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The solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center significantly downgraded their prediction today for the upcoming solar maximum.
Unfortunately, the Marshall scientists don’t archive their previous predictions, merely changing the text of their webpage periodically. However, I have archived most of these predictions as they have changed. Here they are:
- In January 2011, they predicted a maximum sunspot number of 59 occurring in July 2013.
- In September 2011, they raised their prediction to 70, moving it forward to May 2013.
- In October 2011, they upped it again, to 77, moving forward to April 2013.
- In November 2011, they upped it again, to 89, moving it back to May 2013.
- In December 2011, they upped it again, to 99, moving it forward to February 2013.
- In January 2012, they revised it down slightly, to 96, still for February 2013.
- In early February, they kept the number at 96, but moved the maximum back to late 2013.
The new prediction calls for a maximum sunspot number of only 63, now in early 2013. This would make it the weakest maximum in a hundred years. This also means that the maximum has only about a year to go before the Sun begins ramping down again and we say goodbye to sunspots, maybe for a long time.
You can see that today’s prediction is almost the same as their earliest prediction from last year. Since this science group at Marshall was the group that originally predicted this upcoming maximum would be the strongest in decades, I wonder if there is a bit of bias on their part, a desire to see a bigger maximum because that is what their theories originally predicted.
Nonetheless, they are good scientists. As we get closer to the maximum it becomes easier to make a prediction, and they have honestly assessed the data and revised their numbers appropriately.
The upcoming solar maximum will be very weak. What happens next is now the big question.