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On Sunday NOAA posted, as it does each month, its monthly update of the solar cycle, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity in November. And as I have done every month since 2010, I am posting it here, with annotations to give it context.
Though sunspot activity in November was just slightly higher than in October, the increase was so small that it is insignificant. Essentially, the overall decline in sunspot count continues, matching almost perfectly the ramp down predicted by the 2007 low prediction. Solar activity continues to be far weaker then anything seen in a century. Whether this suggests a coming Grand Minimum, however, is not known. Solar activity could continue to decline as we move into the next solar cycle, or it could recover. Our understanding of what causes the sunspot cycle remains somewhat fuzzy, which means our ability to predict what will happen next is as fuzzy..
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.