The fast ramp up to solar maximum is continuing. For the fifth month in a row the Sun’s sunspot activity leaped upward. Not only has the sunspot activity once again exceeded the prediction for this particular time period, the activity is shot way above the solar maximum peak predicted for several years hence. This behavior is far different then what we’ve seen during the just completed long and deep solar minimum, when the Sun consistently underperformed the predictions for sunspot activity. Now it appears to be outperforming the predictions.
I should mention that it is not unusual to see a fast ramp up like this. The Sun routinely ramps down from maximum slowly, and then ramps up quickly. What makes this interesting is how the ramp up has suddenly made the Sun far more active than predicted.
Interestingly, the the solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center have not adjusted their prediction for the next solar maximum, as they have for the past three months. At this moment they still predict a peak sunspot number of 89 for the next solar maximum, occurring in May 2013. This would make the upcoming maximum the weakest in 80 years.
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