Tag Archives: SWPC

The Sun goes bust

It is that time of the month again. Today NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center today released its monthly update of the ongoing solar cycle sunspot activity, covering January 2012. I have posted the graph below the fold.

For the second month in a row the Sun’s sunspot activity plunged. The drop in activity has been so steep that it has cancelled out almost two thirds of the activity rise that occurred during the last half of 2010. In fact, the drop brings the Sun’s sunspot count back to numbers comparable with March of last year, hardly a sign of a fast ramp up to solar maximum, which is what solar scientists have come to expect the Sun to do. Instead, the Sun’s activity during this ramp up has fluctuated wildly, going up strongly for several months and then dropping precipitously for another few months. These wild swings have now repeated themselves four times since the fall of 2010.
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The wimpy maximum continues

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


The Sun in April – Steady as she goes!

The monthly updated graph for April of the Sun’s solar cycle sunspot activity was posted yesterday by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. You can see it below.

Though the Sun remained active, you can see that the steep increase in sunspot activity that occurred in March has ceased. At the moment it looks as if the Sun’s sunspot activity is following the most recent scientific prediction, more or less exactly, though the small dip in April puts the numbers slightly below that prediction.

All in all, we still appear to be headed to the weakest solar maximum in two hundred years.

April Sunspot activity