Posts Tagged ‘sunspots’

Ionized gas inside the Sun moves toward the poles near the surface and toward the equator at the base of the convection zone (at a depth of 200,000 km/125,000 miles).
Credit: MPS (Z.-C. Liang)

The title of the study cited in this report gives us the clue: ‘Meridional flow in the Sun’s convection zone is a single cell in each hemisphere’. The full cycle takes about 22 years on average, with a magnetic reversal halfway through.
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The sun’s magnetic activity follows an 11-year cycle. Over the course of a solar cycle, the sun’s magnetic activity comes and goes, says

During solar maximum, large sunspots and active regions appear on the sun’s surface. Spectacular loops of hot plasma stretch throughout the sun’s atmosphere and eruptions of particles and radiation shoot into interplanetary space.

During solar minimum, the sun calms down considerably. A striking regularity appears in the so-called butterfly diagram, which describes the position of sunspots in a time-latitude plot.


Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

The researchers’ sun clock looks like this.
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Extreme space weather events can significantly impact systems such as satellites, communications systems, power distribution and aviation, says a Warwick University press release.

They are driven by solar activity which is known to have an irregular but roughly 11 year cycle.

By devising a new, regular ‘sun clock’, researchers have found that the switch on and off of periods of high solar activity is quite sharp, and are able to determine the switch on/off times.

Their analysis shows that whilst extreme events can happen at any time, they are much less likely to occur in the quiet interval.


Two Solar Cycles Active at Once

Posted: April 28, 2020 by oldbrew in Cycles, solar system dynamics
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Cycle 25 preparing to topple Cycle 24.

April 27, 2020: Today, there are two sunspots in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Their magnetic polarity reveals something interesting: They come from different solar cycles. Take a look at this magnetic map of the sun’s surface (with sunspots inset) from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:


One sunspot (AR2760) belongs to old Solar Cycle 24, while the other (AR2761) belongs to new Solar Cycle 25. We know this because of Hale’s polarity law. AR2760 is +/- while AR2761 is -/+, reversed signs that mark them as belonging to different cycles.

This is actually normal. Solar cycles always overlap at their boundaries, sprinkling Solar Minimum with a mixture of old- and new-cycle sunspots. Sometimes, like today, they pop up simultaneously. We might see more such combinations in the months ahead as we slowly grind our way through one of the deepest Solar Minima in a century.

The simultaneous appearance of two solar…

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When we had ‘the pause’ it was claimed to be a temporary blip, despite lasting for well over a decade. An even longer period of non-warming would be needed to convince doubters aka IPCC-backed alarmists that their climate models don’t work, or at least nowhere near as well as they would like to think.
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We are moving into one of the biggest scientific experiments of all time, says The GWPF.

Since the invention of the telescope, the Sun’s activity has been recorded by counting the number of sunspots on its surface. 

According to these records, the number of sunspots rises and falls in an eleven year cycle. 

But scientists have detected a change in the most recent cycle.


The linked article contains more video material and images.
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In February 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory—SDO—is celebrating its 10th year in space, reports

Over the past decade the spacecraft has kept a constant eye on the sun, studying how the sun creates solar activity and drives space weather—the dynamic conditions in space that impact the entire solar system, including Earth.

Since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO has collected millions of scientific images of our nearest star, giving scientists new insights into its workings.

SDO’s measurements of the sun—from the interior to the atmosphere, magnetic field, and energy output—have greatly contributed to our understanding of our closest star.

SDO’s images have also become iconic—if you’ve ever seen a close up of activity on the sun, it was likely from an SDO image.

SDO’s long career in space has allowed it to witness nearly an entire solar cycle—the sun’s 11-year cycle of activity.

Here are a few highlights of SDO’s accomplishments over the years.

Volcanic eruption

How good is the evidence for such a connection, and what theories do we have? Does a really low solar minimum – like now – make a difference? Here’s PW’s overview of its article.

Over the long term, the sun is the main driver of weather and climate on Earth and it is also directly connected to such phenomenon as the aurora borealis also known as the northern lights, upper atmospheric “high-latitude blocking”, and the influx of cosmic rays into Earth’s atmosphere, says Perspecta Weather.

The aurora borealis tends to occur more often during times of increased solar activity though they can actually take place at any time of a solar cycle.


Sunspots set a Space Age Record

Posted: December 20, 2019 by oldbrew in Solar physics
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The switch to solar cycle 25 must be getting close, if not here already.

Dec. 17, 2019: Solar Minimum is becoming very deep indeed. Over the weekend, the sun set a Space Age record for spotlessness. So far in 2019, the sun has been without sunspots for more than 271 days, including the last 34 days in a row. Since the Space Age began, no other year has had this many blank suns.

Above: The blank sun on Dec. 16, 2019. Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

The previous record-holder was the year 2008, when the sun was blank for 268 days. That was during the epic Solar Minimum of 2008-2009, formerly the deepest of the Space Age. Now 2019 has moved into first place.

Solar Minimum is a normal part of the 11-year sunspot cycle. The past two (2008-2009 and 2018-2019) have been long and deep, making them “century-class” Minima. To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go back to…

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Mr Yoshimura would agree…

Posted: October 22, 2019 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, Cycles
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…with the period of ~2500 years in our 2015 blog post: Why Phi? – Jupiter, Saturn and the de Vries cycle (we use 2503y).

Or he might do, if he had read it. More correctly, we agree with him.

In the second paragraph of the introduction in his article of December 1978 in the Astrophysical Journal, which has a rather long title related to the solar cycle, he writes:


H/T The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF).

An interview with Professor Valentina Zharkova on the effect of solar activity on terrestrial climate – from Conversations That Matter, with Stuart McNish.

The sun is going through a stage known as a solar or Maunder Minimum. This is where the solar activity that ignites solar flares or sun spots has decreased.

It’s a normal cycle and one that has been linked to the mini ice age that lasted more than 50 years starting in the mid-1600s.


A Summer without Sunspots

Posted: September 28, 2019 by oldbrew in Solar physics
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Solar cycle 24 – going, going…

Sept. 23, 2019: Could northern summer 2019 go down in history as “the summer without sunspots”? From June 21st until Sept 22nd, the sun was blank more than 89% of the time. During the entire season only 6 tiny sunspots briefly appeared, often fading so quickly that readers would complain to, “you’ve labeled a sunspot that doesn’t exist!” (No, it just disappeared.) Not a single significant solar flare was detected during this period of extreme quiet.

The sun on Sept. 22, 2019–as blank as a billiard ball. Credit: NASA/SDO

This is a sign that Solar Minimum is underway and probably near its deepest point. For 2019 overall (January through September), the sun has been blank 72% of the time, comparable to annual averages during the century-class Solar Minimum of 2008 (73%) and 2009 (71%). The current Solar Minimum appears to be century-class as well, meaning you have to go…

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Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

Here it’s claimed that the model matches the observations, which is surely a good start in any research. With a deep solar minimum now in progress, theorists should have plenty of new data to work with.

For 400 years people have tracked sunspots, the dark patches that appear for weeks at a time on the sun’s surface, says

They have observed but been unable to explain why the number of spots peaks every 11 years.

A University of Washington study published this month in the journal Physics of Plasmas proposes a model of plasma motion that would explain the 11-year sunspot cycle and several other previously mysterious properties of the sun.

“Our model is completely different from a normal picture of the sun,” said first author Thomas Jarboe, a UW professor of aeronautics and astronautics. “I really think we’re the first people that are telling you the nature and source of solar magnetic phenomena—how the sun works.”


Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

This looks timely as predictions of the possibly imminent – or not – start of solar cycle 25 jockey for position, so to speak. Is there a new and better method here?

In a pair of new papers, scientists paint a picture of how solar cycles suddenly die, potentially causing tsunamis of plasma to race through the Sun’s interior and trigger the birth of the next sunspot cycle only a few short weeks later, reports EurekAlert.

The new findings provide insight into the mysterious timing of sunspot cycles, which are marked by the waxing and waning of sunspot activity on the solar surface.

While scientists have long known that these cycles last approximately 11 years, predicting when one cycle ends and the next begins has been challenging to pin down with any accuracy. The new research could change that.

In one of the studies, which relies on nearly 140 years of solar observations from the ground and space, the scientists are able to identify “terminator” events that clearly mark the end of a sunspot cycle.


A Sunspot from the Next Solar Cycle

Posted: July 11, 2019 by oldbrew in Astronomy, Solar physics

The transition from solar cycle 24 to 25 is…out there somewhere. But it seems AR2744 is likely to become known as ‘the first official sunspot of Solar Cycle 25.’

July 8, 2019: Solar Cycle 25 is coming to life. For the second time this month, a sunspot from the next solar cycle has emerged in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Numbered “AR2744”, it is inset in this magnetic map of the sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

How do we know this sunspot belongs to Solar Cycle 25? Its magnetic polarity tells us so. Southern sunspots from old Solar Cycle 24 have a -/+ polarity. This sunspot is the opposite: +/-. According to Hale’s Law, sunspots switch polarities from one solar cycle to the next. AR2744 is therefore a member of Solar Cycle 25.

Solar cycles always mix together at their boundaries. Right now we are experiencing the tail end of decaying Solar Cycle 24. AR2744 shows that we are simultaneously experiencing the first stirrings of Solar Cycle 25. The transition between Solar Cycle 24 and Solar Cycle…

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Credit: PAR @ Wikipedia

This looks significant, pointing directly at solar influences on climate patterns. The researchers found evidence that atmosphere-ocean coupling can amplify the solar signal, having detected that wind anomalies could not be explained by radiative considerations alone.

An international team of researchers from United Kingdom, Denmark, and Germany has found robust evidence for signatures of the 11-year sunspot cycle in the tropical Pacific, reports

They analyzed historical time series of pressure, surface winds and precipitation with specific focus on the Walker Circulation—a vast system of atmospheric flow in the tropical Pacific region that affects patterns of tropical rainfall.

They have revealed that during periods of increased solar irradiance, the trade winds weaken and the Walker circulation shifts eastward.


Solar tsunami can trigger the sunspot cycle

Posted: March 17, 2019 by oldbrew in Cycles, research
Tags: ,

Sunspots [image credit: NASA]

Something else for solar theorists to ponder. The researchers say: ‘We have demonstrated here a physical mechanism, the solar tsunami, which gives birth to the new cycle’s sunspots precisely within a few weeks from the cessation of old cycle’s spots.’

According to the model, the next sunspot cycle can be expected to begin in 2020, says The Hindu.

It is believed that the “solar dynamo” — a naturally occurring generator which produces electric and magnetic fields in the sun — is linked to the production of sunspots.

What kick-starts the 11-year sunspot cycle is not known. Now, a group of solar physicists suggests that a “solar tsunami” is at work that triggers the new sunspot cycle, after the old one ends.


Quiet sun [image credit: NASA]

In which we are informed that the Maunder Minimum was ‘an incident’, warming is due to ‘climate change’, and solar cycle 25 may not start until 2020.

Some fear that we could be heading to another Little Ice Age, but scientists say that’s unlikely, reports CBC News.

The sun is quiet … very quiet. In February, for the first time since August 2008, the sun went an entire month without any sunspots.

What does this mean for Earth?


What effects might this have on so-called ‘climate change’? The next few years could be interesting as lower solar activity displaces the higher activity of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Feb. 21, 2019:Cosmic rays in the stratosphere are intensifying for the 4th year in a row. This finding comes from a campaign of almost weekly high-altitude balloon launches conducted by the students of Earth to Sky Calculus. Since March 2015, there has been a ~13% increase in X-rays and gamma-rays over central California, where the students have launched hundreds of balloons.


The grey points in the graph are Earth to Sky balloon data. Overlaid on that time series is a record of neutron monitor data from the Sodankyla Geophysical Observatory in Oulu, Finland. The correlation between the two data sets is impressive, especially considering their wide geographic separation and differing methodologies. Neutron monitors have long been considered a “gold standard” for monitoring cosmic rays on Earth. This shows that our student-built balloons are gathering data of similar quality.

Why are cosmic rays increasing? The short answer is “Solar…

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Credit: BBC

Interesting result here, although they do admit: ‘The exact mechanism by which the solar signal influences precipitation is still largely unclear and requires further research.’ But the observations have been made.

Source: The GWPF

A balanced level of precipitation provides the basis for a wide range of economic and social activities in Europe. Particularly agriculture, drinking water supply and inland waterway transport are directly affected.

However, the amount of rain fluctuates strongly from year to year. While it may pour torrentially in one year, rain may remain absent for weeks in another year. The population is used to this variability and knows how to deal with it.

The chance discovery by an agricultural scientist from Münster, Germany, now suggests that in certain months rain over Germany and other parts of Europe follows a pattern that up to now has remained undetected.


As the ‘official’ (IPCC, Met Office etc.) view insists that more warming lies ahead, other analysts foresee significant cooling. Clearly, somebody has to be wrong.

The Next Grand Minimum

Definition — cusp: a point of transition between two different states

The transition from the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age was punctuated by extreme climate events, intense storms, floods, and droughts according to Lynn Ingram and Francis Malamud-Roam writing in The West Without Water. According to the authors, the transition from the Little Ice Age to the Modern Warm Period also experienced erratic weather extremes. Wolfgang Behringer, writing in the Cultural History of Climate, found similar transitions to more extreme weather. These extreme record-setting events are a signal that the overall climate is moving to a different state, in other words on the cusp of climate change.

Some recent record events:

Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido: Record cold temperatures, minus 24.4 C, the lowest seen since it began compiling such data in 1957.

Seattle: Coldest February in 30 years, the 4th coldest in 75 years, the…

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During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s corona and prominences are visible to the naked eye [image credit: Luc Viatour / ]

The Sun continues to pose questions for scientists, such as the way solar cycle variability works and the surprisingly intense heat of its corona, compared to its surface.

A team of scientists who collected numerous observations of last summer’s total solar eclipse via telescopes and electronic cameras has used the data to better understand motions within the solar corona, the Sun’s outer atmosphere, says Space Reporter.

Jay Pasachoff of Williams College in Williamstown, MA, who led the team in observing the eclipse in Salem, Oregon, presented their findings to the 232nd Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in early June.

His team has observed numerous solar eclipses during various times in the 11-year sunspot cycle.