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Sunspot update: Activity in May continued to exceed predictions

Time for our monthly sunspot update. On June 1st NOAA updated its monthly graph showing the Sun’s sunspot activity through the end of May 2021. Below is that updated graph, annotated as always to show the previous solar cycle predictions.

As has happened now for almost every month since the Sun’s sunspot cycle began to increase following the long and deep minimum in 2019, the activity in June exceeded the numbers predicted by the computer models of NOAA’s panel of solar scientists. While the activity dipped slightly from April, it still was more active than predicted.

May 2021 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.

Though sunspot activity has been higher than the NOAA prediction, it is still somewhat low compared to many earlier solar maximums. If these numbers hold, we are not heading to a strong maximum, but one that is simply a bit more powerful that predicted. It also might end up shorter than predicted, though it is impossible to know that at this time.

And if that happens, it would mean that the Sun has repeated what it did around 1800 as well as 1900, undergoing two consecutive weak maximums before returning to the higher numbers seen during most other solar maximums.

Why the Sun does this remains unknown.

During those earlier weak maximums as well as the long Maunder Minimum lasting most of the 1600s, the Earth’s climate cooled. In the weak maximum of 2009 and 2019 the same thing occurred, the warming of the global climate seen from the 1940s to the 1990s coming to an end.

We do not know why this happens, or even if it linked to the Sun’s sunspot activity at all. What we do know is that the Sun’s solar cycle varies, and that variation appears to have an influence on the global climate on Earth.

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


  • BLSinSC

    I really appreciate these articles. I’m sure the “science party” will continue their heads in the sand position with denying that sunspot activity results in heat reaching our Earth!! It would be very interesting to see the sunspot activity along with corresponding earth temperature changes. How long is the “lag time” between periods of low activity and lower earth temps and vice versa??
    Thanks again for this public service – should be something that’s reported by the networks!

  • talgus

    more sunspots should equate to more coronal mass ejections, which certainly would disturb the envelope of gas that surrounds our planet and is the blanket of the warmists. holes in the blanket make it hotter?? just sayin

  • Edward

    talgus wrote: “more sunspots should equate to more coronal mass ejections, which certainly would disturb the envelope of gas that surrounds our planet and is the blanket of the warmists. holes in the blanket make it hotter?? just sayin

    There is a hypothesis that the same phenomenon responsible for sunspots also drives the strength of the solar magnetic field. Fewer sunspots may mean a weaker field, which would allow more cosmic rays to reach the Earth’s atmosphere, which seem to help seed cloud formation, which reflects heat away from the Earth, which slowly (decades timeframe) causes cooler temperatures. It seems like a bit of a Rube Goldberg chain reaction, and we don’t have a lot of supporting evidence that this happens, but there are correlations that keep the hypothesis alive. The more that we study the sun and see additional correlations, the more we will understand this hypothesis.

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