The wimpy maximum continues

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The monthly updated graph of the Sun’s solar cycle sunspot activity was released today by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. I have posted the June graph below.

For the third month in a row, there was a decline in sunspot activity. Though the sun is producing sunspots quite regularly and there hasn’t been a blank day since January 16, the numbers of sunspots continue to fall far below the predicted level of activity as indicated by the red line.

All this is no longer a surprise or unexpected. As the solar science community noted last month, they have now gathered enough data to convince them that the sun appears to be going quiet, and might even follow this very weak solar maximum — the weakest possibly in 200 years — with a decades-long period of no sunspots at all.

This graph, however, is very intriguing. Even with an expected weak solar minimum, the sun should be producing more sunspots each month, not less, as shown on the graph. This suggests that the most up-to-date predictions for the next solar maximum might still be too high.

The sunspot graph for June 2011


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