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Sunspot update: In May the Sun went boom!

As I have done at the start of every month since I begun this webpage back in 2010, I am posting NOAA’smonthly update of its graph tracking the number of sunspots on the Sun’s Earth-facing hemisphere, adding to it several additional details to provide some larger context.

While April had showed only a small uptick in sunspot activity, in May the sunspot activity on the Sun went boom, setting a new high for sunspots during this solar maximum as well as the highest sunspot count since September 2002. The sunspot count of 171.7 smashed the previous high of 160 this cycle, set in June 2023. This new high underlined was by the large solar flare on May 9th that sent the most powerful geomagnetic storm to hit the Earth’s magnetic field in many decades, producing spectacular auroras in many low latitudes.

May 2024 sunspot activity
The graph above has been modified to show the predictions of the solar science community for the previous solar maximum. The green curves show the community’s two original predictions from April 2007 for the previous maximum, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. The blue curve is their revised May 2009 prediction. The red curve is the new prediction, first posted by NOAA in April 2020.

The long term look

The graph to the right underlines how much time has passed since the Sun was this active. The entire previous solar maximum in 2014 never produced a month with this many sunspots.

What will happen next? Your guess is just about as good as any solar scientist on Earth. One group of solar scientists — a panel put together by NOAA — predicted this solar maximum would be weak (as indicated by the red curve). Another group of dissenters predicted in 2020 the solar maximum would be strong, then backed off that prediction in 2023, lowering it but keeping it higher than the prediction of the NOAA group.

The pattern until May had suggested the Sun would experience a double-peaked maximum somewhere in between these two predictions. May’s activity however now suggests sunspot activity will instead continue to ramp up and give us a strong solar maximum, possibly as strong or even stronger than the original prediction of those dissenters.

These are all guesses. We really don’t know what will happen.

I can make one prediction however that is almost certain to happen. There is ample evidence that high sunspot activity acts to warm the Earth’s climate, while low activity cools it. The exact reasons are not yet understood, but the correlation exists and goes back several thousand years.

Thus, it is likely this new activity will result in a slight warming of the Earth’s climate.

That is not my prediction however. Instead, I predict with utter confidence that the entire global warming community will instantly use this small rise in temperature and immediately claim, without any certain evidence, that it must be caused by human activity, and will demand again and again that all gas-power cars be banned, that our gas stove be confiscated, that our ability to travel be limited, and that the very idea of human liberty be banned in order to save us from the sky falling.

These activists won’t have any solid data to prove these claims, but they will make them nonetheless. And our bankrupt mainstream media — made up of “journalists” who mostly just rewrite press releases and do little real research of their own — will amplify those claims with great enthusiasm.

I am so certain of this prediction because of what happened during the last very weak solar maximum. During that time the Earth’s climate stopped warming, undergoing a two-decade long pause in any global temperature rise from 2004 through 2022. Yet, no one in this global-warming crowd reconsidered their claims during this time. Instead, for most of that time they simply denied the pause was even occurring, and when they finally admitted it had occurred, they made up absurd excuses for it, such as that somehow the extra heat had been magically grabbed by the oceans and was hidden in their depths.

The climate science community no longer does real science. They don’t look at the data and posit theories. They posit theories — almost always for political reasons having nothing to do with research — and demand those theories be right, no matter what.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • gbaikie

    It seems if June is as high as May, then it seems we might not be in Solar Grand Minimum.
    Or if not in a Solar Grand Minimum, it would it seem that at this point into the Solar Max, getting a month which 200 or more
    is not unlikely.
    But it seems like Cycle 25 will be a weaker cycle as compared to cycles within the 20th century Solar Grand Maximum, and it seems to me, it’s still possible that 25 could as strong or weaker than cycle 24, and it seems will get answer to that within next 6 months.
    If June is 150 or more, and later months likewise higher, it could be stronger than 24, but 24 was rather weak.

  • Max

    Here’s the newest theory being floated out there… We’ll see if it sinks?
    “Planets set the beat”
    “For some years, Dr. Frank Stefani of HZDR’s Institute of Fluid Dynamics has been an advocate of the “planetary hypothesis” because it is clear that the planets’ gravity exerts a tidal effect on the sun, similar to that of the moon on the Earth. This effect is strongest every 11.07 years: whenever the three planets Venus, Earth and Jupiter are aligned with the sun in a particularly striking line”

    I’m thinking, alignments occur briefly lasting only a few weeks. The solar cycle is a sine wave of many years between peaks and valleys resulting in a magnetic reversal.
    I’m not seeing the correlation unless strong CME’s occurring in a particularly active week on the intervals of planetary alignment?

    In the end they agree with Zimmerman… quote;

    “Although there have already been various attempts to explain these cycles and mathematical calculations, there is still no comprehensive physical model.”
    “the correlation could not be sufficiently explained physically”

    Lots of new named cycles to learn, like “The sun is currently approaching a maximum activity in the 11-year “Schwabe cycle”
    “vortex-shaped currents on the sun, known as Rossby waves“
    “the shorter Rieger cycles“ and we can’t leave out
    “the Suess-de Vries cycle”

    The Parker probe has been doing observation throughout this active solar maximum, I wonder if it’s learned anything new? This is from 2018. (The violation of the laws of thermodynamics in the last sentence caught my eye)

    “The spacecraft’s four instrument suites will help scientists begin to answer outstanding questions about the Sun’s fundamental physics—including how particles and solar material are accelerated out into space at such high speeds and why the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, is so much hotter than the surface below.”

    The most recent article was declaring the Parker mission is at it’s halfway point. 18 flybys.

    At least the ESA is publishing some cool video from their spacecraft.

    I remember an interview on the BBC about the new findings that would change everything we thought we knew about the sun observed by the SOHO satellite nearly 30 years ago. I listened to it again on the “way back machine” a few years later and never heard anything about it since. It confirmed Eugene Parkers solar models were correct. Observations of micro flares (now called Nano flares) as the mechanism for Chronal heating. Electrical/plasma discharges from the 9,500°F cool photosphere 1000 miles upward to the +/- 2,000,000°F Chromosphere. Spectral analysis verifies that the sun‘s light is consistent with an electrical arc through a hydrogen gas. Very little fusion byproducts are detected. (you receive more radiation from smoking cigarettes than you do from living in space)
    A “factor of three” less particles then should be occurring if the sun’s light and heat was from a nuclear furnace. (that’s good, if it was a ball of fusion, we would all be dead! The earth irradiated lifeless with every rotation)

    I have a fact sheet on the solar system written in the late 1800s. It describes the way things get cooler the further your distance from the hot object. That a steam train traveling at high speeds (50 mph?) would take 200 years to make it to the sun and yet we can feel the suns heat. They calculated that’s the equivalent of 9 feet deep of coal poured out across the sun surface every hour.

  • John

    During that pause in global warming, which not a single one of them predicted, global warming became climate change.

    Lucky for them, there is no weather phenomena that can’t be politicized. That snowmageddon blizzard was climate change and so were any warmer winters. El Nino, La Nina, No Nino- climate change. When hurricanes landfall it’s climate change, but a slow hurricane season is not evidence to the contrary. Droughts are climate change and wouldn’t you know so are floods. Ellis island and the Maldives are underwater in their psychotic minds. Most pathetic is when eclipses and earthquakes are also climate change. Don’t you know the cost of this catastrophe? Insurers do, because they pay and money is important; but that’s not The Science which is one the alarmists’ side.

    But I digress, I was really typing to say how can you correlate sunspot activity to climate over thousands of years? quotheth “….the correlation exists and goes back several thousand years”. I would think any inference on sunspot activity that far back would be tenuous at best.

  • John: Their are various proxies that exist that give us a good idea when past grand minimums occurred, with one of the most important the amount of cosmic rays that reach the Earth (They show up as up and down fluctuations of certain isotobes). Those grand minimums also correlate with other proxy data such as tree rings that tell us how the climate fluctuated.

    For example, a grand maximum of some kind occurred around the 1,000 AD. That corresponds with a general warming worldwide. Evidence of this is seen in the American southwest, as it caused a wetter climate that allowed the growth of the American Indian civilizations that built the pueblos.

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