Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right or below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.
Last week NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, showing the sunspot activity for the Sun in September. As I do every month, I am posting it here, below the fold, with annotations to give it context.
As much as I am always willing to point out the errors and foibles of scientists when they get something wrong or overstate their conclusions, I also believe it right to give credit when credit is due. I have been saying for several years now that the prediction of the solar scientist community, indicated by the red curve in the graph below the fold, had seriously overstated the Sun’s sunspot production during this solar maximum.
Well, it now appears that, as the solar cycle continues to run its course, that their May 2009 prediction is becoming increasingly correct.
The graph above has been modified to show the predictions of the solar science community. The green curves show the community’s two original predictions from April 2007, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. The red curve is their revised May 2009 prediction.
The sunspot activity of the Sun in September jumped, exceeding the predicted activity for this time period. While this is only the eighth time the activity in a month was greater than the prediction, the overall shape of this solar maximum as well as its intensity is more and more appearing to resemble the predicted red curve.
Granted, the prediction did not include the double peak, but it wasn’t intended to. Granted, sunspot activity in general during this maximum remains below the prediction, but the differences between the actual and predicted curves are becoming less noticeable.
I keep expecting the Sun to start ramping down to solar minimum but sunspots keep popping up. The maximum has now been going on for three years, and historically weak maximums have tended to last longer. I wonder how much longer this maximum can last.