construct a new solar cycle phase clock that maps each of the last 18 solar cycles onto a single normalized 11 year epoch.”

That smacks of smoothing.
Indeed it is:

“We then obtain the Hilbert transform H (t ) for this (T s =180 day moving average) smoothed and detrended signal which then gives the analytic signal.”

“The dates of solar cycle maxima and minima are as determined from the smoothed sunspot number record by SILSO (http://www.sidc.be/silso/cyclesmm).”

ResourceGuy
June 12, 2020 5:30 am

Somebody forgot to insert the standard line on this one — unprecedented.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 14, 2020 9:55 am

I’m thinking ‘worse than we thought.’

Komrade Kuma
June 12, 2020 5:57 am

You mean these bozos have been using linear methods to assess data from a rotating sun made of a fluid plasma and surrounded by orbiting planets of various sizes and orbital periods as against using the sort of analysis regularly used to analyse the tides as noted, or ocean wave spactra or other vibrational, sound or similar signals known to comprise oscillating terms?

Sounds a bit climate sciency to me.

Patrick MJD
June 12, 2020 5:59 am

We are told by “climate scientists” the sun has no effect on global climate. Only modelled CO2 emissions do!

RoHa
Reply to  Patrick MJD
June 13, 2020 12:08 am

Exactly. This is interesting, but nothing to do with climate.

June 12, 2020 6:37 am

For about the last 8000 years there has been a rough cycle lasting centuries that determines our climate…it is not clock like….there was the Roman Warming Period followed by the Dark Ages Cooling followed by the Medieval Warming Period followed by the Little Ice Age….we have had a Modern Warming Period and now it is time for cooling…..keep cool….cooler temps ahead….Grand Solar Minimum.

Chaswarnertoo
Reply to  T. C. Clark
June 12, 2020 7:37 am

Got my new skis on order.

Henry Pool
June 12, 2020 7:43 am

Ja. Ja. Except for the fact that the true solar cycle is ca 21 years. It consists of 2 successive Schwabe cycles.

Gordon A. Dressler
June 12, 2020 7:49 am

“. . . with surprising precision”

Really? I think not.

First this statement: “The clock was created using a technique known as the Hilbert transform to convert the linear observations of past solar cycles onto a circle, stretching and shrinking the cycles as necessary to a standard 11 years.” So, the data has been “normalized” (now where have we seen that term used before?), which largely negates the term “precision” as applied to intervals in the original data set.

Second, visually, on can see that the angular spreads of the clusters of red circles, green circles and blue circles on the wheel plot are around 30 degrees each. This amount to an equivalent variation of 30/360 =8% for each set, or as much as 16% variation between individual data points in the red and green sets of circles, just judging by eyeball. I do not consider a range of +/- 8% comparing any maxima with any minima to qualify as “surprising precision”, especially on data that has already been “normalized”.

The plot is an interesting technique of simplifying and presenting data, but one should not go so far as to claim it results in things not previously known.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 12, 2020 10:06 am

Gordon
Two of the things that we would like to be able to predict generally are the timing of the maximum and minimum. Let’s assume, for the sake of illumination, that the next cycle were to be approximately 22 years in length, instead of the usual nominal 11 years. How does scaling to 11 years (thereby revealing the symmetry of the cyclicity) allow one to predict “with surprising precision,” when the next anomalous cycle would begin and end? Does this graphic contribute anything to predicting what the number of sunspots will be at some future maxima?

I agree with you that this graphing technique does little to expand our knowledge or improve our predictive skills.

Tom in Florida
June 12, 2020 8:27 am

Which way does this clock move? Clockwise or counter clockwise?

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 12, 2020 9:19 am

Tom, it moves sideways . . . through spacetime.

Vuk
Reply to  Tom in Florida
June 12, 2020 9:20 am

Both, 6 months at the time.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Vuk
June 12, 2020 10:15 am

Actually, Vuk, your response does beg this question: Why aren’t the maxima and minima grouping on the above wheel chart more-or-less 180-degrees apart?

That is, why is there consistent temporal asymmetry for maximum-to-minimum compared to minimum-to-maximum for the normalized 11 year cycles?

It may be convenient to say the “recovery” times following a maximum are different from the “recovery” times following a minimum . . . but what the heck is physically accounting for this obvious difference”

Vuk
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
June 12, 2020 3:32 pm

It is tempting to compare sunspot cycles to the oscillations usually represented by a sinusoidal waveform.
Think waves not cycles. The length of an ’11 year cycle’ is defined by two neighbouring minima, where oncoming ‘cycle’ overwhelms in the sunspot count the outgoing one. One sunspot ‘cycle’ is only the main section of a longer forward in time propagating magnetic wave with a faster attack rising edge and a longer decaying tail (streamlined shape) which is overlapped by the next wave before it finally decays some two to three years later.
In short, perhaps we should be talking of sunspot magnetic waves and not simple sunspot cycles.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Vuk
June 12, 2020 8:14 pm

Vuk, confine any “wave” function to a 3D spherical object (like the Sun) . . . must not it always result in a cyclic pattern (albeit with perhaps many harmonics), assuming lack of happenstance tuning for complete destructive interference?

Vuk
Reply to  Vuk
June 13, 2020 2:18 am

Hi again
It is the nature’s way of doing things, you might say that sun’s magnetic activity is in a permanent lock-down, as experienced elsewhere
http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/SC23-Covid.htm

Jim G
June 12, 2020 9:22 am

At first glance the suggestion of scaling the data to fit an 11 year cycle seemed pretty odd.
But it looks like the sun’s min/max and terminators don’t change very much irrespective of the length of a particular cycle.

Which is pretty interesting.

In theory you should be able to predict the length of the cycle by the time it takes between min/max and the terminators. Time will tell….

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Jim G
June 12, 2020 9:46 am

It is very much like climate models. They are decent at predicting the known past. Worthless for predicting the unknown future.

Not science. Predictive power of a hypothesis/theory is the foundation of science. But in post-normal science, “predicting the past” and then using consensus to claim means ski11 in predicting the future is where we are now.

Jim G
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 12, 2020 11:08 am

Joel;
That was my initial impression on first glance as well.
They did not fudge the data as others are know to do to fit their prediction, they are simply showing it in a different form.

They do show a fairly high correlation between the start and stop of elevated solar activity vs the solar min/max irrespective of the length of a particular cycle. By converting it to a circle, it is easy to determine the percentage of time between min/max and terminators and make better predictions for elevated solar activity. The application for this would be for space operations.

Can it predict any solar event like the Carrington? No, of course not. Does that mean that it’s
useless information? No on that account as well.

It is also an easy hypothesis to test. Granted it will take 30-50 years or longer, but still doable.
I’m hoping to last a few more cycles myself.

Scott McIntosh
Reply to  Jim G
June 17, 2020 4:55 pm

And the amplitude….

Joel O'Bryan
June 12, 2020 9:40 am

“The clock was created using a technique known as the Hilbert transform to convert the linear observations of past solar cycles onto a circle, stretching and shrinking the cycles as necessary to a standard 11 years. As the cycles were overlaid on top of each other on the clock’s face, distinct “times” on the clock face when solar activity is flipped on and off came into focus.”

So they normalized the cycles to an exact 11 year cycle and then got a nice circle. Wow.
Call me impressed. Not.

As for timing of major solar eruptions, the infamous Carrington Event of 1-2 September 1859 was 6 months prior to SC-10 maximum in February 1860. So be careful with generalizations. SC-24 major eruptive events of 1-10 September 2017 also surprised solar physicists with how late in the cycle those eruptions came. About the only time they are very unlikely is during the 2 years interval centered on solar cycle minimum.

Vuk
June 12, 2020 10:29 am

Apparently, if two cycles are distorted to be of same length (determined by minima) the maxima will be occurring roughly at same point on the arbitrary ‘common’ time scale.
However, just looking at the two last cycles that is not to be, as I show here
http://www.vukcevic.co.uk/SC-23-24-Max.htm

Tom in Florida
June 12, 2020 10:30 am

So the red and green circles are based on the last 18 cycles (to heck with the first 6) but the blue circles are based on only the last 12 cycles. Cherry picking?

Javier
June 12, 2020 12:10 pm

Give the authors the credit they deserve. This is an interesting paper with important implications. But you have to know the bibliography to grasp them.

McIntosh and Leamon have defined the “terminator” and have shown that it is associated to Niña conditions in ENSO. In this paper they define the “pre-terminator” and show that both separate the high-activity phase of the Sun from the low-activity one.

To understand the climatic effect of the Sun it is very helpful to consider the time in terms of fractions of a full solar cycle in order to compare different solar cycles that lasted a different amount of time. In this article McIntosh and Leamon have done it over a clock where each colored sector is an average of 3 months (44 sectors).

In an article that I posted here in WUWT a year ago I did it linearly to study the effect of solar activity on ENSO:
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I demonstrated that there is a strong statistically significant control of ENSO by solar activity at certain times of the cycle. Willis Eischenbach did a feeble attempt at disproving it but failed. I credited McIntosh and Leamon as the original discoverers of the effect in my articles:

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/07/05/solar-minimum-and-enso-prediction/

https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/09/04/enso-predictions-based-on-solar-activity/

The thing is that according to the clock, we are still about 21 months from the terminator and yet we are already in pre-Niña conditions.

According to these authors’ discoveries we are probably looking at a 2-year La Niña, and this has huge repercussions for the climate of the planet, its rate of warming, the resumption of the Pause and the lack of substantive warming in the 21st century, the period when most of the CO2 has been added.

Gee, now it looks more important, doesn’t it?

goldminor
Reply to  Javier
June 12, 2020 3:20 pm

Watch how when sunspots return that they will favor the northern hemisphere of the sun, and that will coincide with a steady drop in temps in the ENSO regions. That is why the budding La Nina will continue to form and deepen over the next several years. This will be a clear easily seen signal just like the last large El Nino which formed after the southern hemisphere of the sun held excess ssn count starting in early 2013 and lasting to mid 2015. … http://www.sidc.be/images/wnosuf.png

Now we will see the flip side where a long run of northern sunspots will cause the ENSO to cool for an extended period of time. It will be similar to what Silso shows taking place in late 2009 through 2012 where global temps last dropped below the zero trend line. We will also see global temps drop below the zero trend line, imo by the end of this year. That will put to rest NOAAs forecast for 2020 to be one of the warmest years of the recent warm trend.

Reply to  Javier
June 12, 2020 4:44 pm

McIntosh and Leamon have defined the “terminator” and have shown that it is associated to Niña conditions in ENSO. In this paper they define the “pre-terminator” and show that both separate the high-activity phase of the Sun from the low-activity one.

I was fortunate to have met Dr. Leamon and told him in person in 2018 at the Sun-Climate Symposium, following his dynamite presentation on the terminator that we, that is they, and I, found the same thing in terms of solar timing, but we just described and determined it differently, and it’s relevance.

Their terminator ending is the time when solar activity on average becomes high enough for decadal ocean warming, above my warming threshold of nominally 95 v2 SN I found in 2014, see black circle:

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We talked briefly again at the 2018 AGU meeting briefly, as he stopped by and looked over my poster, and I his poster. I recall him standing there at his poster asking someone who was arguing with him over auto-correlation “Can I defend my poster please?”

I’m not sure if Bob gave a reason, but the reason a La Niña can form often at that time of the cycle is because the accumulated solar energy above/below my ocean warming threshold always comes to a minimum at that time, after a solar cycle onset El Niño, such as in ’97/98 and ’09/10, which preceded the terminator La Niñas of their respective solar cycle.

The following was made in Dec 2018 for the new cycle. Adjust for actual sunspot cycle timing and the accumulated solar minimum timing will be ~2022 +/-, Fig. 12c., in the timeframe of their terminator La Niña.

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My projected solar cycle onset El Niño is in between the cycle solar minimum and this accumulated solar minimum La Niña, and is powered under clearer skies (positive OLR) by the new cycle TSI rise. Those are my findings that differ from yours Javier and these authors. The sun-climate are again in those circumstances now.

The question is will this cycle take off into such an El Niño from rising SC25 TSI then drop off into the before-mentioned La Niña before crossing the terminator sometime in 2022, as solar activity rises above my solar-ocean decadal warming threshold of nominally 95 v2 SN, or will it be such a dud that the current mild Cold Tongue grows colder and we go into a 2-yr La Niña?

NeedleFactory
Reply to  Bob Weber
June 12, 2020 8:24 pm

Thanks, Bob, this is interesting.
From what you say, I infer the value of the new paper is not about predicting sun activity, but making short-term (less than about five years) predictions about earth’s weather. (I can believe that the sun influences El Niño, but not vice versa.)

Javier
Reply to  Bob Weber
June 13, 2020 4:16 pm

My projected solar cycle onset El Niño is in between the cycle solar minimum and this accumulated solar minimum La Niña, and is powered under clearer skies (positive OLR) by the new cycle TSI rise. Those are my findings that differ from yours Javier and these authors. The sun-climate are again in those circumstances now.

That’s usually the case, but not always. During SC19 there were Niña conditions right from the solar minimum at early 1954 for over two years until late 1956.

Since we are coming from around +0.5°C SST Niño 3.4 average from July 2018 and just went negative a few weeks ago, I am not expecting a new Niño between now and the terminator in 2022, so I consider the 1954-1956 SC19 situation as more probable despite its lower occurrence.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Javier
June 12, 2020 7:23 pm

Javier
You said, “Gee, now it looks more important, doesn’t it?” Well, you know the old saying, “Looks aren’t everything!” You can color me impressed if Laura makes any predictions that actually happen.

Javier
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 13, 2020 4:34 pm

Well, I would be impressed if you actually knew who the authors of the study are before commenting on them. Obviously if you don’t know their names, you can’t possibly know what predictions they have made and you won’t know if they come to pass or not.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Javier
June 14, 2020 6:29 pm

Javier
The only name provided is “Laura Snider.” Are you expecting me to be clairvoyant?

I’m more impressed by the argument than the name of the person providing it. Are you suggesting that you are the opposite?

Javier
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
June 15, 2020 2:51 am

I made the effort to look for the actual paper and put a link for the benefit of WUWT readers in my first comment, and another person did the same. In my comment that you were replying to I mentioned the names of two of the authors that I know from their previous papers. I know what they have discovered, what it means and what predictions they have made from their hypothesis because I had previously read several of their papers and even discussed and written articles about them here at WUWT.

You just made a superficial comment addressed to me that denotes you don’t have any idea what you are talking about nor care enough to find out. Who cares about such uninformed opinion as yours?

Ulric Lyons
June 12, 2020 6:38 pm

Here’s how the clock works, the rise and decay times are astronomically determined:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/schwabe-cycle-variability-ulric-lyons?published=t

Pat from Kerbob
June 12, 2020 7:27 pm

Not sure if it has anything to do with solar minimum but all three of my ruhbarb plants tried to bolt to seed last week, usually doesn’t happen until late July

Ruby's Dad
June 12, 2020 7:47 pm

All they’re saying is that the oscillatory behavior of the sun’s magnetic field strength can be classified in terms of a Hilbert space (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert_space). Meh…

4caster
June 12, 2020 8:32 pm

When I looked at winter storm activity in the NE U.S., I (anecdotally) saw an increase or cluster in activity in the couple or few years during the ascending phase of sunspot cycles, just a year or two after solar minimum and the new cycle had begun, and then persisting through the next 2 or 3 winters. This was not for all solar cycles, but frequently enough for me to notice it. And, winters were generally worse in El Nino years that coincided with these periods of an ascending sunspot cycle. Of course, as we know, correlation does not mean causation. However, at least I’m trying to look at things which might have something to do with the effects we see. I don’t have specific examples to cite here, but if I wrote a paper on it, I believe I would be able to show examples of this. Perhaps others have noticed this tendency?

I’ve previously described in a few random solar cycle posts on WUWT, with either no response or at least one negative comment, that a group of 6 consecutive solar cycles constitutes a 65-70 year period, half of which is a warm period for at least the NH, if not globally, followed by a cool period. This is a well-known cycle in the literature, perhaps (or even likely) modulated by ocean cycles (AMO, PDO), which in turn might be influenced by some effect from these solar cycles. I wonder if these solar cycles manifested in a warmer period from ~1910 to 1945, followed by a cooler period from 1945 to 1976 or the late 1970s. That cycle was followed by a warmer period from 1976 to about 2010. We haven’t seemed to cool much since 2010, but if this periodicity is anywhere near correct, we should have a relatively cool period from 2010 to 2040 or 2045. There 65-70 year cycles may be seen going back in time as well. In addition, I think I see another ~200 year cycle, situated on century years, which oscillates warmer and colder.

Both of these cycles nest within the much more dominant 600-800 year cycle which gives rise to our well-known major warm and cool periods, e.g. the Roman Warm Period, the Dark Ages Cool Period, the Medieval Warm Period, the Little Ice Age, and our current Modern Warm Period, but the smaller cycles can modulate the large one by phasing or anti-phasing, giving rise to variations within the dominant warm or cool phase.

So, I hypothesize that a group of 6 consecutive solar cycles acted from 1910 to 1976 or so to produce first warmer, then cooler temperatures, and the next 3 operated from the late 1970s through 2010 for warmer temperatures. The first 3 solar cycles in each warm temperature phase of the cycle were dominated by an odd polarity to the sunspots, 2 odd to 1 even. The next 3 cycles in the cool phase were dominated by an even polarity, 2 even to 1 odd. So, perhaps sunspot polarity has some kind of effect on our (upper) atmosphere, such that UV is affected, giving rise to atmospheric pattern shifts. Or, perhaps there is some effect on CR modulation, which influences cloud amount, which in turn influences ocean cycles. Or, a combination. Or some other McGuilicuddy (unknown) effect. (My old professor (actually the same age as I) always said to try to add physical reasoning into your theory.) So, to summarize, groups of 6 consecutive solar cycles would comprise a warm-cool cycle of 65-70 years. I like to call this the Ludlum Cycle, after Dr. David Ludlum, the late eminent meteorologist / State Climatologist who chronicled NE U.S. winter weather and hurricanes. Similarly, 3 groups of 6 solar cycles (18 solar cycles) would comprise the ~200 year cycle, cycles which I think lately have been coincident with centuries – 1600-1700 (cooler), 1700-1800 (warmer), 1800-1900 (cooler), and 1900-2000 (warmer). Remember, these more minor cycles are of smaller effect than the more dominant 600-800 year cycles.

If this is anywhere close to being correct, then, in trying to be predictive, 2010 to 2040 or 2045 should overall be a somewhat cooler period. Or, perhaps the tendency for modulation toward cooler temperatures will be offset or even overwhelmed in a part of the 30-35 year period by the dominance of this major cycle. The period 2010-2020 so far has seen either slight warming or steady temperatures globally. We should be cognizant of the fact that we have rebounded out of the LIA and are almost one-half of the way through our Modern Warm Period, perhaps nearing the peak. So, we should not expect “significant” cooling through 2100, just some weak modulation by the two smaller cycles. If one wants to go out even further on a limb, the period 2040/45-2070/80 should be one of marked warmth, for the 65-70 year cycle will have switched to a warm tendency and we will still be at or just after the peak of our warm Modern Warm Period. Only the cool tendency of the ~200 year cycle will counteract that.

In summary, there do seem to be at least two if not three distinct NH / even global decadal- and century- scale temperature cycles in operation, and groups of solar cycles with attendant dominance of polarity could fit in to correlate with, if not explain, these cycles. Lastly, it was noticed that winter storms were more numerous and significant in the ascending phase of a new sunspot cycle, a year or two after the cycle began, and lasting for 2-4 years.

I shudder to think what kind of response will be elicited from Dr. Svaalgard.

Peter Morris
June 12, 2020 9:22 pm

I’ve seen that graph before.

It was on the main screen of the Death Star, right before it destroyed Alderaan.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Peter Morris
June 14, 2020 7:06 am

Yes . . . even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there were the equivalent of today’s CAGW alarmists in power that maintained they had to destroy a planet in order to save its inhabitants (from climate change).

Reply to  Peter Morris
June 14, 2020 10:49 am

Beware of Emperor Palp-a-Teen!

Hoser
June 16, 2020 10:55 am

I suspect we are missing something important with a cycle clock that doesn’t treat the N and S hemispheres separately. There is clearly a history of one hemisphere moving through the cycle faster than the other. As a result there are two large humps in the last few cycles (averaged), and the gap widens.

Ulric Lyons
June 17, 2020 4:52 am

“During and after solar maximum, the Sun is more likely to produce space weather that can impact Earth, damaging satellites, scrambling radio communications, and disrupting power grids, among other impacts.”

That does not always hold true. There were major lows in the solar wind speed and pressure at sunspot maximum in 1969 and 1979-80.

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Scott McIntosh
June 17, 2020 10:14 pm

The sunspot cycle is a derivative of the underlying (Hale) magnetic cycle which is far more robust (less variable) than Schwabe’s. The terminators mark the end points of the Hale cycles – their signature is not so subtle: https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.09083 – they occur between min and max. Solar/sunspot minimum is a period of cancellation of FOUR Hale bands inside of 35 degrees from the equator that is only broken when two of the four cancel at the equator – the sunspot pattern rapidly blossoms on the remaining mid-latitude bands that started their passage to the equator some decade earlier at around 55 degrees latitude. We don’t see this once, but 14 times – the full extent of the photographic record of the Sun.

The “clock” here – queued by terminators, think of a superposed epoch analysis – helps to illustrate how solar activity (from eruptive, particulate and radiative) occurs over and over again in the context of the Hale cycle. A large number of variables/proxies have been put against this clock and they help us to understand the physics going on.

The opposite of the terminator, dubbed the “pre-terminator” in this work seems to be the switch off of activity. It has its own interesting physical signature that will be the subject of a forthcoming paper! These “Camerons” (gotta keep the theme going although a “Reese” or “Kyle” might have been just as good) are fascinating things. They would not have been so obvious without SEA – further, their clear phasing with the Hale cycle wouldn’t either…

Solar minima form a horribly subjective means to do the same type of thing as terminators, but make for considerably statistically sloppier SEA. Unfortunately in the solar literature these approaches shape the canon and leave far more interpretative wiggle room than our analyses do!

A wise mentor – and broadly respected member of the Chicago school – once told me – “ if you think you’re right, make a forecast” We have, they’re published, starting awhile ago 2012 – 2014 protracted peer-review battle over a new interpretation of sunspot cycles in terms of the Hale cycle – https://arxiv.org/abs/1403.3071 (the interested reader can see almost all of the older papers in the series here: https://arxiv.org/a/mcintosh_s_1.html)

We have a paper locked up by a myriad of political (likely) and lack of breadth problems (even more likely) of peer review issues since 2017/18 that’s finally emerging from the permafrost – the focus of Javier’s interest and fine analyses of a few of our presentations. A second is in the works in a high profile journal around the implications of our recent work on clocks, terminators and the strength of sunspot cycles – which incidentally points to that of cycle 25 significantly breaking the 30 year downward trend… Only time will tell if we are on the right path, but it won’t be long – we’ve been tracking cycle 25 since 2012….. community inertia is very difficult to overcome – even if the system behaves as you anticipate!

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