Posts Tagged ‘sunspots’

Northern Lights illuminate sky over UK [image credit: BBC]

Northern Lights illuminate sky over UK [image credit: BBC]

‘We could see these changes occurring as early as the next few decades’, say the researchers.

Britain may lose the magic of the Northern Lights by the middle of the century due to major shifts in solar activity, scientists have discovered.

Space scientists at the University of Reading conclude that plummeting solar activity will shrink the overall size of the sun’s ‘atmosphere’ by a third and weaken its protective influence on the Earth, reports

This could make the Earth more vulnerable to technology-destroying solar blasts and cancer-causing cosmic radiation, as well as making the aurora less common away from the north and south polar regions for 50 years or more.

Hurricane Katrina [image credit: NASA]

Hurricane Katrina [image credit: NASA]

Although some climate alarmists contend that CO2-induced global warming will increase the number of hurricanes in the future, the search for such effect on Atlantic Ocean tropical cyclone frequency has so far remained elusive, reports CO2 Science.

And with the recent publication of Rojo-Garibaldi et al. (2016), it looks like climate alarmists will have to keep on looking, or accept the likelihood that something other than CO2 is at the helm in moderating Atlantic hurricane frequency.

In their intriguing analysis published in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, the four-member research team of Rojo-Garibaldi et al. developed a new database of historical hurricane occurrences in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, spanning twenty-six decades over the period 1749 to 2012.

Petrified log at Petrified Forest National Park, AZ [image credit: Jon Sullivan / Wikipedia]

Petrified log at Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
[image credit: Jon Sullivan / Wikipedia]

They seem to base their estimates of the past solar cycle length on a study of only 79 years’ worth of data which is almost certainly too short for high accuracy, but the results are interesting nevertheless.

A pair of German researchers has found evidence in ancient tree rings of a solar sunspot cycle millions of years ago similar to the one observed in more modern times, reports

In their paper published in the journal Geology, Ludwig Luthardt and Ronny Rößler describe how they gathered an assortment of petrified tree samples from a region in Germany and used them to count sunspot cycles.

Scientists know that the sun undergoes a sunspot cycle of approximately 11 years—some spots appear, grow cooler and then slowly move toward the equator and eventually disappear—the changes to the sun spots cause changes to the brightness level of the sun—as the level waxes and wanes, plants here on Earth respond, growing more or less in a given year—this can be seen in the width of tree rings.

In this new effort, the researchers gathered petrified tree samples from a region of Germany that was covered by lava during a volcanic eruption approximately 290 million years ago (during the Permian period), offering a historical record of sun activity.



We’ve ignored the early history and jumped in further on in this article about sunspots and the solar cycle. The astrophysicist author wonders if it will take another 400 years to figure out why the solar cycle (the period between magnetic reversals) is around 11 years on average. Maybe a few Talkshop posts could be helpful, dare we say?

What the heck was going on to cause these spots? In the early 1900s, a few key observations pointed astronomers and physicists in the right direction. For one, sunspot activity seemed to cycle every 11 years, from lots of sunspots to just a few-sunspots and back to lots of sunspots.

The cycle was even apparent during the weird “Maunder Minimum,” when there was very little activity in the 1600s (the term was coined much later). 

Then there’s the temperature. Sunspots look dark, but that’s only in comparison to the blazing solar surface around them; they’re cooler than the rest of the sun, but still ragingly hot in their own right.


Where to find Proxima Centauri [credit: Wikipedia]

Where to find Proxima Centauri [credit: Wikipedia]

Co-author Jeremy Drake said: “The existence of a cycle in Proxima Centauri shows that we don’t understand how stars’ magnetic fields are generated as well as we thought we did.” Let the head-scratching begin.

Observations confirm that the closest star to our solar system has a regular magnetic cycle similar to our Sun, reports Sky & Telescope.

With the recent discovery of a potentially habitable planet around Proxima Centauri, astronomers have been studying this star with renewed fervor. Part of their attention focuses on the star’s behavior. M dwarfs are notorious for their flares, and such stellar tantrums could be deadly for budding life on nearby planets.


Solar flare erupting from a sunspot [image credit:]

Solar flare erupting from a sunspot [image credit:]

Researchers have unearthed a cause-and-effect conundrum for solar physicists, involving solar flares. reports.

Solar physicists have long viewed the rotation of sunspots as a primary generator of solar flares – the sudden, powerful blasts of electromagnetic radiation and charged particles that burst into space during explosions on the sun’s surface. Their turning motion causes energy to build up that is released in the form of flares.

But a team of NJIT scientists now claims that flares in turn have a powerful impact on sunspots, the visible concentrations of magnetic fields on the sun’s surface, or photosphere. In a paper published in Nature Communications this week, the researchers argue that flares cause sunspots to rotate at much faster speeds than are usually observed before they erupt.


A solar cycle 24 prediction chart [credit:NASA]

A solar cycle 24 prediction chart [credit:NASA]

What follows are extracts, omitting a few of the more technical aspects which can be viewed in the GWPF’s full article here. Possible ‘colder climates’ get a mention.

Sten Odenwald of NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium writes:
Forecasters are already starting to make predictions for what might be in store as our sun winds down its current sunspot cycle in a few years. Are we in for a very intense cycle of solar activity, or the beginning of a century-long absence of sunspots and a rise in colder climates?

Ever since Samuel Schwabe discovered the 11-year ebb and flow of sunspots on the sun in 1843, predicting when the next sunspot cycle will appear, and how strong it will be, has been a cottage industry among scientists and non-scientists alike.


Why Phi? – modelling the solar cycle

Posted: August 27, 2016 by oldbrew in solar system dynamics
Tags: ,


We’re familiar with the idea of the solar cycle, e.g.:
‘The solar cycle or solar magnetic activity cycle is the nearly periodic 11-year change in the Sun’s activity (including changes in the levels of solar radiation and ejection of solar material) and appearance (changes in the number of sunspots, flares, and other manifestations).

They have been observed (by changes in the sun’s appearance and by changes seen on Earth, such as auroras) for centuries.’

Here we’ll try a bit of pattern-hunting, so to speak.


James Marusek’s paper says: I propose two mechanisms primarily responsible for Little Ice Age climatic conditions. These two components are Cloud Theory and Wind Theory.

Thanks to Paul Homewood for bringing this to our attention.

[Click on ‘view original post’ below to find a link to the full paper].


By Paul Homewood


James Marusek has sent me his latest paper, Little Ice Age Theory.

Excerpts below:


The sun is undergoing a state change. It is possible that we may be at the cusp of the next Little Ice Age. For several centuries the relationship between periods of quiet sun and a prolonged brutal cold climate on Earth (referred to as Little Ice Ages) have been recognized. But the exact mechanisms behind this relationship have remained a mystery. We exist in an age of scientific enlightenment, equipped with modern tools to measure subtle changes with great precision. Therefore it is important to try and come to grips with these natural climatic drivers and mold the evolution of theories that describe the mechanisms behind Little Ice Ages.

The sun changes over time. There are decadal periods when the sun is very active magnetically, producing many sunspots. These periods are referred…

View original post 784 more words

A bit less of this to look forward to? [image credit:]

A bit less of this to look forward to? [image credit:]

Some solar theories will be put to the test in the next few decades by the Sun’s ongoing behaviour patterns.

Is Earth slowly heading for a new ice age? Looking at the decreasing number of sunspots, it may seem that we are entering a nearly spotless solar cycle which could result in lower temperatures for decades. “The solar cycle is starting to decline. Now we have less active regions visible on the sun’s disk,” Yaireska M. Collado-Vega, a space weather forecaster at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, told

But does it really mean a colder climate for our planet in the near future? In 1645, the so-called Maunder Minimum period started, when there were almost no sunspots. It lasted for 70 years and coincided with the well-known “Little Ice Age”, when Europe and North America experienced lower-than-average temperatures. However, the theory that decreased solar activity caused the climate change is still controversial as no convincing evidence has been shown to prove this correlation.


The 'before' version of sunspot numbers [Credit: Wikipedia]

The ‘before’ version of sunspot numbers [Credit: Wikipedia]

This result has been at least half-expected ever since the ‘revision’ of sunspot numbers was announced. The phrase ‘desired outcome’ springs to mind.

The Sunspot Number is a crucial tool used to study the solar dynamo, space weather and climate change, reports It has now been recalibrated and shows a consistent history of solar activity over the past few centuries. The new record has no significant long-term upward trend in solar activity since 1700, as was previously indicated. This suggests that rising global temperatures since the industrial revolution cannot be attributed to increased solar activity.

The analysis, its results and its implications for climate research were made public today at a press briefing at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) XXIX General Assembly, currently taking place in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.


What happened to the sunspots?

Posted: July 14, 2015 by oldbrew in Solar physics

Giant sunspot group AR1944 in January 2014. [Credit: NASA/SDO]

Giant sunspot group AR1944 in January 2014. [Credit: NASA/SDO]

Communities Digital News explains:

On June 30, 2015 the globally recognized maximum for the current 11-year sunspot cycle was 81.9. On July 1, 2015 that number suddenly leaped all the way up to 116.4!

Stranger still, the current cycle (Cycle 24) fell from being the 7th weakest sunspot maximum since 1749 to being the 4th weakest sunspot maximum. Cycle 24’s sunspot number jumped by 30 percent, yet its ranking dropped by three places. How can that be?


[Image credit: NASA]

[Image credit: NASA]

Another solar theory rolls off the production line – as ever, time will tell if it lives up to its own billing.

A new model of the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat suggests that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s, dropping to conditions last seen during the Maunder minimum, reports Ice Age Now.

Beginning in about 1645, the Maunder minimum corresponded with the severest portion of the last
“Little Ice Age.”


A solar 'prominence' [credit: NASA]

A solar ‘prominence’ [credit: NASA]

Not being an expert in such matters I turn to NASA for a brief explanation of terms:

‘The primary source of energy to the Earth is radiant energy from the Sun. This radiant energy is measured and reported as the solar irradiance. When all of the radiation is measured it is called the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI); when measured as a function of wavelength it is the spectral irradiance.’
NASA – Solar Irradiance

The abstract of a new paper suggests there’s a need to take a lot more notice of ‘SSI’ compared to ‘TSI’.
Note in particular its last sentence
‘Therefore, it appears that SSI rather than TSI is a good indicator of the chromospheric activity, and its cycle length dependent variation would be more relevant to the possible role of the Sun in the cyclic variation of the Earth’s atmosphere.’


The Sun from NASA's SDO spacecraft

The Sun from NASA’s SDO spacecraft

According to new research entitled: “The crucial role of surface magnetic fields for the solar dynamo”, a prediction method for solar cycles, first proposed decades ago, has been validated:
‘As the dipole field [of the Sun] is the source of the toroidal field of the next cycle, its strength should be a measure of the activity of the next cycle.’ reports:
Sunspots, bursts of radiation and violent eruptions are signs that our sun is permanently active. Researchers have long known that this activity varies in a cycle of around eleven years’ duration. Even if many questions are still unresolved, one thing is certain: magnetic fields which emerge on the surface of our sun from within its depths are the cause of the manifold activities.

Robert Cameron and Manfred Schüssler from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen have now proved that it is possible to deduce what the internal mechanism is simply by observing the magnetic processes on the surface. This even allows predictions to be made about the strength of a forthcoming activity cycle.


My thanks to Ian Wilson for an update on his tidal-torquing model, which relates the motion of Venus, Earth and Jupiter to changes in sunspot numbers and the flows observed on the Solar surface. This elegant solution looks very promising in terms of forecasting solar variation, as well as offering a hypothesis explaining a mechanism underlying the strong correlations between solar variation and planetary motion. The following article is reposted from Ian’s excellent blog.

Ian Wilson : November 2012

The problem with the collective blog postings about the
Spin-Orbit Coupling or Tidal-Torquing Model that are described
at the end of this post is that they only look at the tidal-torquing
(i.e. the pushing and pulling of Jupiter upon the Venus-Earth
tidal bulge in the Solar convective zone) when Venus and Earth
are inferior conjunction (i.e. when Venus and Earth are on the
same side of the Sun). However, a tidal bulge is also produced
when Venus and the Earth align on opposites sides of the Sun,
as well (i.e at superior conjunction).

This means that in the real world, tidal bulges are induced in
the convective layer of the Sun once every 0.8 years rather
than every 1.6 years, as assumed in the original basic model.
This is achieved by a sequence of alternating conjunctions
of Venus and the Earth:


A lot of people are puzzled by the current El Niño. Global average Sea Surface Temperature (SST) has been high, but we don’t seem to have the balmy winters of ten years ago. My simple model explains why.

Temperature reconstructed from solar and planetary motion

The graph compares sea surface temperature HADsst2GL (red curve), with curves generated from solar and planetary data.

The black curve uses a combination of Length of Day (LOD) data and sunspot number data. The monthly sunspot number values are added cumulatively as positive or negative values departing from my estimated ocean equilibrium value of ~40SSN. The LOD values are added via a simple best fit scaling technique using a hghly sensitive piece of equipment called tallbloke’s eyeball.

The yellow curve uses the sunspot numbers again, but instead of LOD data, I use the fact that LOD variation approximately correlates with variation in the distance of the solar system centre of mass in the ‘z’-axis from the solar equatorial plane (SSB-z) and substitute in those values instead as a scaled LOD proxy.

The green curve goes the whole hog. Since the SSB-z data can also be used as a proxy for sunspot numbers (on a different smoothing and lag value to the LOD proxy), it is used both for sunspot proxy and LOD proxy. This enables me to reconstruct past and predict future planetary surface temperatures, to a limited degree of accuracy.

There are a couple of obvious problems. The method does not capture individual El Niño events well. Nor does it predict individual big volcanos, although the volcanic explosivity index does correlate well with the motion of the planets, as I will show in a future post. One further problem is that the technique does not capture the collapse in solar activity which seems to occur when Uranus and Neptune are in conjunction, as at 1800-1840 during the Dalton Minimum, and during the Maunder minimum in the 1630’s . Whether we will see a similar deep solar minimum now following the conjunction of these two planets in 1993 remains to be seen.

The large departure of my reconstruction from the SST data around the WWII years is I believe due to well known issues with the switchover from bucket and thermometer measurements to ship engine cooling intake sensors on military vessels.

So, the basic premise of my model, is that a cumulative count of sunspots above and below the ocean equilibrium value I have determined will mimic the retention and release of energy from the ocean. At the same time, multi-decadal changes in Earth’s length of day which also correlate with the timings and sign of the major oceanic periodicities (PDO, AMO) add detail to the picture.

The high SSN of the late C20th means according to my model, that a lot of heat got absorbed into the ocean. Now the sunspot numbers are falling, that heat is being released again by El Niño’s and the temperature is dropping because that heat is escaping to space and not being replaced by solar energy into the oceans at the rate it was in the ’80’s and ’90’s. I have done calcs on this to support my theory and I will present them soon.

Comments please.

Here’s a prediction graph I produced a little while ago which seems to be more or less on course:



It uses the fact that changes in Earth’s length of day seem to precede changes in solar magnetism and sunspot production by several years. The yellow curve was generated by combining Sunspot data with LOD data to create a prediction for Ap out to 2015. The recent burst of sunspot activity has arrived on cue.

Here’s another graph which shows a possible correlation between sunspot activity averaged over the length of the solar cycle, and motion of the solar system’s centre of mass relative to the solar equatorial plane averaged over two Jupiter orbital periods:

Sunspots graphed against SSBz-solar equator

What caused the collapse in solar activity at the start of the 1800’s known as the Dalton minimum? Could it be the conjunction of Uranus and Neptune which seems to accompany each of the grand minima? Does that mean we are due another one now?  I’ll investigate that in another post soon.

Why does the average sunspot number fall when the average mass of the planets is heading south? Speculatively,  could it be that the ‘lensing’ of an electro-magnetic effect emanating from the galactic centre diminishes when the planets are ‘on the wrong side of the sun’?

Answers on a postcard, or post your thoughts below.

Our friend Vukevic called by and gave me a pointer to a links page at his site which provides a resource for those interested in studying planetary, solar and magnetic phenomena.

Here’s an example demonstrating the match between the sunspot number and Vuk’s planetary motion derived formulas:

Hopefully, Vuk will call back to give us some further info on his research.

Well, this guy has beaten the rest of us to the scoop. A small number of researchers including Geoff Sharp, Gerry Pease, Ian Wilson, Ray Tomes, Ulric Lyons, Gray Stevens, Milivoje Vukevic, Paul Vaughan and myself have been working away on the motion of the planets with respect to the solar system barycentre and various  interesting orbital periodicities and resonances. We’ve all found remarkable correlations between various phenomena which hint at a planetary effect on the suns behaviour.

Now Petr Semi Semerad has pulled a lot of things together and discovered the key to the holy grail: the resonances matching the sunspot cycle. But more than that, he has filled the cup to overflowing with a rare vintage of observations which will be keeping us all busy for a long time to come.

Earth - Venus - Jupiter cycle

Earth - Venus - Jupiter cycle

Figure 88 -Earth-Venus-Jupiter cycle compared to Signed Sunspot counts
Series in the chart on fig. 88 are:
– Orange – Real data – Signed sunspot counts (every other cycle is negative or positive)
All other series are computed (from ephemerides), at times of Earth-Venus opposition only:
– Bold green (which matches the Sunspot frequency) – Half of angle between Jupiter and Earth (or to EVB, with center in Sun) during Earth-Venus oppositions, multiplied (scaled vertically) by sinus of Uranus-Neptune angle at these times (to match cycle damping arround 1820 and 1910 of the Gleissberg cycle…The Uranus-Neptune cycle of 178.5 years seems to match the length of twice the Gleissberg cycle, observed in the Sunspot data.)
The damping arround 1650 (little ice age) and unexpectedly large values arround 1990 are due to another influences (matches cycle of overall angular momentum change, see relevant chapter)
– Purple series :  Uranus/Neptune cycle. To avoid a sinus-like symmetric appearance, the angle between those
planets is multiplied by their relative velocity…
– Pink background serie – Tidal angle between Mercury and Jupiter at times of Earth-Venus oppositions.
– Outer blue serie – with connected maximums to show its envelope (see also fig. 89) – Tidal angle between Earth-Venus barycenter and Jupiter, with added or subtracted (with less importance) the Tidal angle between Jupiter and Mercury.
– Bold blue dots at X axis – historical record of “severe winters” in central Europe.

Earth-Moon system angular momentum relative to sunspot cycle

Earth-Moon system angular momentum relative to sunspot cycle
Download, read and enjoy!

h/t to French-Canadian blogger Simon Filiatrault