Sun Has Weakest Solar Max In Over 200 Years

  • Date: 16/12/13
  • Inform the Pundits

We may be witnessing the sun’s last dying gasps before entering into a long slumber. The impact of that slumber on Earth’s climate remains the subject of growing scientific speculation.

The monthly International Sunspot Number from the Solar Information Data Center (SIDC) of the Royal Observatory of Belgium was released December 1st. It fell to 77.6 spots/day.

Most newsworthy is that this is still the weakest solar max in over 200 years, well below NASA’s forecast.

Equally important for Earth’s future climate is an emerging pattern in overall sunspot magnetic field strength. Its decline is no longer linear!

Strangely, practically all the sunspot activity last month was in the sun’s southern hemisphere. It accounted for 61.2 of the total. That’s its highest activity level of Cycle 24.

On the other hand, the northern hemisphere only managed a paltry 16.4. That’s its lowest count since before solar max three years ago. Northern sunspot activity is pretty much done.

Sunspot activity in November backed off from October’s incredible burst to 85.6. Activity peaked mid-month with 5 strait active days where spot counts rose to over 100. By month’s end, though, it backed off to the mid-60s. Northern spots were down to just 8 by month’s end.

We may be witnessing the sun’s last dying gasps before entering into a long slumber. The impact of that slumber on Earth’s climate remains the subject of growing scientific speculation.

Disappearing Sunspots

Its been known for years that sunspot umbral magnetic field strength has been declining while their intensity has been rising, thanks to researchers Matt Penn and Bill Livingston at the National Solar Observatory.

The changes are independent of the 11-year sunspot cycle.

A steady decline in umbral magnetic field strength is the most dramatic evidence that sunspots are fading away. Should their field strength drop below 1,500 gauss it becomes physically impossible for sunspots to form and they will disappear.

Less sunspot activity reduces the sun’s radiant energy output and cools Earth.

Shown in the latest measurements above, a transformation has appeared as more data has been gathered and refined.

When magnetic field strength weakening was first discovered it was a steep linear decline that appeared would dip below 1,500 gauss before 2025.

But now, the decline has flattened and become more concave.  It looks as if it may level off close to, but above the magic 1,500 gauss level. At the same time it looks like umbral intensity is curving back the other way to.

Conclusions

Several trends in sunspot activity for this cycle are becoming clear.

First, northern sunspot activity is near its end while southern activity is at its zenith. The only drama left is when will southern spot polarity reversal occur. That is expected any time. The sun right now is a magnetic monopole. The sun will finish its inexorable journey to sunspot minimum after southern sunspot polarity reversal occurs. [...]

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