The Sun’s weak sunspot maximum continues

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NOAA’S latest monthly update of the Sun’s ongoing ramp up to solar maximum has just been published and, as I do every month, I have posted the latest graph, with annotation, below the fold.

As the Sun had been somewhat active in November, I had expected the graph line to rise. It has, but not by very much.

November Solar Cycle graph

As I did in October, I have also added to the graph in green the original predictions of the solar scientist community from April 2007. Scientists were then split between two groups, one believing the next maximum would be very strong and the other believing it would be weak. Both were wrong. In 2009 the scientists abandoned the strong prediction while simultaneously shifting the predicted moment of peak maximum for the weak prediction to early in 2013.

While the Sun showed an increase in sunspots in November, the numbers are still quite low and far below the prediction. Furthermore, an extrapolation of these numbers, which admittedly is not a good way to predict the future, still suggests that the Sun’s maximum has already passed and that the the ramp down to its next solar minimum has begun.



  • Rene Borbon

    The scientific experts’ predictions seem to be still to high (red line), when compared to the actual activity. It would be nice to have a link to a century long view of the same index, to compare to some reasonable temperature data: not picked or collected with bias toward collection stations near cities.

  • Just to be clear, this graph is not a measure of temperature, only of the number of sunspots visible at any moment on the Earth-facing hemisphere of the Sun. For a longer term graph, see this August 2010 post on Behind the Black. You should also read this December 2010 post as well, as there I discuss in detail the known links between the climate and the solar sunspot cycle.

  • Rene Borbon

    Thank you Mr. Zimmerman. Looking at the past 200 years, some thoughts come to mind:

    1. With the solar maximums gradually increasing during the 20th Century, and a huge decline in the early 21st Century, it would seem to support that this sunspot activity is the primary reason the Earth’s surface warmed by a fraction of a degree during the 20th Century and then stalled or declined from the second to last solar maximum—as long as one agrees the Sun has more influence on the Earth’s climate than anything else (seems logical to me).

    2. During the winters of the early 1800’s, with the solar minimums recorded then, did Europe’s and North America’s rivers freeze? If so, that would support the basic theory the Sun is the main influence on the Earth’s climate. And may we observe this in the near future?

  • Commenting on your two thoughts:

    1. The evidence that there is a connection between variations of the solar cycle and fluctuations of the Earth’s climate are unfortunately only circumstantial. The two seem to move together, up and down, but the cause of that linkage remains unknown. We have only gotten good measurements of the Sun’s total brightness changes over the entire solar cycle beginning in the mid-1970s, and that data shows too small a variation to account for the temperature changes on Earth.

    I have written about this extensively on Behind the Black. Do some searches there for keywords “solar cycle” and “climate” and dig around. I think you will learn much.

    2. As I noted in one of the links I gave you in my previous reply, temperatures dropped significantly during early 1800s when the Sun’s sunspot activity last plunged to levels we are seeing today. However, finding a direct link between these two facts remains difficult. There was also significant volcanic activity at the same time, and such activity also has a significant cooling effect on the climate.

    The important fact that scientists must learn — and haven’t yet — is to figure out what causes these temperature fluctuations. It might be the Sun, or it might be volcanic activity. Or it might simply be noise.

    There is one theory that might work but is as yet unproven. This has to do with cosmic rays. Watch the video at the bottom of this post at Behind the Black. In it physicist Jason Kirkby describes in detail the theory and the CERN data that strongly supports it.

  • wodun

    Thanks for being level headed.

  • Rene Borbon

    Mr. Zimmerman,

    Thank you – I will watch this video this weekend.

    Perhaps the Earth’s climate is an extremely complex variable length equation that cannot be simply explained by a single variable like man made CO2 in the atmosphere or the Sun’s spot activity, and so on?

    The political problem is obviously we have ‘scientists’ and politicians demagogging the issue for personal gain, who misrepresent the ‘climate equation’ to be simpler than it is.

    Rene Borbon
    Bothell, Washington

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