Sunspot activity crashes


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The monthly NOAA update of the solar cycle was released yesterday, showing the Sun’s sunspot activity in April. It is annotated and posted below.

April 2016 Solar Cycle graph

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.

After four months of steady decline matched exactly with the low prediction from 2007 (the lower green line curve), in April sunspot activity plummeted to the lowest level seen since January 2011.

This decline shouldn’t surprise anyone. The now ending solar maximum has been the weakest in a century and, as noted here, it is now more than a year since the last X-class solar flare, the most powerful kind, with this solar maximum seeing only 45 X-class events, compared to 126 during the previous solar maximum.

As I have noted repeatedly, the big question now is what will happen during the next solar cycle. Will we get another weak solar cycle or will the sun’s sunspot activity recover? Or will sunspots vanish and will the sun enter a grand minimum, with no sunspots for decades? At the moment no one knows, though some solar scientists favor the latter.

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2 comments

  • Max

    Wow, this could be bad. The suns output doesn’t very more than 1%. But we have not experienced a Grand minimum to know what we don’t know. It appears that the minimum will be here three years sooner then the 11 year average.

    The magnetic field is more important and has more influence than most people realize. As the sun’s magnetic field contracts and becomes chaotic during a minimum, earths and Jupiter’s magnetic field’s are no longer compressed and extend outward. As I recall Jupiters magnetic pole glows brighter during a solar minimum because of all of the cosmic radiation that it gathers along the lines of magnetic force.
    On earth, the cosmic radiation appears to cause cloud formation. I have not read why this is so, but cooler temperatures and more rainfall usually occur during solar minimums.

    Cosmic radiation also alters carbon dioxide into carbon-14 making our atmosphere more radioactive. (yes, the same carbon-14 used for dating old buried dead objects)
    If the minimum is extended, the mountain tops would be loaded with snow that will form glaciers refilling basins from thousands of years ago. Temperatures will be cooler worldwide and growing seasons will be waterlogged or shortened. The new owners of the bankrupt coal mines will make a killing like all energy providers. Warmth becomes life, people in the north will migrate south of the border to protect and feed their children.
    I know, it sounds like a bad movie… The funny thing is it’s the type of stuff that the media people crave, unfortunately it’s not global warming. That means less women in bikinis. ;(
    On the good side though, the smaller countries that would be most harmed by global warming who are demanding billions of dollars in reparations can now be charged billions for us to warm the climate up by producing more carbon preventing an ice age :{)

  • LocalFluff

    I wouldn’t worry. The Sun changes on the time scale of mountain chains forming. It took seven years from the last peak to the last bottom. I bet the Sun will be just on time. Solar influence on the climate is a big deal though. Especially historically when the Earth has passed through regions of supernovas. And our electric civilization is more sensitive to Sun storms now than ever. It is a ticking clock, like asteroid impacts but probably very much more frequent. We need to deal with it, hopefully proactively instead of in the ashes of the ruins aftermthe fact.

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