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Sunspot update Sept 2019:
The blankest Sun in decades

With the release yesterday by NOAA of its September update of its graph showing the long term sunspot activity of the Sun, we find ourselves in what might be the longest stretch of sunspot inactivity in decades, part of what might become the most inactive solar minimum in centuries.

In the last four months the Sun has produced practically no sunspots. There were two in June, two in July, and one in August. The September graph, posted below with additional annotations by me to give it context, shows that the past month was as weak as August, with only one sunspot again.

September 2019 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, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. The red curve is their revised May 2009 prediction, extended in November 2018 four years into the future.

The 2008-2009 solar minimum was one of the deepest and longest ever recorded. Yet, it never produced a stretch of four months with so few sunspots, as shown in the graph above. Moreover, during that minimum the Sun was blank 71% of the time in 2008 and 73% of the time in 2009 (a record). Right now, with almost three months to go in 2019, the Sun has already been blank 73% of time, with every indication that it will top that number before the year is out.

Furthermore, the trend continues to suggest we are heading for a period of very few sunspots. Though one of the six sunspots seen since June 1 had a polarity that belonged to the next solar cycle, we have seen no further such next-cycle sunspots since July. There was one active region on October 6 with a next solar cycle polarity, but it was never able to gather enough magnetic energy to mature into a sunspot.

As I noted in my July 8 sunspot update,

[A visible sunspot for the next solar cycle] is very significant. It indicates that we will have an upcoming solar maximum, and are not heading into a grand minimum, when no sunspots are visible for decades. [emphasis in original]

Since then the trend suggests otherwise. Not only have the numbers of sunspots dropped (despite their initially low number), we have seen no further sunspots for the next cycle, other than one active region that was essentially a failed sunspot.

I admit that my knowledge of the solar cycle is incomplete, and that this lack of new next-cycle sunspots at this time in the cycle might be perfectly normal. I am skeptical however. It seems to me that during past minimums the overlap of old and new cycles was more pronounced. And regardless, the overall lack of activity right now appears quite unprecedented.

So, are we heading for a grand minimum with no sunspots for decades? No one knows. We will have to wait and see.

Whether we are or not however is of crucial importance. During past grand minimums there is evidence that the Earth also cooled, though the link between the two phenomenon remains circumstantial and unproven. If we see another grand minimum, and the Earth once again cools, then we might be able to finally tie these two phenomenon together.

In fact, we might already have that evidence but have not yet identified it. Since the turn of the century the Sun’s sunspot activity has been the weakest seen in a hundred years. At the same time, the Earth’s climate stopped warming. If the two are linked, the evidence for explaining that link might be hidden in the data we already have. All that might be necessary is for a scientist to look for it and see it.

Unfortunately, the corruption that dominates today’s climate science community might prevent that important discovery. The culture of that community is so obsessed with man-made global warming and carbon dioxide that it aggressively acts to discourage any scientist from pursuing any other explanation for climate change.

To discover a significant connection between solar activity and the Earth’s climate would strike a blow against the theory that global warming is solely caused by human activity, and that cannot be permitted. Little funding will go into such research. Peer review will work to block its publication. And the slander-mill that now permeates our society at all levels will work to destroy any scientist who manages to overcome the first two obstacles.

None of these foolish human political games however really changes anything: The Sun is there. The climate is there. They are tightly intertwined in ways we don’t yet understand. It therefore behooves a rational society to find out how and understand it.

At the moment I am not sure we are that rational society. And if we aren’t we might very well find that we are blind-sided by climate changes we are unprepared for, including a grand solar minimum that lasts for decades and cools the Earth so much that it makes it difficult to grow enough food to feed us all.

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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.

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  • Ian C.

    If it gets colder, activists and politicians can claim that their policies already show effect and we need more of them to make sure it doesn’t warm up again. If it gets too cold, they’ll find something/someone else to blame and the show goes on.

    Anyway, thanks for the interesting series on sunspots.

  • Edward

    Ian C.,
    Although what you say makes sense, sense does not take place in the climate change debate (which the climate change activists and the politicians have declared to be over).

    When the Earth’s climate stopped warming, rather than declaring that the Kyoto agreement had done its job and that we were all saved from certain death on our warming planet and throwing a huge celebratory party, the climate change activists declared that it was only a pause in the warming and that the heat was hiding somewhere, such as in the oceans.

    When that didn’t prove to be true, the climate scientists fudged past temperature data to make it look like the warming actually continued. It is a phenomenon among scientists known as confirmation bias, and peer reviewers and other scientists are supposed to look out for it.

    The climate change activists and the politicians are not going to “claim that their policies already show effect,” as you think they will. They will only declare that “we need more of them,” especially since their reaction to reality is to ignore the reality and present a fantasy that supports their conclusions (confirmation bias).

    If the temperatures start to fall noticeably, and the public realizes that warming is not the problem, the activists can always fall back on the coming ice age, which they had been warning us about half a century ago. However, they have so thoroughly convinced generations of people, they will have trouble changing the story, just as they had trouble in the 1980s changing from the coming ice age to the coming melting glaciers and rising oceans. Many of us became confused and skeptical of what they told us. Which was it: death by ice or death by fire? The climate has continually changed for millions of years, but which change should we prepare for?

    As Robert noted, climate science has been corrupted, and what the climate scientists tell us can no longer be trusted. What is most amazing is how much the rest of the scientific world points out the confirmation bias and how little the climate change activists, the politicians, the climate scientists, and the civilian believers care. Rather than acknowledge and correct the bias problem, they all claim that the skeptical scientists are heretics and must be silenced, imprisoned, or killed.

    Some people have believed the claim that climate change is going to end the world as we have known it. Not only do some of America’s politicians tell us that we have a dozen years to live (well, 11 now), civilians are coming up with their own solutions. One couple in Argentina shot their children and themselves, a decade ago ( ), and recently someone at an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez town-hall meeting insisted that we eat babies to prevent the coming disaster. These solutions do not make sense.

    Chicken Little is alive and well and is literally scaring people to death.

  • Phill O

    Ian C. Your prophesy might be right on!

    The sun spots seen, during the past four months, may have been missed during the Maunder minimum. They did not have satellite based monitoring, so, apart from poorer technology, they had cloud to contend with.

    Displaying data as percent of days does not treat the data fairly, IMO.

    The long and short, until I see the criteria the older data is based upon, I will believe we are in something that could turn into a grand minimum!

  • Phill O

    PS I know Bob is only following NOAA leading on the % data, but it really gives a skewed appearance.

  • Diane E Wilson

    There’s also the issue of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, which was only discovered in salmon migration in the 1990s, and wasn’t incorporated into the models of that era. Its period runs roughly 60 years, and corresponds with the high (1930s, 1990s-2000s) and lows (1960-1970s) of the 20th century. Its downswing corresponds to current cooling, making predictions and correlations even harder, before considering any corruption or activism.

    Climate is a chaotic system, yet some people insist on predicting climate with graph paper and a ruler.

  • Ian C.

    You might be right, I just wanted to point out that activists/politicians/profiteers are able to adapt to a changing climate. :)
    The baby-eating activist at AOC’s meeting was probably a troll (from what I heard) and I think AOC handled her well, considering that such a person could be a dangerous nut.

    What makes it so terrible is that many causal relationships still aren’t understood, that potentially essential components of the models are still missing/incomplete or lack necessary detail, and that the data are sometimes not the best or hard to compare. This allows for all kinds of results and I’ve seen in my past academic life (modeling & simulation) how attention was given to those results that are the most promising for headlines, grants, and vanity. I’m very much in favor of advancing our understanding of the climate system, it’s far from being “settled science.” Just adding to what you’ve said.

  • Cotour

    I was listening to, I think it was NPR or similar radio this morning and the guest was saying that the models predict 1.5C increase in temperature. Stated it as a fact. And he pointed out that the Sanders campaign has gotten on board with the predictions that the U.S, had to decrease its CO2 by, not 100 percent, but 160 percent. And all this had to happen by I believe it was 2030 or 2050. And its probably too late.

    Q: Has it ever been demonstrated that there is a locked correlation between the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature on the planet? Does it lead temperarue or follow it?

    From the conversation that I heard in their “very well” informed opinion of these climate warriors the temperature will without doubt rise. (Thats wghat the models say. (But I seem to rememebr that the models have never in the past been correct).

    However the term “Climate change” as we all understand covers any and all eventualities. And the speaker was very excited about the youth of the world and Greta Thunberg and the like who would fulfill the agenda. That little girl was both sad and I felt sorry for her, and she at the same time was terrifying to me.

  • Andi

    Decrease by 160 percent? So not only do we have to go to zero, we have to suck CO2 out of the air?

  • Diane E Wilson

    To be a little more clear about these models, they have never been validated. To be valid, a model must first be reliable, meaning that given the same inputs, you consistently get the same results. To be valid, a model must be reliable, and it must measure the thing that it purports to measure.

    Predictive models can be validated by a technique called “back-casting.” You feed it data up to a point in time in the past, and try to predict the present. It also helps if the result is within some “margin of error,” but there hasn’t been enough success with modeling to begin to approach some useful margins.

    The data must also be correct. Weather stations in the US have been surveyed, with deficiencies noted in terms of maintenance, placement near heat sinks or sources. Virtually all of these deficiencies will cause values to report high, with an estimate of roughly 85% of US weather stations reading one degree Centigrade high, or worse. In some cases, it’s simply bad placement (why would you put a weather station on top of a building in an urban area?); in others, stations that were once well-sited are now surrounded by civilization.

    NOAA and other agencies “correct” these errors, but the corrections are algorithmic rather than tailored to the placement and history of each station. Corrections tend to lower older records, and raise newer records. Further, the corrections themselves tend to be “corrected” over time, and an agency may pick up corrected data and apply their own corrections.

    We really don’t know enough.

  • Ian C.

    I’d like again (Bob, if you consider it rather spammy when I do it, say so) link to the 2007 documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle.” Except for minor issues, it seems to be largely correct and continues to be relevant. It has everything in it, inaccuracy of models, corrupting incentives to bias and politicize climate science, alternative views on CO2 being the follower of warming (not the cause), how the commies hijacked the environmental movement.

    Either that (e.g., planting trees that bind CO2, there are also machines under development that bind CO2) or the US would buy pollution rights from other countries.
    It’s actually hard for me to make conclusive statements here when the whole field is corrupted and politicized, but the “decarbonization” of Western economies looks nuts to me.

  • Cotour asked, “Has it ever been demonstrated that there is a locked correlation between the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature on the planet? Does it lead temperature or follow it?”

    You are on a website that repeatedly provides the answer to these questions. Yet, rather then do a simple search here to find the answer and then provide a link for everyone of at least one of the numerous times I have previously answered these questions, you guess or “seem to remember.”

    1. There is no locked correlation. Even as CO2 has continued its steady rise, there was a total lack of warming in the past twenty years. See this post, one of probably a hundred I have done documenting this fact: A review of Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, ten years later.

    2. All past increases in atmospheric CO2 have been well documented to occur after the climate warms, not before, thus showing that CO2 on Earth has never been a cause of global warming. Instead global warming has been a cause of increased CO2.

    Your school assignment is to do your own search on Behind the Black to find the many links where I document this fact.

    In general however, I really wish that instead of asking rather obvious science questions (which you do often), you would instead use Behind the Black as I designed it, as a repository of information on these important science topics, thus providing you ammunition for debating these issues with the hoards of ignorant New York leftists that surround you.

  • Raymond Adams

    Henrik Svensmark, Danish researcher,has linked sunspot activity with cosmic rays and subsequent cloud formation. Little or no sunspot activity leads to an increase in cosmic rays hitting the earth’s atmosphere causing increased cloud formation and cooling. My clumsy attempt at explaining his theory will hopefully stimulate others to examine his youtube video entitled “Svensmark: The Cloud Mystery”. If his theory is correct, and if sunspot activity remains negligible, then we should enter a significant cooling period. Time will tell.

  • Cotour


    If you had read anything that I have posted on BTB in the past on this subject you would understand that these questions related to “Global warming / Climate change” were more rhetorical questions. (It seems you do not read everything that I write, and I appear do the same related to you and your “repository”.)

    While listening the other day to Liberal radio my take away was that the interviewee was promoting that he was dead certain that the climate models were locked and loaded and the models predicted catastophic warming and it was now certain and death and destruction was our only future. This is his committed policy rhetoric and strategy. And it does not matter that every previous prediction and model has never been accurate or proven in the real world. (this was the take away of my post)

    That is exactly what he transmitted, and he noted how happy he was that the youth of the world, like Greta Thunberg, were on the job and would confront the adults in due time that have “destroyed” their future. (And he note the neccessary dramatic effects.) He loved the twisted face, trembling “How daaarrrre you” comment in the Greta U.N. speech. I thought it a disturbing comment by a disturbed little girl who has had her childhood stolen by her own parents and other Left leaning mind manipulators. Very sad.

    From Bernie Sanders website:

    “Meeting and exceeding our fair share of global emissions reductions. The United States has for over a century spewed carbon pollution emissions into the atmosphere in order to gain economic standing in the world. Therefore, we have an outsized obligation to help less industrialized nations meet their targets while improving quality of life. We will reduce domestic emissions by at least 71 percent by 2030 and reduce emissions among less industrialized nations by 36 percent by 2030 — the total equivalent of reducing our domestic emissions by 161 percent.”

    This is their intent and this is why Bernie and the rest of them will never sit behind the resolute desk.

    PS: “In general however, I really wish that instead of asking rather obvious science questions (which you do often)”

    When I ask such questions I am endeavoring to create dicussion and interest related to the subject, which I have accomplished if you have not noticed. And that IMO is in general a good thing for BTB, people participate. And if it has evaded you I have my own agenda over and above what your intent might be. I utilize your website for my own purposes.

    PPS: “Your school assignment is to do your own search on Behind the Black to find the many links where I document this fact.”

    Are you telling me to consider myself “reinstructed”? You did not like when I used such terminology in the past.

    PPPS: I have no problem dealing with the “ignorant New York leftists” that surround me. I tell them, “I am here for you when you need me. And you will be needing me”. As a matter of fact I am finding it very interesting, the other day one of them dared to honestly share with me: “I have spoken to many other Democrats and they would have no problem not voting for the Democrats in 2020 because they have become much too crazy and Left oriented, they seem insane.” All Trump has to do for many of them is appeal to them in a reasonable way, not to mention what will be the tremendous black and Hispanic vote numbers for Trump.

    The only strategy that the Democrats now have because all of the leadership understands that they can not beat Trump in 2020 with who they have to offer is the impeachment strategy. Plain and simple.

    The Democrats are desperate and like I have pointed out many times in the past, really the first to confidently identify it and the necessity of Trump asn president here on BTB, their existential death spiral where they will become so desperate that they will be willing to do ANYTHING, up to and including murder. Its funny how SOME of the high IQ nerds here on BTB have caught up and are now some of the most supportive of Trump.

    In that fact there is hope for the future.

  • Greg

    Just as “gun control” is not about guns, but control, the “climate crisis” is not really about climate, but control. Again. Look at virtually every law, regulation or policy advocated by the Left, and see who ends up with more power and control. Inevitably, it will be the government. Everything they say or do is towards this end.

  • Dick Eagleson


    The AOC questioner at that town hall, who might well have been a troll/merry prankster, was just rolling together a few venerable leftist memes into a logical synthesis. The Green New Deal isn’t enough. We need a Soylent Green New Deal.

  • Cotour

    Read the full Bernie Sanders “New green deal” manifesto:

    I did not realize how economically powerful the Leftist / Communist way of life actually was, it is quite impressive.
    (What a load of BS)

  • Edward

    Ian C.,
    You wrote: “You might be right, I just wanted to point out that activists/politicians/profiteers are able to adapt to a changing climate. :)

    As are we all.

    The baby-eating activist at AOC’s meeting was probably a troll (from what I heard) and I think AOC handled her well, considering that such a person could be a dangerous nut.

    Maybe, but coming so close on the heals of a Swedish professor suggesting that we eat the dead (as Dick Eagleson noted), rather than bury them, it is hard to tell, which is why I am not sure that the woman was a troll. As I mentioned, one couple was frightened enough of climate change that they shot their family, so others could easily become frightened enough to take a professor’s ludicrous suggestion a step further. These aren’t the first extreme measures that climate activists have suggested, they are just more extreme than usual.

    On Diane E Wilson’s and Ian C.’s conversation (sorry for eaves dropping),
    What makes it so terrible is that many causal relationships still aren’t understood, that potentially essential components of the models are still missing/incomplete or lack necessary detail, and that the data are sometimes not the best or hard to compare.

    Worse than that is the fudged or modified temperature data. If the historic data is as bad as the climate scientists say and needed modification, then the models were made using bad input for their creation. If the data was good and the models don’t work because they don’t include enough variables and have too many unknowns, then the currently collected satellite data is bad and all future conclusions and models will be bad due to being created using the bad future data. The mess that the climatologists have made of their science is horrendous.

    Weather stations in the US have been surveyed, with deficiencies noted in terms of maintenance, placement near heat sinks or sources. [And the data modified by algorithm rather than individually assessed.]

    Since most of our modern weather stations suffer the same problem, it is most likely that everything that we think we know about climate is compromised by improperly collected data, improperly corrected data or both.

    We really don’t know enough.


    Diane E Wilson wrote: “Predictive models can be validated by a technique called ‘back-casting.’

    That is not a good way to validate a model, but it can invalidate poor models. A model that back-casts correctly could still not do well at forecasting, but the chances are better than the one that fails the back-cast. A model that correctly back-casts from a large number of start points has an even better chance.

    Greg wrote: “Just as ‘gun control’ is not about guns, but control, the ‘climate crisis’ is not really about climate, but control.

    And the result is the politicization of science. Rather than being used in order to learn about the world around us, science is abused in order to support a political outcome.

  • wayne

    Dick Eagleson–
    That, is hilarious!

  • wayne

    a repeat from me, but somehow appropriate….

    “Dr. Trump”
    Louder with Crowder
    May 2019

  • wayne

    here we go….

    “Baby does Charlton Heston Soylent Green impression”

  • Cotour

    Now they have gone too far!

    Has any man reading this post ever been asked by a wife or a girlfriend to, please pick up toilet paper before you come home? And upon delivering said toilet paper been informed that, “YOU BOUGHT THE WRONG ONE! I WANTED THE SOFT ONE!!!”

    The women of the civlized world will have none of this, environmentalism be damned. They will only go just so far, and then they will put their collective feet down (Probably on the necks of their significant others). The Left, mainly the Beta men that originate this stuff knows not what they are fooling with.

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