Steinhilber & Beer: Prediction of solar activity for the next 500 years

Posted: March 28, 2014 by tallbloke in Analysis, Astrophysics, atmosphere, Celestial Mechanics, climate, cosmic rays, Cycles, Dataset, Natural Variation, Solar physics, solar system dynamics

H/T to Gerry Pease for alerting me to this paper from last year by Steinhilber and Beer which lays out a solar prediction from their analysis of their reconstruction of solar activity from proxy data.

Prediction of solar activity for the next 500 years
Friedhelm Steinhilber1 and Jürg Beer1
Received 18 May 2012; revised 18 February 2013; accepted 2 March 2013.

Recently, a new low-noise record of solar activity has been reconstructed for the past 9400 years by combining two 10Be records from Greenland and Antarctica with 14C fromtree rings [Steinhilber et al., 2012]. This record confirms earlier results, namely, that the Sun has varied with distinct periodicities in the past. We present a prediction of mean solar magnetic activity averaged over 22 years for the next 500 years mainly based on the spectral information derived from the solar activity record of the past. Assuming that the Sun will continue to vary with the same periodicities for the next centuries, we extract the spectral information from the past and apply it to two different methods to predict the future of solar magnetic activity.

First, the two methods are tested by predicting past changes. Our methods are able to predict periods of high and low solar activities for a few centuries in the past. However, they are less successful in predicting the correct amplitude. Then, themethods were used to predict the period 2000–2500. Both methods predict a period of low activity around 2100 A.D. Between 2100 and 2350 A.D., the results are inconsistent regarding the duration of the low-activity state in 2100 A.D. and the level of activity until 2250 A.D. Around 2250 A. D., both methods predict a period of moderate activity. After 2350 A.D., both methods point to a period of high activity. The period of high activity will end around 2400 A.D. and will be followed by a period of moderate activity.

Citation: Steinhilber F., and J. Beer (2013), Prediction of solar activity for the next 500 years, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 118, doi:10.1002/jgra.50210.

Full paper here

  1. ren says:

    ” Generally, a decrease in the geomagnetic field strength
    amplifies the increase in cosmic ray intensity due to low solar
    activity and attenuates the decrease in cosmic ray intensity due
    to high solar activity. Finally, we note that the prediction of
    total solar irradiance is not influenced by future changes in
    the geomagnetic field strength.”

  2. ren says:

    “[11] Finally, we would like to note that the term “solar
    activity” is not well defined. While in the past it was often
    considered as a synonym for sunspots, we use it in this work
    as a measure of the general solar magnetic activity, which
    includes both the closed magnetic field associated with
    sunspots and the open magnetic field responsible for the
    modulation of the galactic cosmic rays and, therewith, the
    production rate of cosmogenic radionuclides.”

  3. ren says:

    Therefore, the most important is the strength of the solar magnetic field.

  4. vukcevic says:

    Major problem the Steinhilber’s and other cosmogenic ‘reconstructions’ have is the instability of the Earth’s magnetic field on multidecadal, centennial and millennial time scale. The terrestrial GCR impact is modulated by both solar opened magnetic (weak) and geomagnetic (strong) fields. On centennial and longer scale (as applicable to the above paper) both fields ‘appear to oscillate’ (in the case of the Earth’s field variable component superimposed on the much longer term more stable) at different rates, as shown here.
    I am not aware of an existing method in properly differentiating between two as far as the GCR impact is concerned (btw the above spectral comparison is not available elsewhere, as it appears that it is I who first came across it).
    Adding to the above uncertainties of weather patterns on the cosmogenic production, uncertainties in the reliability of the geomagnetic field intensity changes reconstruction (that have to be subtracted before the solar role is considered), any prediction of future centennial (not to mention millennial) solar activity are no more reliable than a guess.

  5. tallbloke says:

    Vuk: This being the case, it’s remarkable how well two planetary periods of 974 and 208 yrs can replicate the 10Be series. Perhaps the other planets affect Earth’s geomag as well as the Sun?

  6. vukcevic says:

    Hi TB
    That is more then likely.
    The Earth magnetic field variable component ‘appears’ to be in strong concordance with the solar variability,
    All electro-magnetic events within heliosphere, be it the solar activity, geomagnetic variability, GCR modulation (we as yet have to learn great deal about behavior of magnetic fields of the two fast rotating gas giants) are most likely closely interlinked, in IMHO the science will only catch up with reality when solar system is considered not only Newtonian but Maxwellian too.

    Jean Dickey of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena:
    “One possibility is the movements of Earth’s core (where Earth’s magnetic field originates) might disturb Earth’s magnetic shielding of charged-particle (i.e., cosmic ray) fluxes that have been hypothesized to affect the formation of clouds. This could affect how much of the sun’s energy is reflected back to space and how much is absorbed by our planet. Other possibilities are that some other core process could be having a more indirect effect on climate, or that an external (e.g. solar) process affects the core and climate simultaneously.”

  7. There have been past prolonged solar minimums when the earth’s magnetic field was strong. Data does not support they are in lock step.

  8. Solar minimum events and approximate dates




    Homeric minimum [9] 950BC 800BC
    Oort minimum (see Medieval Warm Period) 1040 1080
    Medieval maximum (see Medieval Warm Period) 1100 1250
    Wolf minimum 1280 1350
    Spörer Minimum 1450 1550
    Maunder Minimum 1645 1715
    Dalton Minimum 1790 1820
    Modern Maximum 1900 present

    A list of historical Grand minima of solar activity[10] includes also Grand minima ca. 690 AD, 360 BC, 770 BC, 1390 BC, 2860 BC, 3340 BC, 3500 BC, 3630 BC, 3940 BC, 4230 BC, 4330 BC, 5260 BC, 5460 BC, 5620 BC, 5710 BC, 5990 BC, 6220 BC, 6400 BC, 7040 BC, 7310 BC, 7520 BC, 8220 BC, 9170 BC.

  9. Images for earth’s magnetic field strength last 10000

  10. I see independence of solar variability versus the magnetic field of the earth from the data in the above post.

  11. REN, do you think the cosmic ray count per minute will approach 7000 units if this prolonged solar minimum really becomes entrenched?

    If so this will have implications for more cloud formation. I think the threshold level for cosmic ray count major impacts is north of 6500 per minute. thanks

  12. In regards to the AP index I think sub 5.0 month after month is the key number for major impacts on the climate.

    Ren, do you agree? Thanks


    A. Ozone concentrations in the lower and middle stratosphere are in phase with the solar cycle, while in anti phase with the solar cycle in the upper stratosphere.

    B. Certain bands of UV light are more important to ozone production then others.

    C. UV light bands are in phase with the solar cycle with much more variability, in contrast to visible light and near infrared (NIR) bands which are in anti phase with the solar cycle with much LESS variability.

    The above says to me that TSI is very misleading when it comes to solar variability.

  14. vukcevic says:

    Salvatore Del Prete says:
    March 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I see independence of solar variability versus the magnetic field of the earth from the data in the above post.
    If you take a closer look at the graph (the above post)
    the terrestrial field is shifted along in the frequency domain by 1/65yr 🙂

  15. The Little Ice Age (1300 A.D. to the 20th century)
    At the end of the Medieval Warm Period, ~1230 AD, temperatures dropped ~4°C (~7° F) in ~20 years and the cold period that followed is known as the Little Ice Age. The colder climate that ensued for several centuries was devastating (see e.g., Grove, 1988, 2004; Singer and Avery, 2007; Fagan, 2000). Temperatures of the cold winters and cool, rainy summers were too low for growing of cereal crops, resulting in widespread famine .

    I see a similar climatic situation today as then.

    Beginning state of the climate compared to 1230 AD more favorable is cooler then back then.

    Solar activity compared to 1230 AD going forward similar thru 2005 Going forward, if prolonged solar minimum period pans out it could be very similar to solar activity post Medieval Warm Period. .

    Milankovitch Cycles as favorable today if not slightly more then back in 1230 AD for cooling.

    Earth’s Magnetic Field weaker today then back then, more favorable for cooling.

    Volcanic activity low now like it was around 1230 AD only to pick up. Today volcanic activity low ,I think it picks up in association with prolonged solar minimum conditions. Much evidence supports an increase in geological activity tied into prolonged solar minimums.

    Those who try to say volcanic activity independent of solar activity was a cause for climate change are wrong ,they are TIED together. If one goes back in time over 80% of major volcanic eruptions are associated during or about solar prolong minimum periods.

    My two cents .

  16. Doug Proctor says:

    The researchers predict a small (apparent) decrease in TSI. If the last 15 years of “pause” is largely a solar-induced negation of CO2 warming, but the decrease in TSI (and associated other heat-inducing aspects of solar) is claimed by the warmists to be insignificant, the “small” decrease in TSI et al predicted here will have a large influence on global temperatures and do so before 2100.

  17. Gerry says:

    Figure 3 of the paper shows three hindcast comparisons of prior millenium observations with the 500 year predictions. It is quite striking that the comparison of FFT-derived solar activity magnitude predictions with observations is much better than the wavelet method comparisons. This seems to imply that the FFT prediction of much lower solar activity in 2100 is more credible than the WTAR prediction for that date.

  18. J Martin says:

    Salvatore said “Earth’s Magnetic Field weaker today then back then, more favorable for cooling.”

    Interesting point. Perhaps solar cycle 24 that looks a bit like the Dalton solar cycle (5 ?) may turn out to have a Maunder kick to it once solar cycle 25 arrives. Landscheidt reckoned Maunder and possibly colder iirc.

  19. Geoff Sharp says:

    I wonder if Steinhilber and Beer think differently now that they have been involved in the recent McCracken paper?

    One thing the McCracken paper did not cover was the quantification of the Barycentric Anomaly. This is also something not even thought about by Charvàtovà as she looked across many decades without drilling down.

    When I met with Ken he was very interested in my quantification method which I have used to create my own 1000 year solar forecast back in Jan 2009.

    It doesnt look all that different to the Steinhilber/Beer forecast but I think it may be more accurate and perhaps they are now of the same view?

    A new piece of evidence that has supported my forecast is the finding of the 4627 year repeating gas giant positions (almost repeating). Using this method all we have to do is pick a spot on the Holocene proxy record and project it forward 4627 years. This being the case the next LIA should begin in the year 5877.

  20. tallbloke says:

    Geoff, the gas giants may be near a repeat, but the Earth’s point in the axial precession cycle will be ~85 degrees different. That’ll make a difference to climate.

  21. ren says:

    Salvatore Del Prete the Earth’s atmosphere can be very sensitive to the growth of the galactic radiation. It is not only neutrons. When solar activity is low, you better be careful when sunbathing.

  22. ren says:

    Take another look at this graph.

  23. Thanks Ren. Very interesting.

    Going forward I wonder what implications the combination of very weak solar magnetic conditions and a weakening earth magnetic field will have for the climate?

    I expect implications but the degree of magnitude change/duration of time of the combinations of a weak solar/earth magnetic field have to be met. Thresholds for lack of a better word. These are unknown. I am estimating AP index sub 5 and galactic cosmic ray counts north of 6500 per minute.

    I think this is why climate connections caused by various items are so hard to connect, because the items which do change the climate have to have a certain degree of magnitude change/duration of time in order for their effects to be manifested in the climate. Lag times are also present.

    This is also why in my opinion many solar /climate correlations from the post Dalton Period to the end of the last century do not hold up all that well. Not because they are not present but duration of time /degree of magnitude change did not reach the levels necessary to initiate a climate impact.

  24. The best analogy I can make would be the different phases water goes through when certain threshold temperatures are met with a sufficient duration of time.

    Then water changes it’s state but up to that point nothing really significant can be seen to be happening to the water ,despite the ground work that is being established for the big change as the temperature approaches the various threshold levels of the water.

    I think the ground work is being put in place now for a potential climate change, and this would explain why the climate when it does change does so in rapid jerks rather then in a smooth slow gradual change over 100’s or 1000’s of years.

  25. ren says:

    Salvatore Del Prete
    It seems to me that the changes have already begun. Please note weak hurricane season last year. This year in America in the Great Lakes region is still the winter. See also drop in temperature in the stratosphere.

  26. ren says:

    Further changes are dependent on the behavior of the Sun, with a decreasing geomagnetic field.

  27. The shutdown in the north has had consequences, the north pole is looking to head back towards the neutral zone instead of building strength like other cycles

    That was from Geoff Sharp’s web-site a month or so ago.

    This is just further evidence that the sun has entered a new regime to very quiet conditions.

    I think we are in a prolonged solar minimum period.

  28. heliospheric field;
    centennial variations;
    open solar flux

    [1] Svalgaard and Cliver (2010) recently reported a consensus between the various reconstructions of the heliospheric field over recent centuries. This is a significant development because, individually, each has uncertainties introduced by instrument calibration drifts, limited numbers of observatories, and the strength of the correlations employed. However, taken collectively, a consistent picture is emerging. We here show that this consensus extends to more data sets and methods than reported by Svalgaard and Cliver, including that used by Lockwood et al. (1999), when their algorithm is used to predict the heliospheric field rather than the open solar flux. One area where there is still some debate relates to the existence and meaning of a floor value to the heliospheric field. From cosmogenic isotope abundances, Steinhilber et al. (2010) have recently deduced that the near-Earth IMF at the end of the Maunder minimum was 1.80 ± 0.59 nT which is considerably lower than the revised floor of 4nT proposed by Svalgaard and Cliver. We here combine cosmogenic and geomagnetic reconstructions and modern observations (with allowance for the effect of solar wind speed and structure on the near-Earth data) to derive an estimate for the open solar flux of (0.48 ± 0.29) × 1014 Wb at the end of the Maunder minimum. By way of comparison, the largest and smallest annual means recorded by instruments in space between 1965 and 2010 are 5.75 × 1014 Wb and 1.37 × 1014 Wb, respectively, set in 1982 and 2009, and the maximum of the 11 year running means was 4.38 × 1014 Wb in 1986. Hence the average open solar flux during the Maunder minimum is found to have been 11% of its peak value during the recent grand solar maximum

    Steinhiber’s work in tis area. If correct tis means the sun can be quite variable. It will have climatic implications.

  29. vukcevic says:

    Further up the thread I have said :
    any predictions of future centennial (not to mention millennial) solar activity are no more reliable than a guess
    I should have a slice of a proverbial ‘humble pie’ and modify my comment perhaps as:
    “predictions of future centennial solar activity may be somewhat better than an educated guess”.
    Few weeks ago I looked at the Steinhilber et al newest 10B-C14 derived solar activity spectral composition. I was a bit critical of results but Stanford solar supremo dismissed my comments as irrelevant.
    Recent post here on TB’s blog gave me opportunity to address my comment to Dr. McCracken, the ex NASA world expert in the field. His response, needless to say was different and above all encouraging, but required some additional explanation.
    I have just started going through my files to prepare detailed answers.
    I digress; but I maintain that the 10B-C14 derived solar activity reconstructions, past or future, give insufficient attention to the modulation by the geomagnetic field.
    I have used Steinhilber et al spectral data, further subtracted components I assume are due to the geomagnetic field, ending with only three dominant components above 200 year periodicity, and therefore my reconstruction of future solar activity is of a very low resolution. It contains only one free-floating parameter (the time reference 1960, when solar cycles peaked) with no phase adjustments for any of the three cosines.
    I compared my result to the Steinhilber & Beer’s prediction of solar activity for the next 500 years:
    it agrees reasonably well with the WTAR prediction, so it appears that my objections may not be totally baseless.
    p.s when I have composed answers to Dr. McCracken’s question I shall post them on the TB’s blog.

  30. tallbloke says:

    Hi Vuk: Thanks for this, I look forward to posting your composition as a fresh article here. Please could you just tell us which are the three dominant components above 200 year periodicity you found, just to give us something to chew on in relation to our own work.

  31. vukcevic says:

    Hi Tb
    Most of the essential info is added now to the link:

  32. Gerry says:

    I hate to see the prominent 197 year (near 199 year Jose cycle) periodicity totally ignored. Doing that seems to produce strange results for the Maunder Minimum (~1650 to 1700) hindcast. Steinhilber & Beer’s result at least yields a negative rate of change of solar magnetic activity throughout the Maunder Minimum, for whatever that may be worth. Also, the FFT analysis does a better job of hindcasting solar magnetic activity amplitudes than the WTAR (wavelet) method, though the WTAR analysis may be better in phase space.

  33. vukcevic says:

    Hi Gerry, thanks for your comment
    As I have on number of occasions stated, 10Be/14C proxies in my view are not very accurate or reliable indication of the heliospheric MF strength at the Earth’s orbit.
    I am not particularly convinced by the outcome of either the Steinhilber’s or for that matter my own graphing.
    That said, I was just attempting to demonstrate what would happen if the spectrum is modified by application of ‘more accurate’ geomagnetic data, and as it happens in this case, it is more in line with the WTAR than the FFT. This doesn’t mean I think that one is more accurate than the other, a bit skeptical about both.
    It is appears that there is lot of power concentrated around 200 yr, and since Steinhilber’s data is spaced at 22 yr intervals, you may well be correct about the 199 year Jose cycle. By replacing 208yr by 199yr in the equation, the output plot change is is only minor, and would not make any significant difference to final conclusion, if one is to take all this as meaningful, which may or may not be the case.

  34. An observation it looks like the average AP index from 1840-2002 was around 13.

    Post 2005 I would say we have had a significant drop. Do you all agree?

    This is important when it comes to the climate and how it may change going forward.