Skip to comments.NASA’s Sunspot Prediction Roller Coaster
Posted on 12/31/2010 2:26:42 PM PST by Fractal Trader
Santa brought us a new Sunspot prediction to be added to NASAs incredibly high series of at least five ill-fated predictions starting in 2006. NASAs latest peak Sunspot Number for Solar Cycle #24 (SC24) is down 60% from their original, but it still seems a bit too high, judging by David Archibalds recent WUWT posting that analogizes SC24 and SC25 to SC5 and SC6 which peaked around 50, during the cold period (Dalton minimum) of the early 1800′s.
According to Yogi Berra Its tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Team leader Dr. Mausumi Dikpati of NASAs National Center for Atmospheric Research and Solar physicist Dr. David Hathaway of the National Space Science & Technology Center have most likely learned that lesson well, having predicted, back in March 2006, that SC24 would start by the end of 2006 or early 2007 and would peak 30% to 50% higher than SC23, which would yield counts of 156 to 180. The latest prediction is 64 (I love their precision :^) but I predict it will have to be reduced further, kind of like an after-Christmas sale :^)
[NOTE added 28 Dec 9:45PM. See clarification comment by: John from CA, December 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm. I was mistaken in conflating NASA with NOAA in the graphic and discussion, wrongly assuming they coordinated their Sunspot predictions. The base chart, as labeled, is from NOAA but the predictions are from Dikpati and/or Hathaway at NASA, but later ones, on a NASA website, may be personal, not official. Thanks John from CA and sorry for my ignorance of government organization. Ira] My graphic traces the downward progression of NASA Sunspot predictions, superimposed over NASAs NOAAs latest chart of actual Sunspot Numbers. SC23 is shown from its peak in 2000 to its demise in 2009, along with the rise of SC24 up to the latest November 2010 data. The red hoop, peaking at 90, is left over from their previous prediction and should be replaced by their new prediction in January. [Click graphic for larger version].
As indicated, SC23 peaked at a count of 120 around January 2000. It is instructive to read NASAs March 2006 predictions (and somewhat humorous until you realize we paid for it). Some direct quotes [emphasis added]:
The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one, [Dikpati] says Dikpatis prediction is unprecedented. In nearly-two centuries since the 11-year sunspot cycle was discovered, scientists have struggled to predict the size of future maximaand failed. Solar maxima can be intense, as in 1958, or barely detectable, as in 1805, obeying no obvious pattern.
The key to the mystery, Dikpati realized years ago, is a conveyor belt on the sun
Hathaway explains: First, remember what sunspots aretangled knots of magnetism generated by the suns inner dynamo. A typical sunspot exists for just a few weeks. Then it decays, leaving behind a corpse of weak magnetic fields.
The top of the conveyor belt skims the surface of the sun, sweeping up the magnetic fields of old, dead sunspots. The corpses are dragged down at the poles to a depth of 200,000 km where the suns magnetic dynamo can amplify them. Once the corpses (magnetic knots) are reincarnated (amplified), they become buoyant and float back to the surface. Prestonew sunspots!
All this happens with massive slowness. It takes about 40 years for the belt to complete one loop, says Hathaway. The speed varies anywhere from a 50-year pace (slow) to a 30-year pace (fast).
When the belt is turning fast, it means that lots of magnetic fields are being swept up, and that a future sunspot cycle is going to be intense. This is a basis for forecasting: The belt was turning fast in 1986-1996, says Hathaway. Old magnetic fields swept up then should re-appear as big sunspots in 2010-2011.
Like most experts in the field, Hathaway has confidence in the conveyor belt model and agrees with Dikpati that the next solar maximum should be a doozy. But he disagrees with one point. Dikpatis forecast puts Solar Max at 2012. Hathaway believes it will arrive sooner, in 2010 or 2011.
History shows that big sunspot cycles ramp up faster than small ones, he says. I expect to see the first sunspots of the next cycle appear in late 2006 or 2007and Solar Max to be underway by 2010 or 2011.
Whos right? Time will tell. Either way, a storm is coming.
Did Dikpati and Hathaway honestly believed they had cracked the Sunspot code that had eluded science for two centuries? In hindsight, we all know they were wrong in their heady predictions of a doozy. (A doozy, according to Webster is an extraordinary one of its kind. NASA expected SC24 to be extraordinarily intense. But it is shaping up to be extraordinarily weak, so they at least get credit for using the correct word :^)
But, were they being honest? Well, Hathaway had long been aware of the relationship between Sunspot counts and climate, writing:
Early records of sunspots indicate that the Sun went through a period of inactivity in the late 17th century. Very few sunspots were seen on the Sun from about 1645 to 1715. This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the Little Ice Age when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes. There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past. The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research.
Is it possible that their prediction was skewed to the high side by the prevalent opinion, in the Inconvenient Truth year of 2006, that Global Warming was settled science. Could it be that they felt pressured to please their colleagues and superiors by predicting a Sunspot doozy that would presage a doozy of a warm spell?
It seems to me that NASA has a long history of delayed Sunspot predictions, particularly when the trend was downward. They seem to have waited until the actual counts forced them to do so.
Have a look at the graphic. SC23 SC24 [thanks Steeptown December 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm] was supposed to start by early 2007, but it did not. Yet, it took them until October 2008 to revise their prediction of a later start and lower peak (137) and then they dropped it further in January 2009 (predicting a peak of 104 to occur in early 2012).
I am not any kind of expert on Sunspots, yet it was clear to me, nearly two years ago, that 104 was way too high so I predicted a peak of 80 and moved the date of that peak to mid-2013. NASA eventually reduced their peak to 90, and just this month down to 64, and they moved the peak date to mid-2013. My latest prediction is 60, to occur in early 2014, but I believe I may still be a bit too high.
With apologies to Pete Seeger:
Where have all the sunspots gone? NA-SA search-ing, Where have all the sunspots go-ne? NASA dont know. Where have all the sunspots gone? Global Cooling, anyone? Will NASA ever learn? Will NA-SA ev-er learn?
Where has all the carbon gone? Green-house gas-es, Where has all the carbon go-ne? Come down as snow! Where has all the carbon gone? Heating houses, everyone, Will NASA ever learn? Will NA-SA ev-er learn?
Where has Global Warming gone? Point not tip-ping, Where has Global Warming go-ne? Its gonna slow. Where has Global Warming gone? Normal seasons of the Sun, Will NASA ever learn? Will NA-SA ev-er learn?
I tried to see if this had been posted with the title “Sunspots”, but that came back blank on a title search! This references a technical article, but I posted this for the commentary.
NASA is deep into the cult of global warming, and that isn’t going to happen without lots of activity on the sun. NASA’s sun spot predictions are wishful thinking.
I love God’s sense of humor smashing the Earth Worshipers with no more effort than the wind lifts a dandelion seed.
My father was a big believer in the sun spot cycle affecting weather. Things have been proving him right.
Long time gassing ping.
You are exactly right,, God has a wonderful sense of irony.
nasa has to sub-contract getting their back ends cleaned.
Then, the new Cycle 24 DIDN'T happen on schedule ~ not even near it. I remember them checking to see if maybe they hadn't interpreted the magnetic orientation in error.
Well, end of that settled science. Sunspots are way down; England is freezing; Europe is disappearing behind a wall of endless winter, and our alternative "count" trick ~ the number of states in which it snows on any given day ~ is still high. It's more often 38 than it is 20, and it's sure not like the 5s and 10s we've had a decade ago.
Call that the MUAWIYAH COUNT ~ it's lookin' bad guys.
Oh, you can't do that for Canada. It's almost always snowing somewhere this winter, last winter, the winter before ~
I sit here listening to the 17M band die as the sun sets. I see the sunspot count at 24 and the SFI at 81, where it has been for what seems like months and wonder if even a count of 64 at the maximum is optimistic...
nasa has to sub-contract getting their back ends cleaned.
If their muslim outreach is successful that should fix the back end cleaning problem...
Added some keywords so we can find this again!!!
It's currently predicting a max of around 65 in 2013 (which would be in the same range as the Dalton Minimum), but I think it's going to be adjusted downward again next week, because the last three months have been down.
I wish that everyone that posts articles would have some idea what a decent keyword is for those of us who follow articles by keywords...rather than just watching the active list....or whatever scheme works for people.
I have been thinking that we need a thread just to get a discussion going as to the power that keywords use to organize and REALLY stay current on specific topics.
The ping lists are another good way but if you are interested in a number of topics and get on a ping list for each....you see a lot of pings and it really takes a lot of time to go thru ...and it is really just current for a specific time period.
I really can chase articles down pretty efficiently using the keyword lists...
If a keyword is put on the article...but a lot of posters don't seem to see it that way.
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