Gerry Pease: Solar Cycle 24 Maximum

Posted: October 25, 2012 by Rog Tallbloke in Solar physics

Solar Cycle 24 Maximum
by Gerry Pease

Because of the long intervals over which the sunspot number data are smoothed, there is a possibility that solar cycle 24 maximum occurred last February, 2012.

Ironically, Feb, 2012 was an unsmoothed monthly minimum, both in SSN and F10.7.  Another possibility is that there will be a second, higher, smoothed peak occurring later in 2012 or in 2013, close to the expected time of solar magnetic pole reversal.

From http://www.solen.info/solar/
Monthly solar cycle data

http://www.wdc.rl.ac.uk/Help/Kp_Ap.html

Monthly Average measured solar flux International sunspot number (SIDC) Smoothed sunspot number Average ap

2011.08 101.7 50.6 59.0 (+1.8) 7.26
2011.09 133.8 78.0 59.5 (+0.5) 12.27
2011.10 137.3 88.0 59.9 (+0.4) 8.28
2011.11 153.5 96.7 61.1 (+1.2) 5.55
2011.12 141.3 73.0 63.4 (+2.3) 3.78
2012.01 132.5 58.3 65.5 (+2.1) 7.15
2012.02 106.5 32.9 66.9 (+1.4)
possible cycle 24 max 8.81
2012.03 114.7 64.3 66.8 (-0.1) 16.08
2012.04 113.0 55.2 (64.7 projected, -2.1) 10.10
2012.05 121.5 69.0 (61.8 projected, -2.9) 7.06
2012.06 119.6 64.5 (59.9 projected, -1.9) 10.08
2012.07 133.9 66.5 (60.0 projected, +0.1) 13.90
2012.08 115.4 63.1 (62.0 projected, +2.0) 7.96
2012.09 122.9 61.5 (63.6 projected, +1.6) 8.07
2012.10 125.2 (1) 60.7 (2A) / 78.4 (2B) / 58.0 (2C) (63.5 projected, -0.1) (12.30)

1) Running average based on the daily 20:00 UTC observed solar flux value at 2800 MHz.
2A) Current impact on the monthly sunspot number based on the Boulder (NOAA/SWPC) sunspot number (accumulated daily sunspots / month days). The official SIDC international sunspot number is typically 30-50% lower. 2B) Boulder SN current month average to date. 2C) STAR SDO 1K Wolf number 30 day average.
3) Running average based on the quicklook and definitive Potsdam WDC ap indices. Values in red are based on the definitive international Potsdam WDC ap indices.

A graphical comparison of solar cycles 10, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 24

“Solar cycle 24 was a slow starter. Until the end of 2010 it looked as if the cycle could become the smallest in at least a century. In 2011 cycle 24 has finally displayed quite a bit of activity, and after august 2011 there has been a strong increase in solar flux. Currently cycle 24 is developing similarly to another slow starter, cycle 10, and there’s a chance the cycle could become significantly stronger than the current consensus.

A number of previous cycles have been selected for comparison with cycle 24. While cycle 10 is the one to reach the highest peak and the one that currently tracks cycle 24 best, the weaker cycles 12 and 14 may be better long term comparisons. The chart below displays the development of all those cycles during their 10 first years.

The X axis in the chart is the number of months from the start of a cycle, while the Y axis is the international monthly smoothed sunspot number.”

[Solar Terrestrial Activity Report<http://www.solen.info/solar/index.html>] [Graphical comparison solar cycles 21, 22, 23 and 24<http://www.solen.info/solar/cyclcomp.html>]

http://sidc.oma.be/KalmanOutputs/ML/Current/figKFML.jpg:<http://sidc.oma.be/KalmanOutputs/ML/Current/figKFML.jpg:>

McNish & Lincoln (M&L) corrections:

http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1996SoPh..168..423F<http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1996SoPh..168..423F>

http://leif.org/research/WSO-Polar-Fields-since-2003.png<http://leif.org/research/WSO-Polar-Fields-since-2003.png>:

Comments
  1. J Martin says:

    If sunspot activity does pick up leading to any increase in temperatures, that will lead to co2 cultists dancing in the streets. It will be disaster for the economies of the West.

  2. tallbloke says:

    Wouldn’t make more than 0.05C difference even if it headed up to SC 23 levels from here.

    La Nina MKIII headed our way.

  3. Tenuc says:

    Very difficult to predict what SC24 is going to do as we only have a very short observational record which is insufficient to predict the range of activity levels that the variable star at the centre of our solar system can display.

    Here are a few markers which indicate we are already at solar NH max and while current activity levels could continue for several years while the SH catches up, the weak magnetic field indicates that the sun is going into slumber mode.,,

    TSI
    http://www.leif.org/research/TSI-SORCE-2008-now.png

    L&P Effect
    http://www.leif.org/research/Livingston%20and%20Penn.png

    Butterfly Diagram North vv South Activity
    http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/bfly.gif

    It is interesting to note that the descending half of the cycle is always longer than the ascending half by 1.62 (phi turns up again!), Also, the ascending half of the cycle affects earths climate more strongly than the descending half. So if this cycle continues to have a weak solar max, we can almost guarantee cool times ahead until the next cycle at least.

  4. J Martin says:

    The co2 cultists are running out of time and looking increasingly likely to find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place.

    On the one hand if they don’t get a geo-engineering scheme up and running soon, mother nature will almost certainly beat them to it, as reducing temperatures become all too obvious to ‘the people’ as we inexorably move to towards the solar low.

    On the other hand if they do get a geo-engineering scheme going and the low turns out to be a new minimum, they then risk being accused of endangering whole populations by helping precipitate the next glaciation.

    Either way round the $100 billion gravy train will come to a lurching shuddering slowdown.

    The only exit strategy I can see for the co2 cultists is to claim that ‘the peoples’ failure to act has led to an alternative tipping point which they will claim was predicted all along by their climate models without of course offering any proof of that.

    The 64 million dollar question is of course whether the MSM and the bulk of ‘the people’ will continue to be as gullible as they have been so far.

    We could be, but a few short tantalising years away from this delectable scenario.

    It seems to me that no matter which scenario plays out, the co2 cultists are screwed.

  5. Gerry says:

    Tenuc says:
    October 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm
    Very difficult to predict what SC24 is going to do as we only have a very short observational record which is insufficient to predict the range of activity levels that the variable star at the centre of our solar system can display.

    Here are a few markers which indicate we are already at solar NH max and while current activity levels could continue for several years while the SH catches up, the weak magnetic field indicates that the sun is going into slumber mode.,,
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I agree with your comments, although Sol still seems very hesitant to actually go into slumber mode. SC24 in some respects now resembles SC16 and SC12, which respectively maxed out 17 months and 26 months after the initial peak. It will be very interesting to see if the L&P effect is strong enough to prevent this from happening to SC24. The L&P effect is clearly not strong enough to prevent a later maximum that is much closer in time to the first peak, such as occurred with cycles 10, 13, and 15 14.

  6. Tenuc says:

    Hi Gerry, I’m not sure that looking at previous cycles will give a good indication of what will happen in SC24. The smoothed SSN peaked in Feb this year at 67 and has stayed below this level since then. We may get a further peak within the next 12 months when the SH catches up with the NH, but this is very weak solar activity compared to recent solar maximums.

    I’m concerned that should this weak level of activity continue, the minimum will be long and protracted when it eventually arrives. At the end of the day, this cycle has some of the best solar physicists guessing what will happen next, so there are no certainties. However, the de Vries quasi-cycle has been known about for a long time and must not be ignored…

    1410-1500 cold – Low Solar Activity(LSA)? – (Sporer minimum)
    1510-1600 warm – High Solar Activity(HSA)?
    1610-1700 cold – (LSA) (Maunder minimum)
    1710-1800 warm – (HSA)
    1810-1900 cold – (LSA) (Dalton minimum)
    1910-2000 warm – (HSA) (Mann Climate Optimum)
    2010-2100 cold??? – (LSA???)

  7. J Martin says:

    Any mention of phi and 1.618 gets my interest. For the current cycle to be a long one and for the second part of it to be 1.62 times as long as the first part would require a plateau of sorts for a few years yet.

    So is Livingston & Penn tailing off, not going to come to pass ?
    Or still on target for 2020. I know they (or someone) said 2015 but looking at their graph it looks more like 2020 to me.

    In the third graph Tenuc linked to http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/bfly.gif
    one aspect of cycle 24 on the lower graph caught my eye, namely that cycle 24 seemed noticeably less spiky than the other cycles. Could this indicate that the L&P effect is showing early indications that it will be an influence in cycle 25.

  8. Doug Proctor says:

    If zero’d at the “10” smoothed sunspot point, 24 looks like 14 to 16; the anomalous nature of 24 seems to go away. Except that the rapid rise is more like the higher sunspot years.

    Is this like someone said about stars and people: that the more you study groupings of stars, the more peculiear and individual each is?

  9. Gerry says:

    Doug,
    This is a kind of puzzle, which was my partial motivation for posting it in the first place. We know that the smoothed SSN peaked in February because the smoothed SSN for March was 0.1 less in March. After that, we only have projections, and the actual smoothed SSN for April will depend on the value of the unsmoothed SSN for October. We won’t know that exact value for a few days, but we are close enough to the end of the month to be able to guess the approximate value. The daily sunspot numbers are still somewhat chaotic, however, so what seems like a reasonable guess can be off by an annoying amount.

    After the end of October, when we will know the October unsmoothed SSN and the April smoothed SSN, we face the challenge of trying to guess the unsmoothed monthly sunspot number trend for subsequent months. In the next six months the trend could quickly go from downward to upward, as it has done a couple of times in the recent past:
    http://leif.org/research/TSI-SORCE-2008-now.png

    If the trend does revert to upwards in the next six months, we could easily have a new max soon after that happens.

  10. tallbloke says:

    Cycle 6 had a late burst of activity around 1805 if the SIDC monthly numbers are right. I think that on a long low cycle, anomalous bursts could tip the maximum to one end of the plateau or the other. The key thing is, it’s a very low cycle altogether, and wherever the ‘peak’ occurs’, nothing changes that.

    It could be a good time for checking our planetary theories though. I have an interesting old paper which I’ll feature soon, which will give us some testable hypotheses to work with.

  11. Gerry says:

    Roger,
    In the process of rechecking solar barycentric orbital angular momentum results, I note that a minimum for that value is coming up in 2013. Likewise for solar barycentric velocity, I believe. Any physical connection of these minima to solar max is not clear or obvious to me, but another predictable event that is clearly associated with solar max, solar magnetic pole reversal, also points to solar max in 2013.

    Latest update for that:
    http://leif.org/research/WSO-Polar-Fields-since-2003.png

  12. Gerry says:

    Re: solar motion and solar activity, this old post:
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/gerry-pease-comparing-solar-motion-with-solar-activity/,
    still seems to be holding up well. Note to general readers: Signed SSN minima are unsigned SSN maxima. The extrapolation also reveals what many solar scientists are now well aware of – the possibility of SC24 Max occurring in 2014.

  13. Tenuc says:

    J Martin says:
    October 26, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Any mention of phi and 1.618 gets my interest.

    In case you haven’t come across any reasonable explanation of why phi crops up all over the place in the physical world, please have a look at this…
    The Physics Behind the Golden Ratio – Miles Mathis
    http://milesmathis.com/phi.html

    “…So is Livingston & Penn tailing off, not going to come to pass ?
    Or still on target for 2020. I know they (or someone) said 2015 but looking at their graph it looks more like 2020 to me…”

    My take on this is that the L&P effect is another indicator that the non-polar solar magnetic field is weakening as well as the polar field. Should the L&P trend continue, I think it likely we’re
    heading for another cold, Maunder type minimum. Also interesting that Earth magnetic field has been weakening steadily over the past 180 years. I wonder if this could be a solar system wide phenomenon?

  14. tallbloke says:

    In the solar context, Landscheidt’s work on the golden section (phi) is well worth a look too. And Kepler’s triangle. There is a hidden mystery here which I am trying to fathom.

  15. Edim says:

    SC 24 maximum? Well, the timing of the maximum is somewhat arbitrary, but however you look at it, there’s still some time to go. I have predicted ~2014 to be the centerline of the plateau (long cycle).
    http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/bfly.gif

  16. Paisley says:

    This is fascinating… don’t know what to write.

    Now I have to go into the phi stuff…

  17. Gerry says:

    Paisley says:
    October 30, 2012 at 6:32 am
    This is fascinating… don’t know what to write.

    Now I have to go into the phi stuff…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Hi Paisley,

    Here’s some phi stuff on Maximum of solar eruptions in the 11-year sunspot cycle:

    http://www.john-daly.com/theodor/new-enso.htm

  18. Gerry says:

    November update:

    The smoothed SSN for April is 64.9, as a result of a low October unsmoothed monthly SSN of just 53.3. The smoothed SSN peak of 66.9 in Feb is now quite distinct.
    See http://www.solen.info/solar/images/comparison_similar_cycles.png

    It is still likely that actual SC24 Max will occur later than this first peak unless the unsmoothed sunspot numbers continue to decline or level out for many months from now.

    -Gerry Pease

  19. Gerry says:

    Correction: The smoothed SSN for April is 64.6

  20. Project722 says:

    Assuming that C24 maxed (NH only) in Feb, (A) is it normal for the SH to lag so far behind before it “catches” up, as Tenuc stated? And (B) What kind of impact does this have for the Suns pole flip, if any? Will they reverse together, or possibly at different times? What will be the signs of the magnetic poles flipping besides eqatorial sunspots, polar coronal holes, and umbral field reverse?

  21. Gerry says:

    Asymmetric reversals are not unusual, but SC24 is certainly more asymmetric than most. There is currently so little sunspot area in either hemisphere that the hemispheric activity asymmetry seen in the butterfly diagram does not provide much information regarding solar max time, in my opinion. See http://spaceweather.com/

    The north pole has already temporarily changed magnetic polarity during this cycle. Reversal time will likely be when the south pole magnetic polarity finally flips following an earlier flip in north magnetic polarity.

  22. Project722 says:

    Thanks Gerry – I understand about every 22 years that the poles return to their original polarity with a reversal every 11 years but you seem to be saying that a flip has happened in between the 11 years? Am I following this? And it was temporary so it changed back? If this is what happened, what were the indicators?

  23. tchannon says:

    It is believed the north solar pole changes first and data from HInode showed north change happening. Magnetic flip happens close to sunspot solar maximum.

    Magnetically there is a 22 year cycle directly related to a sunspot cycle for each half of the 22 year, hence 11 year, ie. the true solar cycle is 22 year but sunspot appear in both case. However, the magnetic polarity of sunspot also reverses.

    Also, there tends to be strong – weak – strong – sunspot cycles alternately, which I suggests point to a magnetic bias one way. Nothing is straight or even.

    A further problem is that assuming a single magnetic pole for north or south is unwise for the sun and for that matter for the earth.

  24. Gerry says:

    Here’s some Hinode satellite instrumental information:

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hinode/instruments.html

    Latest WSO Polar Fields N – S data update:
    http://leif.org/research/WSO-Polar-Fields-since-2003.png

    The unsmoothed N – S data seems to be on a trajectory heading for polar magnetic field reversal next month!

  25. tallbloke says:

    Thanks for the update Gerry. Please could you align graphs one above the other rather than side by side in future – it makes them better for display in the blog format.

    The J-E-V planetary cycles are anomalous compared to the last 200 years, and may indicate an unusual solar cycle which can be interpreted as two shorter cycles run together, or a long cycle with a big pause in the middle.

    http://tallbloke.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/rotation-solar-windspeed-adjusted.png

    Roy Martin’s prediction based on the tidal hypothesis (shown in red) runs a little high. Based on my own understanding and judgement I was guessing a solar max of ~35-50SSN, which is more in line with Geoff Sharp’s laymans sunspot count.

  26. tchannon says:

    Is on Leif’s server Rog.
    I’ve not been watching the field recently.

    The main question is whether reversal takes place, no assumptions because a unipolar sun is suggested by old drawings. This combines with other unusual factors.

  27. Project722 says:

    Thanks Gerry – I found the NASA article on the Hinode findings on the NH pole reversal.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hinode/news/pole-asymmetry.html

    This is actually in line with many who believe that we hit solar max in Feb 2012 with a smoothed SSN of 66.9. (solen.info) So a NH reversal shortly after this makes sense. What I am wondering is – if we in-fact hit maximum were observations made on the location of sunspots? Meaning, I have learned that the primary indicator of solar max is that spots get equatorial.

  28. Gerry says:

    Project722:

    Here’s the relevant quote from your Hinode pole-asymmetry link:
    “This is one of the most interesting things in this Hinode paper to me,” says Tarbell. “How did the polar reversal start so early, even though the onset of the solar cycle, that is, increased activity at lower latitudes, hadn’t begun yet?”

    “Tarbell thinks these observations mean that this model, too, may need to be re-examined.”

    I agree with Tarbell that the model needs to be re-examined. :) It does not seem to work for low-activity cycle 24. SC24 just keeps us guessing and speculating. That’s what makes it so interesting.

  29. tchannon says:

    Cycle 23 was a prime example.

  30. Gerry says:

    tallbloke says:
    November 6, 2012 at 8:19 am
    Thanks for the update Gerry. Please could you align graphs one above the other rather than side by side in future – it makes them better for display in the blog format.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Rog,
    You’ll have to tell that to Leif. I linked to the WSO polar fields graphics on his website because I prefer his graphics to the ones on http://wso.stanford.edu/ (except for the side by side format, which I agree is annoying).

  31. Project722 says:

    So I posed this question to the experts over on WUWT and apparently (A) They don’t know the answer, (B) Don’t understand the question, or (C) think I am ignorant for asking.

    I was curious about the “dark count” as can be seen on the SDO-EVE Diodes plot and what it tells us and why its important.

    Here is what I was told:

    “A measure of the noise in the system can be had by not letting sunlight into the detector and see what reading you get

    [the dark current].”

    And this:

    “What I should have said is that any electronic measurement has a background level that is due to e.g. thermal noise in the detector. To get the real signal one must subtract that background. To measure the background level [the 'dark current'] simply switch off the Sun [put the cover back on the instrument] and see what current you still see. This should not correlate with solar activity for a well-built instrument.”

    I suppose part of my question was answered but I would still like to know what this measure of “dark current” is used for, and what does it signify? The range goes from like 40 to 48.

  32. Gerry says:

    Bipolar solar magnetic field reversal has happened! It was captured well in the right hand side of Leif’s side-by-side graphic:
    http://leif.org/research/WSO-Polar-Fields-since-2003.png

  33. Project722 says:

    Gerry says:
    November 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Bipolar solar magnetic field reversal has happened! It was captured well in the right hand side of Leif’s side-by-side graphic:
    http://leif.org/research/WSO-Polar-Fields-since-2003.png

    Interesting! So magnetic field strength has reached zero. When will we start to see the magnetic flux in both the NH and SH reversing as well?

  34. Gerry says:

    P722,
    Wish I knew! I guess we will (independently) find out soon.

  35. Project722 says:

    I see a clearly defined but small reversed polarity spot center disk at high latitude. We should start seeing more of these if the polar fields have reversed.