Calm solar cycle prompts questions about impact on Earth

Nov 24, 2013 by Jean-Louis Santini
An image released on November 5, 2013, shows the sun brightening when an X-class solar flare —bursts from a large, active sunspot

The surface of the sun has been surprisingly calm of late—with fewer sunspots than anytime in in the last century—prompting curious scientists to wonder just what it might mean here on Earth.

Sunspots have been observed for millennia—first by Chinese astronomers and then, for the first time with a telescope, by Galileo in 1610.

The appear in roughly 11-year cycles—increasing to a daily flurry and then subsiding drastically, before amping up again.

But this cycle—dubbed cycle 24—has surprised scientists with its sluggishness.

The number of spots counted since it kicked off in December 2008 is well below the average observed over the last 250 years. In fact, it's less than half.

"It is the weakest cycle the sun has been in for all the space age, for 50 years," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association physicist Doug Biesecker told AFP.

The intense electromagnetic energy from sunspots has a significant impact on the sun's ultraviolet and X-ray emissions as well as on .

Solar storms can interrupt telecommunications and electronic networks on Earth. Sunspot activity can also have an impact on the Earth's climate.

Cycle 23 hit its maximum in April 2000 with an average of 120 solar spots a day. The cycle then wound down, hitting bottom around December 2008, the point at which scientists marked the start of the current cycle.

The minimal at the end of cycle 23 led astronomers to predict a slow cycle 24. But the reality fell even below expectations.

In the first year of the cycle, during which solar activity should have risen, astronomers counted 266 days without a single sun spot.

"The forecast peak was 90 sunspots," Biesecker said, noting that even though the activity has risen over the past year, "it's very clear it is not going to be close to 90."

"The sunspots number peaked last year at 67, almost half a typical cycle," he added.

The last time a sunspot cycle was this slow was in February 1906, the peak of cycle 14, with just 64 spots a day.

The "very long minimum: three years, three times more than the previous three cycles of the space age" was a major surprise, said University of Montana physicist Andres Munoz-Jamillio.

A magnetic switch

Cycle 24 has also diverged from the norm in another surprising way.

Typically, around the end of each 11-year , the sun's magnetic fields switch direction. The northern and southern hemispheres change polarity, usually simultaneously.

During the swap, the strength of the magnetic fields drops to near zero and reappears when the polarity is reversed, scientists explain.

But this time, something different seems to be happening. The north pole already reversed its polarity several months ago—and so it's now the same polarity as the south pole.

According to the most recent satellite measurements, "the south hemisphere should flip on the near future," said Todd Hoeksema, director of the Wilcox Solar Observatory at Stanford University.

He didn't seem concerned about the phenomenon.

But scientists are watching the sun carefully to see whether cycle 24 is going to be an aberration—or if this solar calmness is going to stretch through the next cycle as well.

"We won't know that for another good three or four years," said Biesecker.

Some researchers speculate this could be the start of a prolonged period of weak solar activity.

The last time that happened, during the so-called "Maunder Minimum" between 1650 and 1715, almost no sunspots were observed. During the same period, temperatures dropped sharply on Earth, sparking what is called the "Little Ice Age" in Europe and North America.

As the sunspot numbers continue to stay low, it's possible the Earth's climate is being affected again.

But thanks to global warming, we're unlikely to see another ice age. "Things have not started to cooling, they just have not risen as quickly," Biesecker said.

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User comments : 34

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Simca
Nov 24, 2013
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
verkle
1.6 / 5 (14) Nov 24, 2013
Mostly good logic and science until the last paragraph...
Doug_Huffman
1.7 / 5 (12) Nov 24, 2013
WOW, Watts Up With That .com?!
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (10) Nov 24, 2013
The end of the month approaches, and four working days into the new month NOAA/NWS Space Weather will post the new SC-24 Progression data. I so enjoy the headless chicken-littles squawking around the yard.

Then, about a week later, the more thoughtful commentary will spark-up. I particularly anticipate Leif Svalgaard's.

With US Thanksgiving approaching, perhaps the headless are turkeys. For 1000 days the farmer feeds his turkey, each feeding a datum in the turkey's Utopian confidence. On the 1001 day the turkey meets his Black Swan.
SamB
1.3 / 5 (12) Nov 24, 2013
Probably caused by Global Warming...
NikFromNYC
1.3 / 5 (16) Nov 24, 2013
It's adult reason versus the steampunk kids who love to anachronistically defend the gross and embarrassing historical revisionism of the pudgy Hockey Stick Team's gross erasure of the Little Ice Age mentioned in this article. It didn't exist, you see, dear doctor, as rascally Marcott 2013 demonstrafied with his discomfobulater:
http://s15.postim...2013.jpg

In a galaxy far, far, away...Hockey Stick Wars!

"These are not the input temperature proxies we are looking for."
http://s21.postim...xies.jpg

What's up doctor? What's up with that?!
http://tinypic.co...&s=5
thingumbobesquire
1.8 / 5 (13) Nov 24, 2013
"But thanks to global warming, we're unlikely to see another ice age" ...Hooray fossil fuels!
VINDOC
1.7 / 5 (18) Nov 24, 2013
Temperatures have been dropping for 16 years. The IPCC has manipulated the data for years. Weather the earth cools or warms is not in the hands of man, but in the hands of that big yellow ball we call the sun. If you doubt that, watch what happens when then sun really burps.
VendicarE
3.2 / 5 (9) Nov 24, 2013
"Temperatures have been dropping for 16 years." - BrainDeath

Then why does the data claim the exact opposite?

http://www.woodfo...rom:1998

"The IPCC has manipulated the data for years. " - BrainDeath

Quite impossible, since the IPCC doesn't collect or process climate data.

The IPCC produces an overview of the current scientific literature

Poor Brain Death. He doesn't know what the IPCC does, but he is dead sure that they are up to nothing good.

So he invents his own personal fiction as to what they do.

Mooooooooorrrrrrrrooooooooonnnnnnnnnnn...........

NikFromNYC
1.7 / 5 (17) Nov 25, 2013
Vendicar(E) pleads: "Then why does the data claim the exact opposite?"

BECAUSE IN 2012 PHIL "HIDE THE DECLINE" JONES BECAME PHIL "HIDE THE INCLINE" JONES OF A SAUDI UNIVERSITY, up-adjusting HadCRUT3 into HadCRUT4:
http://www.woodfo...98/trend

Saudi Prince Jones:
http://mpc.kau.ed...nes.aspx

CLIMATEGATE 101: "For your eyes only…Don't leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone….Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that." – Phil Jones to Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann
goracle
1.9 / 5 (13) Nov 25, 2013
Temperatures have been dropping for 16 years. The IPCC has manipulated the data for years. Weather the earth cools or warms is not in the hands of man, but in the hands of that big yellow ball we call the sun. If you doubt that, watch what happens when then sun really burps.

Blatant distortions of the report findings aside, why should anyone listen to someone who mistakes the word "weather" with the correct term 'whether'?
NikFromNYC
1.3 / 5 (13) Nov 25, 2013
goracle, a typo is embarrassing but you have no shame being a true clown in your own flippant profile, as you act as activist for what you *claim* to believe represents a seriously grave threat to the biosphere:

"Sub-Mattress Institute of Marxist Revolution / About yourself: I live in a huge mansion and make billions off of poor oppressed Randites while spewing gigatons of carbon as I try to save the world. Oh, and I'm an Evil Liberal out to corrupt your perfect 1950s world. Muahaha... / Research Interests: Why, spying on antigoracle, of course. (Psst! The walls have ears....) / Other Interests: Corrupting Libertarian children with socialist ways (for the few that reproduce through normal sexual means). / Contact Information: Goracle's Miracle Minute hotline 1-976-555-1212 PO Box 666 Burbank, CA 90210"

What do you think, goracle, of Gore receiving half a *billion* dollars from Arabia for his cable TV show? Of his mafia movie worthy six-fireplace seaside (!) palace? Of his jet ski equipped yacht?

Cool?!

Are you a douche bag, goracle?
NikFromNYC
1.3 / 5 (13) Nov 25, 2013
Oops! That was a typo, my spell checker changed douchebag to "couch bag" and I edited it back too hastily.

Q: Did I even used the word correctly?:

"An individual who has an over-inflated sense of self worth, compounded by a low level of intellegence, behaving ridiculously in front of colleagues with no sense of how moronic he appears."

"Douche bags have been known to add small numbers with calculators and call it "business math.""

douchebagery:

"The philosophy held by douchebags, holding that no one other than themselves (or perhaps their close associates) matters in the least bit, and thus that other human beings can and should be treated like complete excrement for little or no reason (and often for selfish reasons)."

A: Yep!
NikFromNYC
1.3 / 5 (12) Nov 25, 2013
Are you Vendicar(E), goracle? The "Muahaha..." In your profile mirrors his "Mooooooooorrrrrrrrooooooooonnnnnnnnnnn..........." in style and tone, I note, and you up-rate Vendicar(E) posts as you play tag team in the same threads, along with often a dozen sockpuppet ratings accounts that I see in profile Activity tabs.

-=NikFromNYC=-, Ph.D. in carbon chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)
VendicarE
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 25, 2013
"BECAUSE IN 2012 PHIL "HIDE THE DECLINE" JONES BECAME PHIL "HIDE THE INCLINE" JONES OF A SAUDI UNIVERSITY" - NikkieTard

Your claim was that two graphs of temperature, one increasing, and one decreasing showed the same trend.

Are you saying that someone you never met forced you to make the false claim?

Were you hearing voices in your head, TardieBoy?

Do they tell you what to do?

NikFromNYC
1.3 / 5 (12) Nov 25, 2013
Meet the face of Global Warming alarm, Goraclecar(E), competently providing the details of the "overwhelming evidence" that Al Gore and mainstream media talking heads to this day *claim* exists for us "climate deniers" (sic) to deny.

He might mention a recent debunking of a prominent skeptical hypothesis of a large solar magnetic activity influence on climate via cloud cover influence, associated with cosmic ray shielding, but that study also had to break the textbook greenhouse effect to do so. Oops!
http://tallbloke....-theory/
QuixoteJ
1 / 5 (9) Nov 26, 2013
Dear Jean-Louis Santini, writer of this article: you need to talk to your doctor about CRHD, or Carriage Return Hyperactivity disorder. There is a treatment for it called Basic Grammar.
triplehelix
2.1 / 5 (11) Nov 28, 2013
Many sunspots in the 90's - got warmer
A lot less sunspots in the 00's and 10's - more snow, harsher winters of late, and more storms.

I remember in 2001 newspapers saying snow wouldn't be known by the next generation. Since 2007 every winter I am covered in the stuff. The 90's had very warm winters, didn't even see sleet in UK in the 90's and early 00's, during heavy sunspot activity. Now the activity is declining we're cooling again.

Who'da thought a giant nuclear fusion reactor the size of 1,300,000 Earths becoming more active would heat us up, and a giant nuclear fusion reactor the size of 1,300,000 Earths becoming less active would cool us down.

Nah, it must be that gas that has gone from 330ppm to 390ppm, the same gas, that during the carbonferious period, being average of 3000ppm, had mass glaciation (Colder ;) ).

I mean you have to be literally retarded to think CO2 is the only cause.
rockwolf1000
3.4 / 5 (5) Nov 28, 2013
Many sunspots in the 90's - got warmer
A lot less sunspots in the 00's and 10's - more snow, harsher winters of late, and more storms.

I remember in 2001 newspapers saying snow wouldn't be known by the next generation. Since 2007 every winter I am covered in the stuff. The 90's had very warm winters, didn't even see sleet in UK in the 90's and early 00's, during heavy sunspot activity. Now the activity is declining we're cooling again.

Who'da thought a giant nuclear fusion reactor the size of 1,300,000 Earths becoming more active would heat us up, and a giant nuclear fusion reactor the size of 1,300,000 Earths becoming less active would cool us down.

Nah, it must be that gas that has gone from 330ppm to 390ppm, the same gas, that during the carbonferious period, being average of 3000ppm, had mass glaciation (Colder ;) ).

I mean you have to be literally retarded to think CO2 is the only cause.

Who said that?
goracle
2 / 5 (8) Nov 28, 2013
Many sunspots in the 90's - got warmer
A lot less sunspots in the 00's and 10's - more snow, harsher winters of late, and more storms.

I remember in 2001 newspapers saying snow wouldn't be known by the next generation. Since 2007 every winter I am covered in the stuff. The 90's had very warm winters, didn't even see sleet in UK in the 90's and early 00's, during heavy sunspot activity. Now the activity is declining we're cooling again.

Who'da thought a giant nuclear fusion reactor the size of 1,300,000 Earths becoming more active would heat us up, and a giant nuclear fusion reactor the size of 1,300,000 Earths becoming less active would cool us down.

Nah, it must be that gas that has gone from 330ppm to 390ppm, the same gas, that during the carbonferious period, being average of 3000ppm, had mass glaciation (Colder ;) ).

I mean you have to be literally retarded to think CO2 is the only cause.

Who said that?

The voices in his head?
goracle
2 / 5 (8) Nov 28, 2013
"1 / 5 (8) Nov 25, 2013
Meet the face of Global Warming alarm, Goraclecar(E), competently providing the details of the "overwhelming evidence" that Al Gore and mainstream media talking heads to this day *claim* exists for us "climate deniers" (sic) to deny."

Etc., etc. ad nauseum.

Nik, I applaud your zeal. It takes a lot of determined effort to earn a specific mention in the DSM, but I think you may have what it takes.
runrig
3 / 5 (4) Nov 28, 2013
… the same gas, that during the carbonferious period, being average of 3000ppm, had mass glaciation….


Err – the Carboniferous was 360-300 mya - there was still Godwanaland!

The Sun was dimmer….
"Overall, the solar constant has increased since the creation of the solar system (about 4.7 billion years ago). The initial value was about 70% of what it is now. During the Carboniferous period (about 300 million years ago) it was about 2.5% less than the value today"
http://everything...constant

What was the volcanic activity? (aerosol emission giving high albedo)
Also was CO2 really @ 3000ppm? – this study indicates ~300ppm
http://www.pnas.o...567.full

You cannot equate past climates with different albedo and different continental configuration to today.

triplehelix
1 / 5 (9) Nov 28, 2013
snip

Who said that?


I don't remember my comment mentioning people saying anything other than no more snow back at turn of the century, newspapers in fact.

Oh look

http://www.indepe...017.html

So no, goracle, it is not the voices in my head.
triplehelix
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 28, 2013


You cannot equate past climates with different albedo and different continental configuration to today.



If that is the case, then why are you comparing past temperatures using ice core data and then saying we have a problem with our climate?

You fell right into my little trap.

Your comment admitted most variables back then made climate vastly different. So again, I ask, how can you state AGW is real, when you have just admitted you cant compare the past because it was massively varied.

See this is the issue, I am using your same argument, but because I have used it to show how bad climate science really is, you won't accept it, yet the same logic and argument, if used on your side of the coin, is acceptable.

IPCC and AGW theory state, clearly, CO2 as the MAIN contributor to global warming. Yet now you say back then, other variables has much stronger effects. So which one is it? You climate whacks want your cake and to eat it. That's not how science works.
triplehelix
1.4 / 5 (10) Nov 28, 2013
Everyday we see al gores inconvenient truth graph going back hundreds of millions of years and how CO2 and temperature correlate perfectly (They don't) and you're here saying you can't compare the past climate due to extraneous variables.

I have stated on Physorg before about how climate science has too many extraneous variables and get laughed at saying their aren't any. Bullshit. 1 Planet, no control data, no variable weighting capabilities due to inability to isolate and measure individual variables, and making comparisons of million year old ice cores to todays climate is okay when it "proves" AGW but not okay when it disproves AGW?

RELIGION!
VendicarE
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 28, 2013
"A lot less sunspots in the 00's and 10's - more snow, harsher winters of late, and more storms." - TripleTard

Sun & climate: moving in opposite directions

http://www.skepti...asic.gif

http://www.skepti...emps.jpg

Poor TripleTard. In another thread he claimed that he is a scientist and that the world was rapidly cooling.

He is only a scientist in his fantasy life on his fantasy planet of Conservadopia.

http://www.woodfo...rom:1990
VendicarE
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 28, 2013
"Everyday we see al gores inconvenient truth graph going back hundreds of millions of years and how CO2 and temperature correlate perfectly" - TripleTard

http://geology.ro...core.jpg

Looks like Gore's graph come straight from the scientific literature.

Your lying denialist dung comes straight from your backside.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (7) Nov 28, 2013
climate science has too many extraneous variables

And the two satellites, TRUTHS and CLARREO, proposed to collect traceable radiometric data have yet to be built and launched.
Wonder why if there is so much govt money to throw away on Solyndra and wind subsidies?
VendicarE
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 28, 2013
TRUTHS and CLARREO, proposed to collect traceable radiometric data have yet to be built and launched.

CLARREO has pre-phase A funding from NASA, which means that it is still in the pre-design stage.

TardieBoy asks why a satellite that isn't designed yet hasn't been launched.

Idiot.
triplehelix
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 29, 2013
"A lot less sunspots in the 00's and 10's - more snow, harsher winters of late, and more storms." - TripleTard

Sun & climate: moving in opposite directions

http://www.skepti...asic.gif


I never said rapidly cooling. you're blatantly just trolling me. I said a stable and gradual decline in temperatures since 1998.

I am a genuine scientist, which is why I find the mathematics of climate science hilarious.

You don't (can't!) isolate any variables. You have 1 planet, all variables affecting at the same time, and guess.

You just use the last couple of decades to extrapolate basically. Which isn't science. Depending where you extrapolate, we're going to be encased in ice, or bathed in fire. You can't just look at a trend for a couple of decades and exclaim divine knowledge in its entirity when we're still learning this science. It is a baby science. It has a lot of work to go before it becomes much more established.
triplehelix
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 29, 2013
"Everyday we see al gores inconvenient truth graph going back hundreds of millions of years and how CO2 and temperature correlate perfectly" - TripleTard

http://geology.ro...core.jpg

Looks like Gore's graph come straight from the scientific literature.

Your lying denialist dung comes straight from your backside.


I never questioned whether it came from scientific literature. You blatantly didn't even read my comment. Runrig stated the sun was only 70% as strong as it is today, meaning many millions of years ago - the climate was naturally cooler, because of a dim sun. I agree with him.

HOWEVER,why is it okay for climate scientists to make graphs going back millions of years and showing an increase now (until 1998) and state that CO2 is the issue. No mention of the fact that back then, it was naturally cooler, and we're going to go upwards for many more years just by sun output. When it benefits you,its fine, but not viceversa
runrig
3 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2013
if that is the case, then why are you comparing past temperatures using ice core data and then saying we have a problem with our climate?

You fell right into my little trap.

Your comment admitted most variables back then made climate vastly different. So again, I ask, how can you state AGW is real, when you have just admitted you cant compare the past because it was massively varied.


We are not comparing them – we are researching them to discover what operated then and to develop theory/modelling. We know the Sun's large scale variation in insolation in the high NH (due Earth's orbital eccentricities) triggered major changes in build up/melt of ice and we know that CO2 increased/decreased thereafter (into/out of oceans largely), so accelerating warming/cooling. We know that volcanism made changes, that sea-ice extent, especially around Greenland, did. None of these things are operating today or during the last 150 years.
runrig
3 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2013
Everyday we see al gores inconvenient truth graph going back hundreds of millions of years and how CO2 and temperature correlate perfectly (They don't) and you're here saying you can't compare the past climate due to extraneous variables.


"They don't" … err they do – uncannily so (with a lag due to thermal inertial/circulation of oceans).
http://www.ncdc.n...nge.html

I actually said (quote)…
"You cannot equate past climates with different albedo and different continental configuration to today.

OK ? See the difference?
triplehelix
1 / 5 (4) Nov 29, 2013
Everyday we see al gores inconvenient truth graph going back hundreds of millions of years and how CO2 and temperature correlate perfectly (They don't) and you're here saying you can't compare the past climate due to extraneous variables.


"They don't" … err they do – uncannily so (with a lag due to thermal inertial/circulation of oceans).
http://www.ncdc.n...nge.html

I actually said (quote)…
"You cannot equate past climates with different albedo and different continental configuration to today.

OK ? See the difference?


I genuinely don't see the difference.
Maggnus
1 / 5 (1) Nov 29, 2013
Holy cow triple, I can't get over the number of very basic misunderstandings you have about climate, climate science, and science in general. You most assuredly do not seem to be a scientist. Tell me, what do you study?