Three Weeks Without Sunspots

As July 17th comes to a close, the sun has been blank for 21 straight days–a remarkable 3 weeks without sunspots. To find an equal stretch of spotless suns in the historical record, you have to go back to July-August 2009 when the sun was emerging from a century-class solar minimum. We are now entering a new solar minimum, possibly as deep as the last one.


Solar minimum is a normal part of the solar cycle. Every 11 years or so, sunspot production sputters. Dark cores that produce solar flares and CMEs vanish from the solar disk, leaving the sun blank for long stretches of time. These quiet spells have been coming with regularity since the sunspot cycle was discovered in 1859.

However, not all solar minima are alike. The last one in 2008-2009 surprised observers with its depth and side-effects. Sunspot counts dropped to a 100-year low; the sun dimmed by 0.1%; Earth’s upper atmosphere collapsed, allowing space junk to accumulate; and the pressure of the solar wind flagged while cosmic rays (normally repelled by solar wind) surged to Space Age highs. These events upended the orthodox picture of solar minimum as “uneventful.”

Rest of the article at


8 thoughts on “Three Weeks Without Sunspots

  1. The Atmosphere Guy August 4, 2018 / 1:34 am

    Been an interesting summer, certainly in Europe, with much media hysteria about temperatures, drought and ‘Global Warming’. Springtime, in many parts was, by contrast, cold and wet.
    So why – can we have a stab at a rational analysis. We know sunspots have bottomed out but so, interestingly, has non-spot activity. This has led to a significant contraction of the upper atmosphere, weakening the jet stream structure and allowing the ‘Sea /Land Differential’ to become the dominant factor. Once weather patterns become locked to this layout, they tend to become self reinforcing, self perpetuating. The longer they are there, the more stable the wind patterns and the higher the temperatures, the more stable the structure. This can also work in the opposite phase as we have seen in the past.
    Be interesting to see what kind of winter follows, if low overall activity continues it could get very cold. Predictions could also be blown out of the water if activity suddenly increases!

    • Russ Steele August 6, 2018 / 3:11 pm

      It looks like the La Niña is backing off and we will have a El Niño by mid winter. If so we should have a wet winter in the Southwest. With sea surface temps falling it may be cold wet winter. Stay tuned, we live in interesting times.

  2. The Atmosphere Guy August 22, 2018 / 3:45 am

    We will all remember the severity of the Hurricane season last year; by contrast this year has been unusually quiet. If we look for an explanation, a reason for the variation among the available data the one thing that jumps out is the sharp spike in ‘Ap’ activity – just at the ‘wrong’ moment – August, September and into October last year. By comparison, this year has been very flat; the monthly August average should be around 6-7 compared to this time last year when isolated spikes of 30 or more when common.
    We can consider a tropical storm to be a large, rotating electro mechanical ‘device’; if we bombard that ‘device’ with significant electro-magnetic fields, we should expect to see some reaction. A discussion document on that effect may be found here …
    Overall atmospheric profiles obviously initiated the storms, development may then have resulted from the effects noted.
    Under the principles of the Russell-Mcpherron effect we may expect to see an increase in activity around the Equinox; it seems likely to be quiet at the moment but this can always change.

    • The Atmosphere Guy September 1, 2018 / 7:50 am

      NOAA is reporting that “…This is the first August since 1997 to have zero tropical storm formations in the
      Atlantic basin south of 30N.” It is noted that 1997 was in the trough of the 30 year Ap index cycle. This parallels well with the current Ap flat period. Discussion here …
      We may get some increase in activity following the solar storm 26th Aug.

      • Russ Steele September 2, 2018 / 1:14 pm

        According to Joe Bastardi’s weekly summary, September is going to be a big tropical storm month. He has shown the developing pressure patterns are moving into a place which encourages tropical storms. Check out the summary at, Saturday Summary.

  3. The Atmosphere Guy September 18, 2018 / 7:37 am

    We certainly did get “… some increase in activity following the solar storm …” the first week in September will be remembered for all the wrong reasons! This has now faded to the previous quiet state along with the decline in solar activity.
    It lends credence to the concept that solar activity is a major driving force in storm intensity, and the idea that the coincidence of the peak in cyclonic storm activity and that of the Russell – McPherron effect is significant.
    NOAA are reporting that “…Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), ….. thus far in 2018 has been below normal.’ as has solar activity – with the exception of the noted outburst.
    We watch developments with more than a little interest!

    • Russ Steele September 19, 2018 / 11:28 am

      Interesting connection, please keep us informed It might be interesting to see if the years of highest ACE were years of the high sunspot or CME activity.

  4. The Atmosphere Guy October 10, 2018 / 1:49 am

    Perhaps relevant to note that the sharp burst of ‘Kp’ activity (Kp5) recorded 7th/8th October 2018 was followed by an identifiable increase in Atlantic/Pacific Hurricane activity 9th/10th October. NHC reports – “… LESLIE BECOMES A HURRICANE AGAIN … MICHAEL BECOMES CATEGORY 4 … NADINE STRONGER … SERGIO ACCELERATING..” (10thOcober 2018).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s