Historic space weather could clarify what’s next

Posted: August 14, 2018 by oldbrew in Cycles, Forecasting, research, Solar physics, weather

Solar flare [image credit: NASA/SDO]

Quoting from the research article’s plain language summary: ‘We find that some aspects of the space weather climate are in fact reproducible, they can be inferred from that of previous solar maxima. This may help understand the behaviour of future solar maxima.’ Solar wind variation is highlighted.

Historic space weather may help us understand what’s coming next, according to new research by the University of Warwick, says Phys.org.

Professor Sandra Chapman, from Warwick’s Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics, led a project which charted the space weather in previous solar cycles across the last half century, and discovered an underlying repeatable pattern in how space weather activity changes with the solar cycle.

The sun goes through solar cycles around every eleven years, during which time the number of sunspots increases to the maximum point (the ‘solar maximum’). More solar activity means more solar flares, which in turn can mean more extreme space weather at earth.

This breakthrough will allow better understanding and planning for space weather, and for any future threats it may pose to the Earth.

Space weather can disrupt electronics, aviation and satellite systems and communications –this depends on solar activity, but as this is different for each solar cycle, the overall likelihood of space weather events can be difficult to forecast.

This exciting research shows that space weather and the activity of the sun are not entirely random – and may constrain how likely large weather events are in future cycles.

Sandra Chapman, Professor from the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics and the lead author, commented:

“We analysed the last five solar maxima and found that although the overall likelihood of more extreme events varied from one solar maximum to another, there is an underlying pattern to their likelihood, which does not change.

“If this pattern persists into the next solar maximum, our research, which constrains how likely large events are, will allow better preparation for potential space weather threats to Earth.”

Continued here.

Research article: S. C. Chapman et al. Reproducible aspects of the climate of space weather over the last five solar cycles, Space Weather (2018).
DOI: 10.1029/2018SW001884
[abstract and summary only]

  1. vuurklip says:

    How is this new – even a “breakthrough”??

  2. oldbrew says:

    We don’t know from the abstract the exact details of the ‘underlying repeatable pattern’ they refer to. But any repeatable pattern must say something about the Sun itself i.e. not totally random.
    – – –
    Solar max comparison SCs 23 and 24

  3. stpaulchuck says:

    you mean that bright shiny thing in the daytime sky affects Earth? who knew?

  4. oldbrew says:

    SILSO: Evolution of spotless days in SC24-25 and comparison with other cycle transits

    Currently (June 2018), the spotless days evolution seems to track the bold red line (SCn) better than the bold blue line (SCo), suggesting an early cycle minimum around mid-2018 +/- 3 months. In that case, SC24 would have lasted less than 10 years and thus be relatively short. However, it is still too early to exclude a late minimum (mid-2020, +/- 1 year) with many spotless days, because the upper dashed blue line almost coincides with the bold red line at this stage of the solar cycle. More certainty is expected within the next 12 months as more data become available.


  5. Sean says:

    This may be a break thru for them but is well known and common knowledge for others. If they have studied the effects of solar minimums in the past then they will know what to expect in the present. We are in a Grand Solar Minimum right now and far from Global warming we are about to experience a mini ice age that will bring freezing conditions and starvation to countless millions for many years to come, as it has in the past, but they dare not mention that. It would upset Malthus. Look him up.

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