It is that time of the month again. Today NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center today released its monthly update of the ongoing solar cycle sunspot activity, covering January 2012. I have posted the graph below the fold.
For the second month in a row the Sun’s sunspot activity plunged. The drop in activity has been so steep that it has cancelled out almost two thirds of the activity rise that occurred during the last half of 2010. In fact, the drop brings the Sun’s sunspot count back to numbers comparable with March of last year, hardly a sign of a fast ramp up to solar maximum, which is what solar scientists have come to expect the Sun to do. Instead, the Sun’s activity during this ramp up has fluctuated wildly, going up strongly for several months and then dropping precipitously for another few months. These wild swings have now repeated themselves four times since the fall of 2010.
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