It is the beginning of September and time to post another update on the Sun’s ongoing solar cycle. Below is NOAA’s monthly graph tracking the number of sunspots on the Sun’s Earth-facing hemisphere, with the activity in August now added. I have also added some additional details to the graph to give the numbers a larger context.
Though sunspot activity dropped in August it remained significantly above the predictions of the panel of government solar scientists put together by NOAA. The predicted sunspot number for August, as indicated by the red curve, was supposed to be about 48. The actual number was 75.
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.
There were once again no blank days in August, so that the total of blank days in 2022 remains a just one.
The trend however in the past few months suggests the possibility that the ramp up to higher activity might have stalled. For most of ’21 and ’22, the number of sunspots had increased monthly at a steady and fast rate. Since May that rate of increase has stabilized.
This speculation however means little. The stall in the last four months could simply be a random fluctuation, to be followed in the next few months with a new ramp up of activity. Or not. When it comes to the Sun and our general lack of understanding as to why it has this eleven year solar cycle, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Nonetheless, the generally high numbers, well above the consensus prediction of the solar science community, still suggests the coming maximum will be very strong. If so, it will be very interesting to see how the Earth’s climate shifts under these conditions. Past strong maximums routinely aligned with warmer temperatures on Earth.
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Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space
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