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The Sun crashes

NOAA today released its newest monthly update of the Sun’s sunspot cycle and, as I do every month, I have posted the latest graph, with annotation, below the fold.

The sunspot numbers for December were not only startlingly low, they actually plunged to levels not seen since May 2011, at a time when the Sun is supposed to be approaching sunspot maximum and the number of sunspots is supposed to be increasing.

December Solar Cycle graph

The green curves show the two original predictions of the solar scientist community from April 2007, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. Also shown now in red is the full curve of their revised May 2009 prediction, which NOAA has been truncating each month as the actual numbers come in. I have decided to show the full curve, since showing it all illustrates better how even this later prediction was wrong.

Meanwhile, on January 2 the solar scientists at the Marshall Space Flight Center once again lowered their prediction for the upcoming solar maximum, dropping their predicted peak sunspot number from 72 to 69. This is the fifth month in a row that they have changed their prediction, and the fourth in a row in which they have dropped it. Considering that we are now only a few months from when they say maximum should occur, their constant revision of their prediction suggests they really haven’t the faintest idea what causes the solar cycle, and are merely guessing at what they think will happen.

The present graph again suggests — despite the predictions — that we have already seen maximum, and that it occurred in November 2011. However, don’t bet on it! It is very possible for the Sun to spark back to life. For example, take a glance at the previous maximum on this same graph. The sunspot count peaked in 2000, then dipped, then rose again in late 2002. This same thing could happen again.

Moreover, the Sun this cycle has exhibited a two-faced phenomenon, whereby one hemisphere has been very active while the other has not. It is this split personality that partly caused the monthly ups and downs seen in 2010 and 2011. The Sun rotates about once every 27 days, which means that the two contrasting hemispheres should be visible on alternative months.

In fact, we might be seeing this happening right now. December might have been a weak month for sunspots, but January so far is pounding them out. If the high numbers seen in the last week continue, I would not be at all surprised if we see a jump in sunspots when the next graph comes out in early February.

Nonetheless, even if that happens, the numbers of sunspots continue to be paltry, lower than we’ve seen in a hundred years. Some solar scientists have even predicted that this is a harbinger of a coming Grand Minimum, where we will see no sunspots for decades. And when that has happened in the past, things on Earth get cold, for reasons that as yet are not completely understood.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • BSJ

    In the last couple days the numbers have spiked up markedly… May last, or not.

  • BSJ

    Oops, didn’t see the link relating to the spike.

  • Thanks for the update. I watched the Great Global Warming Swindle (2007) last night. This film really makes the rational case that old Sol’s activity should have much greater weight than man made trace carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere when considering how the climate changes. They also mentioned that the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a higher rate when the climate cools. A scientist in the film mentioned that because of the depth and volume of the oceans, it takes a few hundred years for climate changes (ocean warming and cooling) to affect the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They also take the viewer through the Maunder Minimum and the Medieval Warm Period.

    As I’ve stated to many in conversation and on this site, we need to remember that our view of climate must be considered on a geological time scale.

    Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is vital for plant and animal life on Earth. It is produced by man’s activities, but also naturally. This trace carbon dioxide is NOT a pollutant.

  • jwing

    I once lived in Boulder, CO and had a next door neighbor who was a newly hired associate proffesor with a PHd in atmospheric meteorology whoe worked at the University of Colorado – Boulder.
    Having a Master of Science in Civil (environmental water systems) Engineering myself , I asked my global-warming believing neighbor about my concern that the AGW computer models didn’t properly account for the CO2 sink of the earth’s oceans and that the Henry’s Constant for carbon dioxide solubility in water was being tinkered with.
    To my amazement…my PHd neighbor, who also worked for NOAA, did not know what the Henry’s Constant was!!!!!!!!!!
    That’s when I realized just how corrupt and devoid of real science the man-made global warming scam was.

  • “The Sun rotates about once every 27 days, which means that the two contrasting hemispheres should be visible on alternative months.” Both hemispheres should thus be visible each month.

    NOAA worded their release confusingly: “For the last 6 months … with quite regular intervals of about 27 days (i.e. about one solar rotation), the Sun alternates between an active hemisphere with relatively many sunspots , and a hemispheric “face” that is pretty much void of these dark blemishes.”

    -Spike R. MacPhee

  • hcg

    Good website. Thank a lot for writing that. I’ll come to your site to read more and recommend my acquaintenances about this website.

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