Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Sunspots are Coming! The Sunspots are Coming?

This colorful image is not an aboriginal prayer rug, but plenty of folks at NASA are "praying" it is evidence long-delayed Solar Cycle #24 has started or is about to start. As I reported last month in An "Inconvenient" Minimum and back in January in Where Have All the Sunspots Gone?, NASA previously predicted SC#24 would start late 2006 or early 2007. It is at least two years late.

No one can tell if the old cycle has ended until the new cycle has built up some steam over about a six month period. Well, the above Sunspot Prayer Rug may provide new evidence they may be able to declare SC#24 actually started last December or January.


The vertical axis is latitudes on the Sun, with the Sun's equator at the middle. The horizontal axis is years, from mid-1994 to the present. The red-yellow bands represent solar jet streams, thousands of miles below the surface of the Sun.

The vertical blue line at the left indicates when SC#22 ended and SC#23 started. Note that the start of a solar cycle is marked by a jet stream that initiates at about 45º North and South latitudes and spreads up and down as the years go by. SC#23 began in 1997 when the jet stream from SC#22 got down to what they call the "critical latitude" of 22º. NASA is excited that the jet stream from SC#23 is now down to about that critical latitude! That, they say, could (finally) mark the start of (long-awaited) SC#24.


Well, they could be correct - or not. The black contours on the Sunspot Prayer Rug represent sunspot activity. Note that the black contours representing SC#22 end in 1997. Nearly simultaneously, new black contours representing SC#23 sunspots begin in the mid-latitudes.

A possible problem with the NASA interpretation is that the SC#23 sunspots end in mid-2008, but the SC#24 sunspots have not cranked up yet, a year later. This is very different from the transition between SC#22 and SC#24 when the new cycle started in earnest immediately after the old cycle ended. Why is this transition so different from the previous one? Could the year-long sunspot pause indicate a more fundamental change in the Sun's internal, natural cycle behavior? Perhaps the idea that a new cycle will begin when the jet stream gets to 22º latitude does not apply in the current and very different situation?


A few weeks ago, I added a new feature to this Blog where you can watch the day-to-day development of the next sunspot cycle. Have a look in the right-hand column, just below the Dilbert comic for a NASA-supplied image of the Sun. That image will change daily and allow you to help NASA look for sunspots.


As described in a previous posting on this Blog, there is an historical connection between periods of low sunspot activity and cooling trends. If the start of SC#24 is further delayed, it is likely it will peak later and at a lower level than originally expected. If we are lucky enough to get a series of weak sunspot cycles, that may provide decades of cooling that may counteract the estimated 0.5ºC actual warming our Earth has experienced over the past 150 years.

Although CO2 levels continue to increase at a rapid pace, it appears the Global Warming trend has abated, or perhaps reversed a bit, over the past ten years. A bit of Global Cooling will give us breathing room to correct our excessive release of previously-sequestered carbon (coal, oil, gas) into the atmosphere. Right now, the politicos are hell-bent on imposing the Cap & Trade Scam that will further destroy our economy and not reduce Global Warming very much. Let's hope they will reject that approach and work on something more conservative that will actually work, such as the Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax .

Ira Glickstein


Ira Glickstein said...

Hey - some sunspots appeared today! (See the dots on the daily NASA image of the Sun that appears just below the Dilbert comic). Look quick, they may disappear soon.

If they increase in strength over the next month or so, that will tell us that the nearly two-year delayed solar cycle #24 has indeed started.

Let me take this opportunity to share my response to the Paul Krugman Opinion Piece "Betraying the Planet" that Stu brought to my attention via email today:

This is old news. Yes, the alarmists are *predicting* that things will be worse than they *predicted* before, but, there is no evidence their previous *predictions* have panned out. They have been incredibly wrong in the past, which is evidence they may be mistaken now about *predictions* for the future.

Indeed, according to NASA's own data: 1) There has been no net global warming for the past decade (see official NASA GISS graph of Monthly Mean Sea Surface Temperature for the past two decades at NASA GISS. 2) Arctic sea ice extent has increased since 2007 (see the latest data at NSIDC supported by NASA. 3) The coming sunspot cycle #24 will be half as strong as they predicted in 2006 (the official NASA 2006 prediction is at NASA and their revised, lower -and about two-year delayed start- is at NASA NOAA. 4) A late-starting, lower strength sunspot cycle is likely to usher in a few decades of stable temperatures and perhaps a bit of global cooling according to historical data see NASA MSFC.

You can check the data yourself by clicking the links above. They all go to OFFICIAL NASA websites.

Yes, CO2 continues to increase at a rapid pace, and, as a conservative I want us to take action. I favor a revenue neutral Carbon Tax (see TVPClub Blog) that is also favored by NASA's chief alarmist James Hansen and (pardon the expression) Ralph Nader, as well as conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, the Wall Street Journal, the (UK) Economist, and a diverse group of others, including alarmists, luke-warmers, and realists like me. We all agree the Cap and Trade bill is a total scam that will not do much to limit CO2 and is designed to increase the influence of politically-connected corporations.

You don't need to be a "rocket scientist" to understand that if CO2 continues to increase at a high rate, and surface temperatures measured by ground stations, satellites, and extent of sea ice, etc. has not increased lately, there must be something wrong with the official IPCC climate models that tell us that human CO2 is responsible for the majority of global warming. If CO2 contributes over 50% to global warming and CO2 continues to rise rapidly, why has global warming stopped for a decade?

Yes, human-generated CO2 from fossil fuels is a problem that must be addressed. However, it has not and does not contribute more than perhaps 10% to the global warming of about 0.5 oC we have experienced in the past 150 years or so.. We are not anywhere near any kind of "tipping point". Most global warming is clearly NOT due to CO2. It is therefore due to natural cycles, particularly the Sun, the effect of solar activity on galactic cosmic rays that affect cloud formation on Earth see WUWT, and oscillations of ocean currents.

Krugman is so misinformed it is pathetic!

Ira Glickstein

Ira Glickstein said...

The sunspots are GOING! If you've been watching the daily updates of the sunspots (under the Dilbert comic in the right-hand column) you noticed them appear near the lower left and move towards the right. They are now far to the right and will soon pass out of sight.

It will be interesting to see how long NASA will have to wait for more cycle #24 sunspots. Please help NASA by looking at the image updated daily to see new spots.

Ira Glickstein

Ira Glickstein said...

We have Sunspots! Check the image in the right-hand column just below Dilbert.

Is this the real start of Solar cycle #24 (delayed over two years from NASA prediction) or another isolated spike? Since I posted "The Sunspots are Coming?" back in June, we've had a few spikes, but no significant ramp up in Sunspots.

Time will tell.

Why do YOU care? Well, if the delay continues and SC#24 is very weak, we may get some Global Cooling to counteract the Global Warming trend that got Al Gore so animated. Global temperatures seem to have have stabilized around a decade ago. If we get some significant cooling (say -0.1 or -0.2 degrees C) over the next decade, that will be evidence that natural cycles of the Sun are more powerful than human-caused CO2 in changing the climate.

Ira Glickstein