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Sunspot update: A minor uptick in sunspot activity in April

It is that time of the month again. Yesterday NOAA posted its monthly update of its graph tracking the number of sunspots on the Sun’s Earth-facing hemisphere. As I have done now for every month since I began this website in 2010, I have posted this updated graph below, with several additional details to provide some larger context.

In April the number of sunspots on the Sun went up somewhat, the count rising to the highest level since the count hit its peak of activity last summer. The sunspot number in April, 136.5, was however still significantly less than the 2023 peak of 160. Thus it appears the Sun is likely still the middle saddle of a doubled-peaked relatively weak solar maximum, with the Sun doing what I predicted in February 2024:

If we are now in maximum, sunspot activity throughout the rest of 2024 should fluctuate at the level it is right now, with it suddenly rising again near the end of the year for a period lasting through the first half of 2025. After that it should begin its ramp down to solar minimum.

April 2024 sunspot activity
The graph above has been modified to show the predictions of the solar science community for the previous solar maximum. The green curves show the community’s two original predictions from April 2007 for the previous maximum, with half the scientists predicting a very strong maximum and half predicting a weak one. The blue curve is their revised May 2009 prediction. The red curve is the new prediction, first posted by NOAA in April 2020.

The rise in April however could just as well presage a change where that middle saddle disappears and the sunspot count rises upward to be closer to the prediction of a group of dissenting scientists, who in 2020 disagreed with 2020 prediction of a weak maximum by NOAA’s panel of scientists (the red curve), and instead predicted a very high maximum in 2025.

Not that those dissenters have a lock on the right prediction. Last summer those same dissenters pulled back on their own prediction, saying that they now expected the maximum to come one year early, in 2024, and that the maximum will not be as intense as they predicted, though still higher than NOAA’s prediction. The numbers so far in 2024 certainly don’t make that revision look so great.

I’ve said this repeatedly but it bears repeating again: No one understands the fundamentals within the Sun that cause this sunspot cycle. We know it occurs because of the flipping of polarity of the Sun’s magnetic field every eleven years, but why that field flips remains utterly unexplained.

This uncertainty with the Sun as always underlines our further lack of understanding of the Earth’s global climate. The Sun is without question the biggest factor in determining the temperature of the climate. Yet, we still do not how much its total brightness across all wavelengthes varies over the short and long term, or why. For example, orbital data in the past few decades suggests that the Sun’s total brightness is not constant and might fluctuate as much as ten times more than previously believed, depending on sunspot activity. The variation still appears small, far less than one percent, but significant nonetheless. That orbital data also suggests that in wavelengths outside the visible spectrum that variability can be much greater. For example, in ultraviolet the change from peak to trough could be as much as 50%.

The global warming activists who pose as climate scientists like to dismiss the Sun’s in their theories, claiming instead that human activity is the main cause of global warming. Yet, if we don’t understand the fluctuations in the Sun’s total irradiation and can’t predict those changes, how can we claim to understand and predict the long term fluctuations in the global climate?

The honest answer is we can’t. And the Sun this solar cycle keeps proving it.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

One comment

  • What an exciting time to be alive! And, coincidentally, I am a radio operator, and passionately interested in how the sunspot cycles affect radio. Thanks so much for these updates.

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