The Sun Is Waking Up — Right On Schedule?

Posted: May 23, 2022 by oldbrew in Cycles, predictions, solar system dynamics
Tags: ,

Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

The Sun may still have a surprise or two for solar cycle 25 theorists, but what we hear is: “I believe this will likely be the best forecast to come out of one of the NOAA/NASA Cycle prediction panels.” The article below doesn’t include the question mark in its headline.
– – –
The Sun is waking up, says Sky and Telescope.

In recent weeks, NASA has announced X-class solar flares, observers have seen large sunspot groups with the unaided eye, and online services have issued multiple aurora alerts even for mid-latitudes.

After years of quiescence — the Sun was more often spotless than not in 2018, 2019, and 2020 — the change of pace is exciting solar observers.

The Sun goes through 11-year cycles of magnetically instigated activity, which include sunspots, flares, and massive eruptions. While such activity last peaked around 2012 through 2014, that maximum was meager at best. In fact, it marked one of the quietest cycles in 100 years.

Now, the uptick in activity seems to mark a change in the Sun’s behavior. Lisa Upton (Space Systems Research Corporation), co-chair of the Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, says that for the first time in 50 years, this solar cycle seems to be stronger than the one before it.

She and colleague David Hathaway are predicting that this cycle will be up to 30% more active.

“This may mean that we have reached the inflection point in the current Gleissberg cycle and might start to see bigger cycles,” Upton speculates. “It’s a bit too early to say for sure, though.”

However, she emphasizes that we shouldn’t expect too much from the Sun’s current activity. “The cycle is following very nicely along the strongest/earliest of [the panel’s] predictions and is certainly on track to be another weak cycle,” she adds.

“We still consider this cycle to be below average,” confirms panel co-chair Doug Biesecker (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). “Even with the recent activity, the sunspot number is still within the error bars of the solar cycle prediction from the panel.”
. . .
“We should have a very interesting Sun to see during the 2024 Great American Eclipse,” Upton says, “certainly very different from the 2017 Great American Eclipse.”

Full article here.

  1. tallbloke says:

    Welcome to solar max.

  2. Stephen Richards says:

    What does your model say, Roger

  3. tallbloke says:

    It says we’re nearing solar max. Our model predicted (in 2013) a SC25 peak 12 month average of around 50SSN in late 2022. Currently, the 12 month average is about 43SSN. We were a bit early and a bit low with SC24, we predicted a peak at 100SSN vs 117 actual, so if that sort of error holds for SC25, peak may be around 67SSN in late 2023. Time will tell.

  4. Stephen Richards says:

    Not bad for amateurs. 😉

  5. oldbrew says:

    MONSTER SUNSPOT: The biggest sunspot of Solar Cycle 25 is crossing the face of the sun–and it’s a beauty. Or a monster. Decide for yourself. Luigi Morrone sends this picture of AR3014 from the Amalfitan Coast of Italy:

    The primary dark cores of AR3014 are all wider than Earth. The entire ensemble stretches more than 125,000 km from end to end–almost a third of the distance between Earth and the Moon.

  6. bobweber says:

    I wouldn’t be very happy if I had made their prediction; and I wouldn’t be spinning it as a success.

    The SWPC original SC#25 prediction is shown in green in the image panels below, with the current actual SC#25 activity shown in blue.

    Looking at the actual SC#25 activity, where is any sign that the SWPC prediction was even close to actual in the first place other than during the first 12 months? In fact their prediction is about 50% too low currently, compared to actual activity, even after factoring in their +/- 10 SN error. The two things they’ve gotten right: SC#25 is stronger than SC#24, and is still below average.

    The grand solar minimum (GSM) crowd has taken the SWPC SN prediction long low tail to mean ‘NOAA says we’re heading into a GSM’. At twice Usoskin’s 30y SN average for a GSM, the current 30y SN will only increase more with the SC#25 solar maximum, making it still far above the low levels of a GSM. The GSM folks are living in a so far non-existent reality of their own making, excuse me, of Valentina Zharkova’s making.

    The higher than average SC#25 prediction by McIntosh et al based on their terminator work is also in jeopardy of being busted, see panel (b) above, the sunspot cycles’ running sunspot number average trajectories indicate no low-end cycles traverse above the average cycle #1-24 path.

    The polar fields precursor method prediction of a SC#25 being slightly stronger than SC#24 by Leif Svalgaard and others is holding up, and all signs are that will continue.

  7. tallbloke says:

    Bob, thanks for your analysis, nice and clear. According to our prediction, we’re likely to see a long run of lowish cycles after SC25 out to 2100. I think the Sun could still surprise us in the next decade. It’s going to be fascinating to watch.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Official sunspot number is 34 today.
    – – –
    Another broadside from Miles Mathis…

    Click to access goody2.pdf

  9. oldbrew says:

    After a burst of activity, sunspots have been back around the 35-65 range for the last week or so.

    In February 2022, the McIntosh et al. prediction has been revised to a maximum sunspot number of 190 ± 20, indicated in the plots below as the McIntosh/Leamon 2022 forecast. This is quite close to an average solar cycle.

  10. Geoff Sharp says:

    SC25 is still on track to match SC6, but anything could happen of course..

  11. oldbrew says:

    The May peak is over.

  12. tallbloke says:

    Geoff S; thanks for that interesting comparison. If we do get a lull in activity soon, it’ll make cyclic theory look a little stronger.

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