Two Sunspots From Solar Cycle-25

Spaceweather.com has the details HERE.

Solar Cycle 25 really is coming. Today, for the first time, there are two new-cycle sunspots on the solar disk–one in each hemisphere. This map of solar magnetic fields from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows their location:

magnetogram_strip

We know these sunspots belong to the next solar cycle because of their magnetic polarity. Simply put, they are backwards. According to Hale’s Law, sunspot polarities flip-flop from one solar cycle to the next. During old Solar Cycle 24, we grew accustomed to sunspots in the sun’s southern hemisphere having a -/+ pattern. However, look at today’s southern sunspot:

newspot_strip

It is the opposite: +/-. This identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 25.

Likewise, today’s northern sunspot has a reversed polarity compared to northern spots from old Solar Cycle 24. It, too, therefore, belongs to Solar Cycle 25.

The sun is currently in Solar Minimum–the nadir of the 11-year sunspot cycle. It’s a deep Minimum, century-class according to sunspot counts. The scarcity of sunspots has been so remarkable that it has prompted discussion of a possible “extended Minimum” akin to the Maunder Minimum of the 17th century when sunspots were absent for decades. Such an event could have implications for terrestrial climate.

Today’s new-cycle sunspots (along with isolatednew-cycle spots earlier this year) suggest that the solar cycle is, in fact, unfolding normally. A new Maunder Minimum does not appear to be in the offing. Forecasters expect Solar Cycle 25 to slowly gain strength in the years ahead and reach a peak in July 2025.

Your thoughts.  The Maunder Minimum was not observed with the technology available today, small spots like these could have been missed. What do you think?

NOAA Signs With Three Cloud Companies to Provide Free Access to Its Data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a new milestone in its big data program, enabling more access to its ever-growing troves of data in the hopes of sparking new economies and a better understanding of our environment.

The agency launched the Big Data Project as a way to push the petabytes of data it collects daily out to people who could use it. The program is based on the idea that NOAA—and the Commerce Department in general—collects the sort of data that is of interest to researchers and entrepreneurs alike.

NOAA penned a deal in 2015 with five cloud service providers to develop a pipeline for its data to be stored in those cloud providers’ systems, then be made available to the public at no cost. While the partners are not allowed to charge for access to the data, they could charge for value-added content, in much the way weather data is used by industry today.

On Thursday, NOAA announced awards to Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft under multiyear contracts to host NOAA data for public use.

“The Big Data Project’s cloud service providers have shown incredible commitment to open data principles, and they clearly understand the value of NOAA’s data to their customers and to the Nation’s economy,” Ed Kearns, acting chief data officer at the Commerce Department, said in a statement Thursday.

Source: NextGov.com

 

NOAA Signs With Three Cloud Companies to Provide Free Access to Its Data.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced a new milestone in its big data program, enabling more access to its ever-growing troves of data in the hopes of sparking new economies and a better understanding of our environment.

The agency launched the Big Data Project as a way to push the petabytes of data it collects daily out to people who could use it. The program is based on the idea that NOAA—and the Commerce Department in general—collects the sort of data that is of interest to researchers and entrepreneurs alike.

NOAA penned a deal in 2015 with five cloud service providers to develop a pipeline for its data to be stored in those cloud providers’ systems, then be made available to the public at no cost. While the partners are not allowed to charge for access to the data, they could charge for value-added content, in much the way weather data is used by industry today.

On Thursday, NOAA announced awards to Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft under multiyear contracts to host NOAA data for public use.

“The Big Data Project’s cloud service providers have shown incredible commitment to open data principles, and they clearly understand the value of NOAA’s data to their customers and to the Nation’s economy,” Ed Kearns, acting chief data officer at the Commerce Department, said in a statement Thursday.

Source: NextGov.com

 

Solar Update December 2019

Reblogged from Watts Up With That

David Archibald

We are well into the Solar Cycle 24/25 minimum but 24 may not have ended yet. A solar cycle isn’t over until the heliospheric current sheet has flattened. And that could be as late as March 2021. Solar cycle amplitude does matter with respect to climate and the amplitude of Solar Cycle 25, from projecting trends from the last three cycles, looks like being about 80 in 2027.

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Figure 1: F10.7 flux 2014 to 2019

The F10.7 flux has been flat for a couple of years now. What is interesting is that a low of 63.4 was recorded on 21st October, which may be a low for the instrumental record. Since then the F10.7 has been in a narrow range from 68 to 70.

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Figure 2: Heliospheric current sheet tilt angle 1976 to 2019

The solar cycle isn’t over until the heliospheric current sheet tilt angle has flattened and as at Carrington rotation 2224, the tilt angle was still a few degrees from having flattened. If the date of flattening is constrained by the slope of the decline from the cycle peak then the latest date for flattening is March 2021.

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Figure 3: Ap Index 1980 – 2019

This figure shows the break in the Ap Index in 2006 at the end of the Modern Warm Period to the New Cold Period. It also shows the relationship between month of heliospheric current sheet flattening (red arrows) and the month of minimum as determined by the low in sunspot activity (green arrows) which is far more subjective.

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Figure 4: Aligned heliospheric current sheet tilt angle by month of minimum

Solar Cycle 23 was stronger for longer while Solar Cycle 24 is largely tracking 21 and 22, suggesting the end may be soon.

clip_image010Figure 5: Solar hemispheric sunspot area and F10.7 flux 1985 – 2019

This figure is included to show that solar activity, as measured by the F10.7 flux, is directly proportional to the sum of the sunspot areas of the solar northern and southern hemispheres. Sunspot number is proportional to F10.7 flux but is a less precise measure.

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Figure 6: Sunspot area by solar hemisphere 1985 to 2019

In this figure the hemispheric sunspot areas are plotted individually instead of cumulatively. What is readily apparent is that each hemisphere has been driven by its own trend in activity – the peaks of both cycles all line up. Which begs the question of what will happen if those trends in activity continue? In Solar Cycle 24 the peak of northern hemispheric activity occurred three years before that of the southern hemisphere. If that repeats in Solar Cycle 25 with the amplitude of each hemisphere constrained by the blue trend lines, then the northern hemisphere would peak in 2024 with an amplitude of 200 millionths of the solar hemispheric area and the southern hemisphere would peak in 2027 with an amplitude of 600 millionths of the solar hemispheric area. For the whole solar cycle, the peak amplitude would be in 2027 with a smoothed sunspot number of 80, down a third from Solar Cycle 24.

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Figure 7: Sunspot area by hemisphere 1874 to 1924

This figure is included to show that trends in hemispheric sunspot activity can hold for nearly four solar cycles as shown by the southern solar hemisphere (red line) from the late 19th century.

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Figure 8: Oulu Neutron Count 1964 to 2019

This is the main part of where the rubber meets the road in terms of the effect of solar activity on climate. Weaker solar activity, as is predicted for Solar Cycle 25, means that more galactic cosmic rays make it into the inner planets of the solar system instead of being pushed away by the Sun’s magnetic flux carried on the solar wind. The shower of neutrons in the lower atmosphere increases and provides more nucleation sites for cloud droplets. The increased cloud cover reflects more sunlight and the Earth cools. The peak in neutron flux may be as late as 2022.

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Figure 9: North Dakota December 3, 2019

The economic consequences of a cooling Earth are shown in this figure of part of a satellitephoto of a rural area of North Dakota taken on December 3, 2019. White is snow and the brown rectangles are unharvested corn. In NASA’s words:

“a wet fall, combined with corn plants that contained too much moisture, provoked famers to leave the corn in the fields this year. Snow on corn stocks can clog harvesting equipment. But the bigger concern is the moisture content. It is more economically prudent for a farmer to wait and let the corn dry on the stalks—harvesting it in February or early March—than it is to harvest it now and have to dry it in storage facilities.”

 

New Sunspot Space Age Record

Reposted from spacewesther.com:

SUNSPOTS BREAK A SPACE AGE RECORD: Solar Minimum is becoming very deep indeed. Over the weekend, the sunset a Space Age record for spotlessness. So far in 2019, the sun has been without sunspots for more than 270 days, including the last 33 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 1913, which had 311 spotless days.

Last week, the NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel issued a new forecast. Based on a variety of predictive techniques, they believe that the current Solar Minimum will reach its deepest point in April 2020 (+/- 6 months) followed by a new Solar Maximum in July 2025. This means that low sunspot counts and weak solar activity could continue for some time to come.

Spaceweather.com

How the sun affects temperatures on Earth (w/ Valentina Zharkova, Northumbria University)

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.

According to space weather since 2015, the number of days without a recordable sun spot has been rising year over year. NOAA, NASA and others all appear to agree the sun is entering a solar minimum phase.

What it means is open to interpretation because as Professor William Happer pointed out when I asked him about the growing number of people and agencies that suggest a solar minimum could lead to a cooling off period, he directed me the Danish proverb: “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

It has been suggested that mathematics can establish patterns and back them up with empirical evidence to support a prediction. We reached out to Professor of Mathematics Valentina Zharkova of Northumbria University, one of the first people to raise awareness of the decrease in solar activity, for a Conversation That Matters about the sun, its reduced activity and her reading of the impact it will have on temperatures on earth.

My bets are with Dr. Zharkova, we will have a Maunder light Grand Minimum in the next 30 years. Your thoughts in the comments.

Deep Solar Minimum on the Verge of a Historic Milestone

Guest post by Paul Dorian

clip_image002Daily observations of the number of sunspots since 1 January 1900 according to Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC). The thin blue line indicates the daily sunspot number, while the dark blue line indicates the running annual average. The recent low sunspot activity is clearly reflected in the recent low values for the total solar irradiance. Data source: WDC-SILSO, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels. Last day shown: 31 October 2019. Last diagram update: 1 November 2019. [Courtesy climate4you.com]

*Deep solar minimum on the verge of an historic milestone*

Overview

The sun is currently in the midst of a deep solar minimum and it is about to reach an historic milestone. So far this year the sun has been blank (i.e., no visible sunspots) for 266 days and, barring any major surprises, it’ll reach 269 days early next week which will be the quietest year in terms of sunspots since 1913 when the sun was spotless for 311 days. In fact, the current stretch of consecutive spotless days has reached 29 and for the year the sun has been blank 77% of the time. The current record-holder in the satellite era for spotless days in a given year is 2008 when the sun was blank for 268 days making the 2008-2009 solar minimum the deepest since 1913.

Solar minimum is a normal part of the 11-year sunspot cycle, but the last one and the current one have been far deeper than most. One of the consequences of a solar minimum is a reduction of solar storms and another is the intensification of cosmic rays. The just ended solar cycle 24 turned out to be one of the weakest in more than a century – continuing a weakening trend that began in the 1980’s – and, if the latest forecasts are correct, the next solar cycle will be the weakest in more than 200 years.

clip_image004The sun remains spotless today and has been so 77% of the time in 2019; image courtesy NASA SDO/HMI, spaceweather.com

Solar minimum and the intensification of cosmic rays

One of the natural impacts of decreasing solar activity is the weakening of the ambient solar wind and its magnetic field which, in turn, allows more and more cosmic rays to penetrate the solar system. Galactic cosmic rays are high-energy particles originating from outside the solar system that can impact the Earth’s atmosphere. Our first line of defense from cosmic rays comes from the sun as its magnetic field and the solar wind combine to create a ‘shield’ that fends off cosmic rays attempting to enter the solar system. The shielding action of the sun is strongest during solar maximum and weakest during solar minimum with the weakening magnetic field and solar wind.  The intensity of cosmic rays varies globally by about 15% over a solar cycle because of changes in the strength of the solar wind, which carries a weak magnetic field into the heliosphere, partially shielding Earth from low-energy galactic charged particles.

clip_image006Cosmic rays have been intensifying for more than 4 years. On Dec. 5th and 6th they surged within a percentage point of the Space Age record, according to data from neutron counters at the University of Oulu’s Cosmic Ray Station in Finland. Courtesy spaceweather.com.

High-altitude balloons have been launched on a periodic basis in recent years to monitor stratospheric radiation associated with the influx of cosmic rays and they have shown a steady increase since 2015 (campaign sponsored by spaceweather.com). In this set of measurements, cosmic rays have increased by about 13% during the past four years over the central part of California. At another location, the neutron monitor at the University of Oulu’s cosmic ray station in Finland recorded levels earlier this month that were within a percentage point of the satellite era record.

clip_image008Cosmic 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 Observatoryin 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.

Cosmic rays are of interest to anyone who flies on airplanes. According to spaceweather.com, the International Commission on Radiological Protection has classified pilots as occupational radiation workers because of cosmic ray doses they receive while flying. A recent study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health shows that flight attendants face an elevated risk of cancer compared to members of the general population. They listed cosmic rays as one of several risk factors. There are also some studies that suggest cosmic rays promote the formation of clouds in the atmosphere; if so, increasing cosmic rays could affect weather and climate.

clip_image010400 years of sunspot observations; courtesy Wikipedia

Solar cycle 25

The solar cycle is like a pendulum, swinging back and forth between periods of high and low sunspot number every 11 years or so. Researchers have been tracking solar cycles since they were discovered in the 19th century. The just ended solar cycle, #24, was the weakest with the fewest sunspots since solar cycle 14 peaked in February 1906. Solar cycle 24 continued a recent trend of weakening solar cycles which began with solar cycle 21 that peaked around 1980. The very latest forecast for the next solar cycle (#25) says it will be weaker than the just ended SC24 and perhaps the weakest of the last 200 years. To be fair, some earlier forecasts had the next solar cycle being in similar magnitude to SC24.  However, research now underway has apparently found a more reliable method to predict space weather. The maximum of this next cycle – measured in terms of sunspot numbers, could be 30 to 50% lower than the most recent one – solar cycle 24 according to the latest forecast. The results of this new forecasting technique show that the next solar cycle will start in 2020 and reach its maximum in 2025.

The new forecast is the work of a team led by Irina Kitiashvili of the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. Using data collected since 1976 from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory and the Solar Dynamics Observatory space missions, the researchers were able to come up with a prediction by directly observing the solar magnetic field rather than simply counting sunspots, which provides only a rough gauge of activity inside the Sun. Because this is a relatively new approach, there is only data from four complete cycles, but by combining three sources of solar observations with estimates of the Sun’s interior activity, the team was able to produce a prediction in 2008 that matched the activity that was observed over the past 11 years.

One challenge for researchers working to predict the Sun’s activities is that scientists do not yet completely understand the inner workings of our star. Some factors that play out deep inside the Sun cannot be measured directly. They have to be estimated from measurements of related phenomena on the solar surface like sunspots, coronal holes and filaments. Kitiashvili’s method differs from other prediction tools in terms of the raw material for its forecast. Previously, researchers used the number of sunspots to represent indirectly the activity of the solar magnetic field. The new approach takes advantage of direct observations of magnetic fields emerging on the surface of the Sun.

clip_image011Temperature recordings at the Greenland Ranch weather station in Death Valley, California during the intense heat wave of July 1913. This excerpt about the record-breaking heat wave comes from an article posted during January 1922 in the meteorological journal Monthly Weather Review which is still in publication today. Courtesy NOAA

Extreme weather of 1913

One final note of interest, the year 1913 cited earlier for its lack of sunspots on the order of 311 days was a year filled with wild weather extremes including the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth in Death Valley, CA. For more on the extreme weather of 1913 click here.

Meteorologist Paul Dorian
Perspecta, Inc.
perspectaweather.com

NOAA/NASA Panel Concurs that Solar Cycle 25 will Peak in July 2025

Screen Shot 2019-12-12 at 1.08.16 AM
12/11/2019

 

The NOAA/NASA-co-chaired international Solar Cycle Prediction Panel has released its latest forecast for to forecast Solar Cycle 25. The panel’s consensus calls for a peak in July 2025 (±8 months), with a smoothed sunspot number of 115. The panel agreed that Cycle 25 will be of average intensity and similar to Cycle 24. The panel additionally concurred that the solar minimum between Cycles 24 and 25 will occur in April 2020 (±6 months). If the solar minimum prediction is correct, this would make Solar Cycle 24 the seventh longest on record at 11.4 years. In its preliminary forecast released last April, the scientists on the panel forecast that Solar Cycle 25 would likely be weak, much like the current Cycle 24.

“Solar Cycle 25 may have a slow start, but is anticipated to peak with solar maximum occurring between 2023 and 2026, and a sunspot range of 95 to 130. This is well below the average number of sunspots,” the panel said last spring, adding with “high confidence” that Cycle 25 “should break the trend of weakening solar activity seen over the past four cycles.” The panel said the expectation that Cycle 25 would be comparable in size to Cycle 24 suggests that the steady decline in solar cycle amplitude seen from Cycle 21 through Cycle 24 has ended and that there is no indication of an approaching “Maunder-type” minimum. Cycle 24 peaked in April 2014 with an average sunspot number of 82. [Emphasis Added]

The Solar Cycle Prediction Panel forecasts the number of sunspots expected for solar maximum, along with the timing of the peak and minimum solar activity levels for the cycle. It is comprised of scientists representing NOAA, NASA, the International Space Environment Services, and other US and international scientists.

Source: NOAA/NASAviaARRL

Shedding New Light on the Sun

parker-probe

This first data from Parker reveals our star, the Sun, in new and surprising ways.

On Dec. 4, 2019, four new papers in the journal Nature describe what scientists have learned from this unprecedented exploration of our star — and what they look forward to learning next.

These discoveries uncover new data about the behavior of the material and particles that dash away from the Sun, bringing scientists closer to answering crucial inquiries about the physics of our star. Moreover, the information Parker has uncovered about how the Sun constantly ejects material and energy will help scientists re-write the models we use to understand and predict the space weather around our planet and understand the process by which stars are created and evolve.

The Techexplorist summarizes the findings HERE .

 

Scientists Predict New Solar Cycle About to Begin

(MSN) The latest 11-year cycle of the sun is almost over and scientists have just released predictions for the next one.

Based on the number of sunspots that formed, scientists considered the last solar cycle, No. 24, “weak.” They predict that the upcoming cycle, No. 25, will be a little more intense but still in the weak category.

This consensus forecast was made public at the annual Space Weather Workshop last week, hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

Source

What do you think?  Do you agree with NOAA?