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Dalton Minimum Repeat goes mainstream February 16, 2010

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Dalton Minimum Repeat goes mainstream

From Watts Up With That, February 15, 2010

David Archibald writes in an email to WUWT:

The AGU Fall meeting has a session entitled “Aspects and consequences of an unusually deep and long solar minimum”.  Two hours of video of this session can be accessed: http://eventcg.com/clients/agu/fm09/U34A.html

Two of the papers presented had interesting observations with implications for climate.  First of all Solanki came to the conclusion that the Sun is leaving its fifty to sixty year long grand maximum of the second half of the 20th century.  He had said previously that the Sun was more active in the second half of the 20th century than in the previous 8,000 years.  This is his last slide:

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Sunspotless Day tally now puts 2009 in 5th place, closing in on 2008 December 10, 2009

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Sunspotless Day tally now puts 2009 in 5th place, closing in on 2008

Via ICECAP, Dec 09, 2009

Today marked the 17th straight day without a sunspot. It will according to spaceweather will mark the 260th sunspotless day this year and the 771st spotless day this minimum.  This moves 2009 into 5th place in the top 20 spotless years since 1849, when that kind of assessment became reasonable. See the enlarged image here.

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See how the sunspot number has not recovered from the expect minimum (declared by NASA first in December 2008!!!). See the enlarged image here.

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This long cycle and the last 3 suggest that the phasing of the 213 year and 106 low solar cycle may be at work as it was in the late 1700s and the early 1800s, the so-called Dalton Minimum (below, enlarged here), the age of Dickens. Those days, snow was common in London. Ironically last winter was one of the snowiest in London in many a decade. Snow will fall next week in England (and Copenhagen). More later.

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Enlarged here.

Sunspot numbers for October 2009 November 8, 2009

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Sunspot numbers for October 2009

Source

Month 2008 2009
Jan 3.3 1.3
Feb 2.1 1.4
Mar 9.3 0.7
Apr 2.9 1.2
May 3.2 2.9
Jun 3.4 2.6
Jul 0.8 3.5
Aug 0.5 0
Sep 1.1 4.2
Oct 2.9 4.6
Nov 4.1
Dec 0.8

When the sun goes quiet Earth shivers September 13, 2009

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When the sun goes quiet Earth shivers

By STEPHEN CAUCHI
Sydney Morning Herald, September 13, 2009

THE sun has gone quiet, with a sharp decline in sunspot numbers in the past couple of years – possibly heralding the start of a solar depression that could lead to cooler weather on Earth.

During the past millennium, whenever the sun experienced long periods of low sunspot numbers, Earth had equally long, cold snaps. The number of sunspots – dark and intensely magnetic blotches on the sun’s surface – are at their lowest since 1913.

”This is the quietest sun we’ve seen in almost a century,” said NASA solar forecaster David Hathaway.

”Since the space age began in the 1950s, solar activity has been generally high. Five of the most intense solar cycles on record have occurred in the past 50 years. We’re just not used to this type of deep calm.”

Sunspots cause other solar activity such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, radiation from which can interfere with Earth’s magnetic field, upper atmosphere and, many scientists believe, Earth’s climate.

There have been more than 200 spotless days so far this year and scientists expect the count to reach 290 by year’s end. Last year there were 266 spotless days, the previous lowest number recorded since 1913, when there were 311 spotless days.

Sunspot numbers move in regular cycles of 11 years, so the timing of this quiet spell is not unexpected. What is unexpected is the depth and length of the spell. Some scientists believe it may be the start of a long period when the entire cycle is depressed, as it has been several times during the past millennium.

The most famous depression was the Maunder Minimum of 1645 to 1715 in which sunspots nearly vanished for 70 years. It coincided with the coldest period of the Little Ice Age.

”People are wondering about whether we’re going into another Maunder Minimum or not,” said Iver Cairns, from the University of Sydney’s school of physics. ”I think the balance of opinion is that it’s too early to tell. But it could be very significant.”

Professor Cairns said the fluctuation in sunspot numbers was not fully understood but it was linked to the ”magnetic dynamo of the sun”.

It was equally uncertain how – or indeed if – changes in solar activity affect Earth’s climate.

”What some people think is that energetic particles from the sun get into Earth’s magnetosphere and some of them get down to the ozone layer – you’re talking 40 to 80 kilometres above the surface of Earth. They alter the chemistry of that layer … That changes the chemistry of other layers of the atmosphere, leading to winds and changes in temperature,” he said.

NASA: Are Sunspots Disappearing? September 4, 2009

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Are Sunspots Disappearing?

NASA
September 3, 2009

September 3, 2009: The sun is in the pits of the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Weeks and sometimes whole months go by without even a single tiny sunspot. The quiet has dragged out for more than two years, prompting some observers to wonder, are sunspots disappearing?

“Personally, I’m betting that sunspots are coming back,” says researcher Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. But, he allows, “there is some evidence that they won’t.”

Penn’s colleague Bill Livingston of the NSO has been measuring the magnetic fields of sunspots for the past 17 years, and he has found a remarkable trend. Sunspot magnetism is on the decline:

Above: Sunspot magnetic fields measured by Livingston and Penn from 1992 – Feb. 2009 using an infrared Zeeman splitting technique. [more]

“Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year,” says Penn. “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”

This disappearing act is possible because sunspots are made of magnetism. The “firmament” of a sunspot is not matter but rather a strong magnetic field that appears dark because it blocks the upflow of heat from the sun’s interior. If Earth lost its magnetic field, the solid planet would remain intact, but if a sunspot loses its magnetism, it ceases to exist.

Read the rest here


Small sunspot emerges September 1, 2009

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Small sunspot emerges

Via SpaceWeather
September 1, 2009

SUNSPOT 1025: A new sunspot emerged yesterday and interrupted a 51-day string of blank suns. It wasn’t much of an interruption. Sunspot 1025 is small and may already be fading away.

Sunspot 1025, which emerged yesterday to interrupt a string of 51 spotless days, may already be fading away. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot 1025, which emerged yesterday to interrupt a string of 51 spotless days, may already be fading away. Photo credit: SOHO/MDI

Sun Run of 51 Days Without a Spot Now Among the Top 5 Longest August 31, 2009

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Sun Run of 51 Days Without a Spot Now Among the Top 5 Longest

By Joseph D’Aleo
Via ICECAP

Sunday, August 30th marks the 51st straight day without a sunspot, one of the longest stretches in a century. One more day and we have a spotless month (we had some by some accounts one last August but a few observatories thought they saw a spot on the sun for a few hours one day). It would be either the first or second spotless month since 1913 depending on whether you count last August as spotless.

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In fact it rises into 4th place among all spotless periods since 1849 (first table here). Note: It is 5th place if you accept a spotless August 2008 which would have led to a stretch of 52 days. The total number of spotless days this transition from cycle 23 to 24 is now 704, exceeding the number for cycle 15 in the early 1900s (below, enlarged here).

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We have had 193 spotless days this year (79% of the days). We are in the top 20 years in 16th place. We will very likely rapidly rise up the list in upcoming weeks and rival 2008’s 266 days and likely end in the top 5 years. 2007, 2008, 2009 will only have 1911, 1912, 1913 in the top 20 as string of 3 per transition (below, enlarged here).

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The cycle minimum probably was December, 2008. January 2009’s 13 month average came up a bit due to slight bump in activity in June and July but if August should end up sunspotless and September low, we could have a double bottom. Still, the 12.7 years assuming December 2008 was longest in two centuries (below, enlarged here).

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You can see on this chart, by 13 years after the solar minimum year, most of the last 5 cycles already had recovered, in one case already to the solar max of the subseuent cycle (below, enlarged here).

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This cycle has continued to decline in the solar irradiance, solar flux, sunspot number and geomagnetic activity after 10 years. On the following chart produced by Anthony Watts, you can see the Total Solar Irradiance declining whereas the prior cycle was rebounding (below, enlarged here).

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Also see the daily TSI which goes through short term cycles at the lowest point of the last few months as of the last plotted measurement.

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Clilverd et al 2006 suggests using a statistical analysis of the various cycles (11, 22, 53, 88, 105, 213, and 426 years) shows the next two cycles will likely be very quiet much like those of 200 years ago in the early 1800s, the so called Dalton Minimum, the time of Dickens (with snows and cold in London like last winter) (below, enlarged here).

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See what David Archibald shows what the result might be if Clilverd is correct here. Some have not ruled out an even stronger Maunder like Minimum.

Read more in this pdf here.

Global cooling/global waming: The sun and the missing data August 21, 2009

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Global cooling/global waming: The sun and the missing data

This image of the sun shows no sunspots continuing to be the case

By Steve LaNore
Examiner, August 20, 2009

The sun seems to be back to its slumbering ways as we head towards the fall 2009.

During the spring and summer months, sunspot activity, one measure of the sun’s energy output (another is the 10.7cm radio flux), was quite active. In July, the strongest flare in two years erupted from a spot that was rotating across the face of the sun. July was the third month in a row with heightened activity; this suggested a trend which would at last fall in line with projections for solar change.

However, solar physics is still a science very much on the frontier of discovery. I have read some blogs where contributors to “Web” thoughts are quite harsh and quick to weigh in that these missed forecasts show that scientists haven’t a clue about what the sun is doing.

Such viewpoints illustrate poor understanding of what science is all about. It’s a discovery process. Meteorologists don’t always get the forecast right (which is frustrating to me and all weather scientists) but it doesn’t mean our projections have no value at all. Astronomers have had to “change their story” over the centuries as better detection methods became available, etc. Furthermore, natural processes stump the most learned experts at times: earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, and so forth.

Now, let’s lay aside the hits and misses of the science community and focus on what the sun is doing now. Since mid-July our friendly neighborhood star has gone blank again. It’s the longest blank streak in a year. This means a continuation of the deepest solar minimum in a hundred years: at least for now. The longest number of consecutive blank days during the present cycle 23/24 minimum was 52 during the summer of 2008. The most recent count was 41 as of August 20th.

If 2009 logs 64% blank days during the remainder of the year, it will better 2008. Given that the ratio YTD is 4/5 (or about 80%) through August 20, it’s quite possible 2009 will displace 2008 as the quietest year since 1913.

None of this is to say we’re entering some kind of “Dalton Minimum” or worse yet a “Maunder Minimum”. If this were to occur, then it’s possible a more significant and prolonged global cooling could occur. However the data supporting such a conclusion, although somewhat correlated to previous temperature dips, is not an iron clad case. Just as global warming as presented today is not.

If global warming were so over-riding of any natural process, (the warming of 1980-2000 is offered up as “proof”), please tell me why the trend has gone neutral to slightly cooler over the past few years. One would expect a continued upward trend given more and more carbon dioxide and methane in the air every year. Perhaps the sun and more likely oceanic cycles have a lot to do with this variation. If these fluctuations out of our control can make such a difference (as the 1997-1998 El Nino did with worldwide warming) in the global temperature distribution then who’s to say that the late 20th Century surge in heat is just another significant but natural anomaly like the sun’s present sleepiness, or record cold during the past few winters in Canada and the Great Lakes?

Read the rest here

Is the Sun Missing Its Spots? July 21, 2009

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Is the Sun Missing Its Spots?

The New York Times, July 20, 2009


NASA
SUN GAZING These photos show sunspots near solar maximum on July 19, 2000, and near solar minimum on March 18, 2009. Some global warming skeptics speculate that the Sun may be on the verge of an extended slumber.

The Sun is still blank (mostly).

Ever since Samuel Heinrich Schwabe, a German astronomer, first noted in 1843 that sunspots burgeon and wane over a roughly 11-year cycle, scientists have carefully watched the Sun’s activity. In the latest lull, the Sun should have reached its calmest, least pockmarked state last fall.

Indeed, last year marked the blankest year of the Sun in the last half-century — 266 days with not a single sunspot visible from Earth. Then, in the first four months of 2009, the Sun became even more blank, the pace of sunspots slowing more.

“It’s been as dead as a doornail,” David Hathaway, a solar physicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said a couple of months ago.

The Sun perked up in June and July, with a sizeable clump of 20 sunspots earlier this month.

Now it is blank again, consistent with expectations that this solar cycle will be smaller and calmer, and the maximum of activity, expected to arrive in May 2013 will not be all that maximum.

For operators of satellites and power grids, that is good news. The same roiling magnetic fields that generate sunspot blotches also accelerate a devastating rain of particles that can overload and wreck electronic equipment in orbit or on Earth.

A panel of 12 scientists assembled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now predicts that the May 2013 peak will average 90 sunspots during that month. That would make it the weakest solar maximum since 1928, which peaked at 78 sunspots. During an average solar maximum, the Sun is covered with an average of 120 sunspots.

But the panel’s consensus “was not a unanimous decision,” said Douglas A. Biesecker, chairman of the panel. One member still believed the cycle would roar to life while others thought the maximum would peter out at only 70.

Among some global warming skeptics, there is speculation that the Sun may be on the verge of falling into an extended slumber similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, several sunspot-scarce decades during the 17th and 18th centuries that coincided with an extended chilly period.

Most solar physicists do not think anything that odd is going on with the Sun. With the recent burst of sunspots, “I don’t see we’re going into that,” Dr. Hathaway said last week.

Read the rest here

Sunspot numbers for June 2009 July 5, 2009

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Sunspot numbers for June 2009

Source

Month 2008 2009
Jan 3.3 1.5
Feb 2.1 1.4
Mar 9.3 0.7
Apr 2.9 1.2
May 3.2 2.9
Jun 3.4 2.6
Jul 0.8
Aug 0.5
Sep 1.1
Oct 2.9
Nov 4.1
Dec 0.8
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