Solar Activity Near Low Maximum

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By Stephen Gode on December 7, 2012, 1:45pm Last modified: December 10, 2012, 4:31pm

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Currently, the ISES Solar Cycle Sunspot Number Progression graph (source NOAA) above shows the sun is about near a relatively low solar activity maximum.
The maximum is predicted to be around the beginning or toward the middle of the year 2013. Since the beginning of 2012, the rate of the number of sunspots has been decreasing. We have to see if the trend continues, but it is unlikely that the sunspot number will reach 90 based on the predicted values. Currently, the predicted values are too high and they are off by about 30, too.

The recent sunspot number minimum was not predicted well, too. The solar activity was extremely low and it lasted longer than expected. Between 2008 and 2009, there were hardly any sunspots on the sun, which has not happened for almost a century. In the past, the current peak for sunspots was supposed to be earlier and much higher than it is now.


During this fall, we have had some relatively potent geomagnetic storms especially for the high latitudes, but now the sun has quieted down (recent image of the sun above from NOAA). There are currently several weak sunspots on the Earthside of the sun, but none pose any threat for strong solar flares. NOAA forecasters forecast 1% or less for strong flares coming off of the sun each day during the next couple of days.  

If the trend continues, will we be going into a long-term overall minimum like past minimums shown in the above graph (source Wikipedia)? During times of depressed solar activity, the Earth tends to experience times of global cooling. There maybe the potential for that to occur in years ahead, but will it be modified by the rising CO­2 concentrations and other increased anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (along with many other factors)(NOAA graph first, below and second below, is from Pearson Education, Inc.)?



NOAA image with generally above normal global and hemispheric annual combined land-surface air temperature and SST anomalies between 1980 to 2006 based on the 1961-1990 mean:


Dr. Roy Spencer’s graph about data from NOAA satellites:

There is so much on-going research and controversial opinions on climate change (global cooling/global warming). The weather and climate goes under normal phases and varied extremes from a variety of factors, so it is tough to accurately predict what the future may hold. The solar activity fluctuations are just one of the many variables that have some affect on global temperature.

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Stephen Gode

Town: North Haven, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since September 2012.

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