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On Monday NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity in July. As I have done every month since 2010, I am posting it here, below the fold, with annotations to give it context.
Sunspot counts continue to decline at a rate faster than predicted or is usual during ramp down from solar maximum. Normally the ramp down is slow and steady. This time it has so far been more precipitous. While the 2009 prediction of the solar science community (indicated by the red curve) suggests minimum will occur sometime after 2020, the actual counts suggest it will occur much sooner.
The graph above has been modified to show the predictions of the solar science community. 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.
In addition, sunspot activity for this entire cycle since 2004 has been well below expected or predicted values. If the recently proposed double dynamo theory is correct and we are about to enter another Grand Minimum, with no sunspots for decades, do not be surprised if we also experience increasingly cold weather during that time period. As I have noted many times previously, the last grand minimum, the Maunder Minimum in the 1600s, corresponded with what has been dubbed the Little Ice Age, a period with crop failures and summers that never arrived.
Interestingly, this slowdown in solar activity during the last decade has once again corresponded with a drop in global temperatures. Well actually, not a drop but a complete pause in any global temperature rise since the late 1990s, a pause of almost two decades. Whether the pause will become a decline in temperatures or the warming will resume is probably the most important climate question facing climate science today. Not only do we not know how the slight changes in solar activity cause climate changes on Earth, we are not even sure how significant those changes are, having never experienced a Grand Minimum since the advent of the space age and the ability to measure solar output accurately.
If scientists can put aside politics and focus on gathering data, they might find out. Sadly, I am not hopeful, based on the level of corruption I see almost daily in the climate field.