Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sunspots Well Below Forecasted Numbers

It has come to my attention that the number of sunspots is well below forecasted values for this time of year. Shown above is a graphic from NASA, showing two different sunspot forecasts. If we use the small ticks on the (think back to middle school math here) y-axis, we find the 2010 mark predicts up to ~175 sunspots at this time. It is worth noting that these forecasts appeared on an article published in 2006. Regardless, both forecasts were showing very high numbers for the decade of 2010-2020.

Now shown above is an image of the last four solar cycles- Cycles 21, 22 and 23 are shown in blue, black and red respectively, while the in-progress Cycle 24 is shown in purple. If we look at the most recent observation of the sunspot number, we find that the number of sunspots currently stands at roughly 60- and we're at the height of the sunspot cycle! This means that the forecasts above were off by a minimum of 100 sunspots- a huge difference that shows just how weak the sun is, and raises questions about what its effects could be in the near future.

Short term, nothing major looks to be happening. Incredibly small temperature decreases in comparison to previous years are possible, and a decline in the number of solar flares and coronal mass ejections is probable. Long term, things get more interesting. If the sun does what I expect it to do, we are likely to see a multi-decade decline in temperatures across the world. We must remember that the sun has been recognized as the main driver of climate change, so the decrease in the number of sunspots (and thus the strength of the sun) should allow for at least a slight cooling trend in the world. I'm not willing to discuss global warming in this post, this is just pointing out how the forecasts for sunspots are off compared to what is being observed.



Eric said...

Of course you know another consequence of low sunspot cycles is more stratospheric warming events, as what has certainly been the case the last several years due to the sun going into one of its deepest minimums in about a century.

Anonymous said...

And yet another reason Global Warming is just simply wrong!!

I know Andrew you didn't want to go into it (you don't have to reply(: ). But I really do think this is another thing that proves the past only 2 years of above average temperatures isn't global warming.