Hinode: Solar magnetic field reversing early and abnormally, implies solar maximum

Posted: May 4, 2012 by tchannon in Solar physics

Image

The focus here is the sun observing Hinode (Solar-B) which carries 3 solar telescopes. (brief details), perhaps surprisingly in earth polar orbit Imageyet this is sufficient for a permanent view of the sun except for occassional solar eclipse by the earth. A space based solar telescope removes the very serious problems caused by the earth’s atmosphere when attempting to measure the solar polar field strength, as has been discussed on the Talkshop from time to time.

This is one of the major reasons for the severe noise exhibited by the Wilcox observatory data as shown here.

Hinode evidence of North pole reversing now

Image

Figure B, North pole showing reversal in progress, left 2008, right 2011

Image

Figure C, South pole, no sign of change.

Michele Casati posted a link on the suggestions page to a press release by Hinode Science Center/NAOJ dated 19th April 2012 they state

” We here report the discovery that the average magnetic flux of the north polar region is rapidly and steadily decreasing during the period of 2008 and 2012 (Figure B). The reversal (from minus to plus polarity) is taking place in sequence from lower latitude to higher latitude. The average magnetic flux of the polar region soon becomes zero. The estimated completion of the reversal of the north polar region will take place in 1 months or so, about one year earlier than the nominal expected reversal time.

In striking contrast to the north polar situation, the magnetic flux of the south polar region has been very stable, and maintains the plus polarity (Figure C). These latest Hinode observations suggest that the global magnetic field of the Sun will become different from the normal bipolar configuration.”

Image

Figure 1

If this is true it makes the wobble shown in the Wilcox data, figure 1 more significant.

I recall coming across a paper which suggests the sun was unipolar during the maunder minimum. They had unearthed previously unknown drawings of the sun showing there were sunspots, it was not as quiet as the usual historic record says.

[UPDATE] PDF search found one of the papers on disk, been mentioned previously on the Talkshop. Available free access from Wiley online, Astronomical Notes

“Secular variation of hemispheric phase differences in the solar cycle” onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/asna.201011410/abstract

User contributed links

By adolfo
THE START OF THE DALTON MINIMUM: WAS ONE SUNSPOT CYCLE LOST IN LATE XVIII CENTURY?

By Gerry,
INCREASE OF THE MAGNETIC FLUX FROM POLAR ZONES OF THE
SUN IN THE LAST 120 YEARS

[/UPDATE]
[UPSDATE2]

http://wso.stanford.edu/
[/UPDATE]
I am trying to find the paper again, meanwhile here are some related items.

Solar Rotation in the 17–th century
A solar cycle lost in 1793–1800: Early sunspot observations resolve the old mystery
REVISITED SUNSPOT DATA: A NEW SCENARIO FOR THE ONSET OF THE MAUNDER MINIMUM


Posted by Tim Channon, co-moderator

Comments
  1. Bart Leplae says:

    In my paper “Variations of the Sun Velocity correlate in various ways with the Solar Cycles”
    http://www.gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Essays/View/3647 ,I included a correlation between the variations of the velocity of the Sun and the polar magnetic field of the Sun. This includes a graph showing the Sun acceleration superposed upon the Figure 1 above.

    I concluded my paper with:

    “The Sun will reach minimum velocity and will start to accelerate as of the beginning of 2012.
    According to the described correlations:
    – The Polar Magnetic fields will reverse
    – The current solar sunspot cycle will stop to increase
    – The solar sunspot cycle will exhibit a ‘flat top’ prior to decreasing”

    These last two points start to manifest themselves as well:

    http://www.sidc.be/sunspot-index-graphics/sidc_graphics.php

  2. adolfogiurfa says:

    If not the cycle….we are lost :-) . Interesting times indeed. Time to remember TB´s regular M.Vukcevic equation:

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/LFC2.htm

  3. grizzlygovfan says:

    How does this fit into the prediction by Dr. Abdussamatov that we will have a Little Ice Age onset about 2014? How about the prediction a few years back by Professor Vladimir Paar, that within 5 years we would see the onset of a 70,000 year glaciation cycle?

  4. Bart Leplae says:

    A solar cycle lost in 1793–1800: Early sunspot observations resolve the old mystery:

    “The sudden, systematic occurrence of sunspots at high solar latitudes in 1793–1796 unambiguously shows that a new cycle started in 1793″

    Around 1793, the Sun was at a minimum velocity (and started to accelerate): correlating with effects described as the ‘lost solar cycle’)
    In 1802, the Sun was at a maxium velocity (and started to decelare): correlating with the solar sunspot cycle showing flat top, starting the Dalton minimum)

  5. Gerry says:

    Bart,
    I read your paper,

    http://www.gsjournal.net/Science-Journals/Research%20Papers-Astrophysics/Download/3647,

    with great interest.

    SC24 does appear to have a very extended flat top at maximum and an unusually low amplitude. There is a very large hemispheric phase difference as well.

    Are you able to deduce a likely time of reversal of the Sun’s magnetic poles from the available data, including solar acceleration data? If so, approximately when do you think this will happen?

  6. tchannon says:

    grizzly,
    I think the latter is very unlikely without other signs such as orbital change. We are supposed to be gradually descending from a peak sometime well before 0AD.

    The former, doesn’t disagree with ideas the sun is linked to minor cold and something like this might have been a precursor ~1600, ~1800. That dang 200 year thing.

    Seems to me to be a popcorn time.

  7. adolfogiurfa says:

    @Tchannon: Hope we have enough heat to make popcorn. :-)

  8. Good sunspot, electromagnetic activity
    Ar 1476, is rotating earth facing.
    Now, flare M1.4 look X-ray.

    Bye,
    mic

  9. Gerry says:

    Tim,

    Re
    “I recall coming across a paper which suggests the sun was unipolar during the maunder minimum.”

    I wonder if this 2001 (!) paper is the one you were looking for?

    http://helios.izmiran.ru/hellab/Obridko/77381570.pdf

    p.384:
    “In the present paper we discuss long-time variations of the area of polar zones of
    the Sun Apz, occupied by unipolar magnetic field, in connection with the evolution
    of the geomagnetic aa index during 1878–2000. The origin of the secular variation
    of the solar magnetic flux is the main goal. We shall touch upon the question how the Sun enters and leaves the Maunder Minimum.”

    p.397:
    “A new index of polar activity of the Sun Apz (area of polar cap occupied
    by a unipolar fields) has been compared with the aa, W and A .-index. We used
    the correlations between aa and Apz to estimate the limit latitude of the highlatitude
    zone boundary…to be about 60 deg. Its minimum is < 38 deg, the present
    value. We suggest that [this] practically coincides with the conical blades…
    and thus that these conical blades have a similar oscillatory motion between say
    60 deg. and < 38 deg. It is supposed that deep minima of solar activity may occur when
    these conical blades reach extreme latitudes. This may be an indication that we are
    approaching a new deep minimum.

  10. tchannon says:

    Added an update with a link to one of the papers I was trying to recall.

  11. Gerry says:

    Tim,
    I see no discussion of unipolar magnetic fields in your update. However, this is discussed in

    http://helios.izmiran.ru/hellab/Obridko/77381570.pdf

    p.384:
    “In the present paper we discuss long-time variations of the area of polar zones of
    the Sun Apz, occupied by unipolar magnetic field, in connection with the evolution
    of the geomagnetic aa index during 1878–2000. The origin of the secular variation
    of the solar magnetic flux is the main goal. We shall touch upon the question how the Sun enters and leaves the Maunder Minimum.”

    p.397:
    “A new index of polar activity of the Sun Apz (area of polar cap occupied
    by a unipolar fields) has been compared with the aa, W and A .-index. We used
    the correlations between aa and Apz to estimate the limit latitude of the highlatitude
    zone boundary…to be about 60 deg. Its minimum is < 38 deg, the present
    value. We suggest that [this] practically coincides with the conical blades…
    and thus that these conical blades have a similar oscillatory motion between say
    60 deg. and < 38 deg. It is supposed that deep minima of solar activity may occur when
    these conical blades reach extreme latitudes. This may be an indication that we are
    approaching a new deep minimum

    [ Added link to the post –Tim]

  12. Gerry says:

    Tim,

    OK. Now I see the relevant update.

  13. tallbloke says:

    Gerry, just rescued your comment from the spam folder. Apologies. It seems wordpress are having ‘issues’ again. I’m having similar problems at the moment posting on other wordpress blogs.

  14. Gerry says:

    Rog,

    And my apologies for trying to post duplicate comments. Never the right thing to do.

    [ I’ve zapped the first one. –Tim]

  15. Edim says:

    If this solar cycle really is long (should be even longer than sc 23), we still have some distance to go, before the decline in ssn. My prediction is not before 2014/15 (start of the decline). The exact timing of the solar max is of course somewhat arbitrary?

    [video src="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Evolution_of_Magnetism_on_the_Sun.ogv" /]

  16. Gerry says:

    Edim,

    SC23 had two smoothed SSN peaks, but the first one (April 2000) was higher and therefore is the official one:

    http://www.solen.info/solar/solcycle.html.

    Note also that this agrees well with the last polar magnetic reversal time:

    http://www.solen.info/solar/polarfields/polar.html.

    The south magnetic pole changed polarity about four months earlier than the north pole in the last reversal.

    While I see no precise indication of when the next reversal will occur, most solar experts appear to expect the smoothed SC24 maximum, and associated reversal, to be in the first half of 2013. That means SC24 peak will probably be ~13 years from SC23 peak.

    On the other hand, few would deny that the Sun is behaving somewhat strangely now, so all bets could be off, and a “phase catastrophe” could be on the horizon.

  17. Edim says:

    Gerry, yes. The exact timing of the peak depends on the smoothing period too. SC23 didn’t really start declining before 2001/02. IMO, SC24 will not start declining before ~2014/15. The sunspot maximum could occur a year after the polar field reversal, maybe even later. Like I said, it’s all a bit arbitrary.

  18. tchannon says:

    Added another update, Wilcox current sheet plot vs. SSN

  19. Brian H says:

    Bart Leplae says:
    May 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    – The current solar sunspot cycle will stop to increase

    Bart, just an English usage hint; French speakers often use this construction with an infinitive. But in English it is almost incoherent; if anything, it might mean “will stop in order to increase”, which is the opposite of your intention, because “stop” is an action in and of itself.

    Use the gerund with stop to designate any ongoing process. I.e., “will stop increasing”.

    But there’s a subtlety; you CAN use the verb “cease” instead of “stop”, in the way you are used to. “will cease to increase” is a bit awkward, but does convey what you want; “cease”, unlike “stop”, is not an action without reference to some other verb. However, “cease increasing” is still clearer.
    ______

    I guess we’re starting to explore new territory here; what does “peak” mean? What is the importance of peaks, and what would a plateau portend?

    Ain’t we got fun with the Sun? ;)

  20. Tenuc says:

    Found this article interesting, as solar scientists start to try and get a grip on where solar theory is going…

    “Sun Cycle 24″ –A Major Decline in Solar Activity Ahead
    …Richard Altrock, manager of the Air Force’s coronal research program at NSO’s Sunspot, NM, facilities has observed a slowing of the “rush to the poles,” the rapid poleward march of magnetic activity observed in the Sun’s faint corona. Altrock used four decades of observations with NSO’s 40-cm (16-inch) coronagraphic telescope at Sunspot.

    “A key thing to understand is that those wonderful, delicate coronal features are actually powerful, robust magnetic structures rooted in the interior of the Sun,” Altrock explained. “Changes we see in the corona reflect changes deep inside the Sun.”

    Altrock used a photometer to map iron heated to 2 million degrees C (3.6 million F). Stripped of half of its electrons, it is easily concentrated by magnetism rising from the Sun. In a well-known pattern, new solar activity emerges first at about 70 degrees latitude at the start of a cycle, then towards the equator as the cycle ages. At the same time, the new magnetic fields push remnants of the older cycle as far as 85 degrees poleward.

    “In cycles 21 through 23, solar maximum occurred when this rush appeared at an average latitude of 76 degrees,” Altrock said. “Cycle 24 started out late and slow and may not be strong enough to create a rush to the poles, indicating we’ll see a very weak solar maximum in 2013, if at all. If the rush to the poles fails to complete, this creates a tremendous dilemma for the theorists, as it would mean that Cycle 23’s magnetic field will not completely disappear from the polar regions (the rush to the poles accomplishes this feat). No one knows what the Sun will do in that case.”

    Full article here…

    http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2011/06/-sun-cycle-24-a-major-decline-in-solar-activity-ahead.html

    Perhaps the potential imminent solar cycle magnetic ‘phase catastrophe’ will cause changes to levels of solar energy production, as indicated by the poorly observed Maunder Minimum?

    [ Readers will find an article and image here
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/iron-line-to-the-pole/ –Tim]

  21. Gerry says:

    Altrock’s May 1, 2012 update:
    Abstract
    Use of Coronal Fe XIV Observations to Predict Solar]Cycle
    Activity Richard Altrock
    Abstract: The onset of the “Rush to the Poles” of polar crown prominences and
    their associated coronal emission is a harbinger of solar maximum. Altrock
    (2003, Solar Phys. 216, 343) showed that the “Rush” was well-observed in the
    the Fe XIV corona at the Sacramento Peak site of the National Solar Observatory
    prior to the maxima of Cycles 21 to 23. He found that solar maximum in those
    cycles occurred when the center
    line of the Rush reached a critical latitude. These latitudes were 76‹, 74‹ and 78‹,
    respectively, for an average of 76‹ } 2‹. Furthermore, in the previous three cycles
    solar maximum occurred when the number of Fe XIV emission regions per day >
    0.19 (averaged over 365 days and both hemispheres) first reached latitudes 18‹,
    21‹ and 21‹, for an average of 20‹ } 1.7o (somewhat higher than the mean
    latitude of sunspot area at solar maximum, 14‹). Applying the above conclusions
    to Cycle 24 is difficult due to the unusual nature of this cycle. Cycle 24 displays
    an intermittent “Rush” that is only definable in the northern hemisphere. In 2009
    an initial slope of 4.6‹/yr was found, compared to an average of 9.4 } 1.7 ‹/yr in
    the previous cycles. However, in 2010 the slope increased to 7.5‹/yr (an increase
    did not occur in the previous three cycles). Extending that rate to 76‹ } 2‹
    indicates that the solar maximum smoothed sunspot
    number in the northern hemisphere ALREADY OCCURRED at 2011.6 } 0.3.
    Unfortunately, the smoothed sunspot number uses 12-month running means,
    so the result may not be testable for several more months. Solar maximum may
    not be detectable in the southern hemisphere. In 1999, persistent Fe XIV coronal
    emission known as the “Extended Solar Cycle” (ESC) appeared near 70‹ and
    began migrating towards the equator at a rate 40% slower than the previous two
    solar cycles until a sudden surge to lower latitudes began. Currently the greatest
    number of emission regions is at 24‹. This indicates that solar maximum is
    imminent. However, due to the irregular progression of this cycle, making a
    precise prediction is difficult.

    This and other abstracts for the April 30—May 4, 2012 Sunspot, New Mexico, Solar Origins
    of Space Weather and Space Climate:
    26th International NSO/Sac Peak Workshop
    are in

    http://www.nso.edu/sites/www.nso.edu/files/files/workshops/2012/WS26-AbstractBooklet.pdf

  22. Gerry says:

    Two other interesting papers presented at the 26th International NSO/Sac Peak Workshop

    An Early Prediction for the Amplitude of the Solar Cycle 25
    Javaraiah Javaraiah
    Abstract: Many attempts have been made to predict the amplitude of a new
    sunspot cycle by using old cycles’ data with a belief that solar magnetic field
    persists for a quite some time. The magnetic fields at different latitudes during
    different time-intervals of a cycle might contribute (/related) to the activity at the
    same or different latitudes during its following cycle(s). With this hypothesis,
    earlier (Javaraiah, MNRAS 377, L34 (2007); Solar Phys. 252, 419(2008)), we
    have analyzed the the combined Greenwich and Solar Optical Observing
    Network sunspot group data during the period 1874-2006 and found that: (1)
    the sum of the areas of the sunspot groups in 0-10 degree latitude interval of
    the Sun’s northern hemisphere and in the time-interval of -1.35 year to +2.15
    year from the time of the preceding minimum of a solar cycle n, and also the
    corresponding north-south deference, correlate well with the amplitude
    (maximum of the smoothed monthly sunspot number) of the next cycle n+1. (2)
    The sum of the areas of the spot groups in 0-10 degree latitude interval of the
    southern hemisphere but in the time-interval of 1.0 year to 1.75 year just after the
    time of the maximum of the cycle n correlate very well with the amplitude of
    cycle n+1.Using `(1)’ and `(2)’ it is possible to predict the amplitude of a cycle
    by about 13 and 9 years in advance, respectively. We have predicted the
    following values for the amplitude of the current solar cycle, 24: ‘103’, ’74’, and
    ’87’, using ‘(1)’, ‘(2)’ and their combination, respectively. Now the spot group
    data are also vailable for the recent five years and the epoch of the preceding
    minimum of Cycle 24 is known. Hence, by using the relation `(1)’ it enabled us to
    make a prediction for the amplitude of the next solar cycle, 25, well in advance.
    We find that Cycle 25 will be an another weak cycle (weakest after Cycle 16)
    with amplitude 84 plus or minus 10, which is by about 16% lower than the value
    that was predicted for the amplitude of Cycle 24 by using `(1)’ and by about
    45% lower than the observed amplitude of Cycle 23. This also indicates that the
    upcoming minimum of the current Gleissberg cycle will take place in Cycle 25.
    We also find that the strength of the approximate 44-year periodicity in the northsouth
    asymmetry of sunspot activity is latitude dependent.

    and

    Calibration of a century of polar field measurements and what this tells us
    about the long]term variability of the solar and heliospheric magnetic field
    Andres Munoz]Jaramillo, Neil R. Sheeley, Jr., Jie Zhang, Edward E. DeLuca
    Abstract: In addition to the well-known 11-year periodicity, the solar cycle also presents long-term
    modulations of its amplitude and period which play a determinant role in the evolution of space
    weather and climate. To this date, the efforts at understanding long-term solar variability have
    focused on the active parts of the cycle using sunspot properties as their main source of data.
    However, the recent extend minimum of sunspot cycle 23 has shown us that the quiet parts of the
    cycle are equally important and thus long-term databases complementary to sunspot properties
    are necessary.
    Here we show how to consolidate Mount Wilson observatory polar faculae data from four
    observational campaigns (1906-1964), Sheeley 1966; 1960.1975, Sheeley 1976; 1975-1990,
    Sheeley 1991; 1985.2007, Sheeley 2008), validate it through a comparison with facular data
    counted automatically from MDI intensitygrams, and calibrate it against polar field measurements
    taken by the Wilcox Solar Observatory (1977-2011) and average polar field and total polar flux
    calculated using MID line-of-sight magnetograms (1996-2011).
    We also show that the consolidated polar facular measurements are in excellent agreement with
    both polar field and polar flux estimates, making them an ideal proxy of the polar magnetic field
    since 1906 and use this proxy to study the role of polar flux in the evolution of the solar cycle and
    the Heliospheric Magnetic Field (HMF).