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Ultralong Solar Cycle 23 and Possible Consequences October 13, 2008

Posted by honestclimate in Global Cooling.
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Joseph D’Aleo

Joseph D’Aleo

Ultralong Solar Cycle 23 and Possible Consequences

By Joseph D’Aleo

From ICECAP, May 26, 2008

In 1610, shortly after viewing the sun with his new telescope, Galileo Galilei made the first European observations of Sunspots. Daily observations were started at the Zurich Observatory in 1749 and with the addition of other observatories continuous observations were obtained starting in 1849. As a climatologist, I always found it amazing that we have had regular sunspot data far longer than we have had reliable coverage of temperature or precipitation.

Monthly averages (updated monthly) of the sunspot numbers show that the number of sunspots visible on the sun waxes and wanes with an approximate 11-year cycle, The last five cycles are shown in the diagram below.

See larger image here

You can see from this diagram that the cycles are not equal in magnitude (smoothed sunpot number peaked 110 to 200) or period (9.8 to 12+ years). If you superimpose the five cycles you can see this even more dramatically. The chart has the annual average sunspot number and starts with the year of the solar minimum (lowest sunspot average). You can see that cycles 19, 21, and 22 were higher amplitude and shorter periods (bottoming out in years 9-10 and then rebounding rapidly). Cycles 20 and 23 were less amplified and longer. Cycle 20 lasted about 11.8 years. It appears from the evidence we will present that cycle 23 has not yet bottomed out and thus is at least 12 years long.

See larger image here

See in this analysis how longer, quieter cycles correlate with global cooling and shorter, stronger cycles with warming. The current cycle 23 appears to be the longest in at least a century and may project to quieter subsequent cycles and cooling temperatures ahead.



1. John A. Jauregui - October 24, 2008

Our family just returned from a camping trip in Yellowstone Park. We had not seen the park since the 1988 fires and we were expecting the worst. We were pleasantly surprised. The park has recovered quickly and the Yellowstone Fire Interpretive Center explains why. We recommend the park and the fire center highly. The fire center explained that 1988 was an extraordinary drought year and that, together with history making dry lightening, simply overwhelmed the park in fires. The fire center displays noted that these fires reoccur regularly every 250 to 400 years. It is interesting to research the 1988 Yellowstone fire and the factors leading up to it from a global warming perspective. Solar cycle 22 started just a couple of years before that summer of drought and dry lightening. Relative to other cycles, that solar cycle had 1) a very fast rise time – 2.8 years, 2) a very short cycle length – 9.7 years, 3) a high minimum sun spot number – 12.3, and 4) a high maximum sun spot number – 158.5. That solar cycle period can now be contrasted with the extended duration of solar cycle #23, to understand the increasingly cold winters we are experiencing. To help understand these natural forces at work, here is some additional information from by Richard Thompson. © Copyright IPS – Radio and Space Services.

Solar Cycle Number 22 (1986 – 1996) in Review
“Cycle 22 certainly provided us with many highlights. Early in the cycle the smoothed sunspot number (determined by the number of sunspots visible on the sun and used as the traditional measure of the cycle) climbed rapidly; in fact more rapidly than for any previously recorded cycle. This caused many to predict that it would eclipse Cycle 19 (peak sunspot number of 201) as the highest cycle on record. This was not to be as the sunspot number ceased climbing in early 1989 and reached a maximum in July of that year. Whilst not of record amplitude, Cycle 22 still rated as 4th of the recorded cycles and continued the run of recent large solar cycles (Cycles 18, 19 and 21 were all exceptional!). A very notable feature of Cycle 22 was that it had the shortest rise from minimum to maximum of any recorded cycle.
Sunspot Cycle Number Year of Minimum Minimum Sunspot Number Year of Maximum Maximum Sunspot Number Rise to Max (yrs) Fall to Min (yrs) Cycle Length (yrs)
14 1901.7 2.6 1907.0 64.2 5.3 6.6 11.9
15 1913.6 1.5 1917.6 105.4 4.0 6.0 10.0
16 1923.6 5.6 1928.4 78.1 4.8 5.4 10.2
17 1933.8 3.4 1937.4 119.2 3.6 6.8 10.4
18 1944.2 7.7 1947.5 151.8 3.3 6.8 10.1
19 1954.3 3.4 1957.9 201.3 3.6 7.0 10.6
20 1964.9 9.6 1968.9 110.6 4.0 7.6 11.6
21 1976.5 12.2 1979.9 164.5 3.4 6.9 10.3
22 1986.8 12.3 1989.6 158.5 2.8 6.8 9.7
23 1996.4 8.2 ? ?
The maximum phase brought some extraordinary intervals of activity. Prime amongst these was the March 1989 period which started on March 6th with the appearance of a large sunspot region on the eastern edge of the sun. The next 14 days produced 11 “X class” flares (the largest category in X-ray emission) and 48 “M class” (still very large flares). However, the most outstanding feature of the interval occurred on March 13-14 with one of the largest geomagnetic storms in the last 50 years. This storm had an amazing list of effects on earth and in space. Power systems in Canada and Sweden failed as large electric currents were induced in power lines and tripped protective relays. Increased atmospheric drag, resulting from the expansion of the earth’s outer atmosphere during the disturbance, altered the orbits of many satellites with the result that NASA lost track of some of them for a short period. Satellite navigation systems failed to operate and High Frequency (HF) communication systems were also out of action. Aurorae were sighted at quite equatorial latitudes.
The maximum phase of the cycle appeared to end rather abruptly in early 1992 when monthly values of sunspot number dropped significantly. The decline of Cycle 22 to its minimum in May 1996 was also remarkable because of the lack of major flare activity. The cycle had a multiple personality – malevolent in its first half and quite benign in its decline. This behaviour contrasts with Cycle 21 which was more active in its decline than during its rise or even its maximum.
The cycle was less than 10 years in duration – a fair bit shorter than the “traditional” eleven year cycle. However, it is an interesting fact that all but one of the last seven cycles have been less than eleven years (Cycle 20 was the exception). We are in an era not only of large solar cycles but also short ones!
There is an old saying that there is “nothing new under the sun” – but this does not apply to the sun itself! Cycle 22 proved to be a remarkable cycle by any measure.” Google “Solar Cycle 23” to get a better understanding of the current changes we are experiencing in our climate. Google “Solar Inertial Motion” to get a better understanding of the long cycles of solar activity and their impact on earth’s climate.

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