Skip to comments.Sun's Behavior Flummoxes Solar Scientists
Posted on 05/14/2009 10:24:10 PM PDT by neverdem
Fickle. The predicted coming solar maximum (red line) compared with the past three solar maxima (blue line). Inset: The sun's face, showing dark sunspots.
Credit: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
Fans of solar storms and power failures are in for some bad news. Today, a panel of the world's solar scientists announced that the next solar maximum--when the sun's irradiance, solar wind, and sunspots are most volatile--is not coming as soon and will not be as strong as predicted. That means fewer solar storms, which can cause power outages here on Earth.
For the past 3 centuries, the sun has followed a regular and reliable cycle. Every 11 years, it experiences a peak and a valley in its activity, called the maximum and minimum, respectively. During maxima, there are numerous sunspots (cool and dark areas on the sun's surface), the polarity of the sun's magnetic field weakens and then flips, and the solar wind fluctuates wildly. During minima, the sun is relatively placid, with no sunspots, a steady and strong magnetic field, and a more-or-less constant solar wind.
Although the solar cycle is regular, scientists have had a difficult time predicting exactly when the maxima and minima will occur. In 2006, for example, as the sun slowly settled down from its most recent maximum, scientists argued with great passion over the timing and strength of the next peak. Forty-five predictions were offered, based on a variety of techniques, from the theoretical to the purely statistical. These predictions generally fell into two camps, with one group forecasting an early and strong solar maximum whereas another group predicted a late and weak maximum.
In the end, the Solar Cycle 24 Prediction Panel, made up of scientists from both groups, published both forecasts. "It was amazing how split the community's predictions were," says panel chair Douglas Biesecker of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.
To everyone's surprise, the sun so far hasn't followed either prediction. Both camps expected that by March 2008, the sun would hit its minimum and begin ramping up its activity toward one of the predicted maximums. But the sun remained quieter than it has been in almost a century. It has now been more than a year, and the sun is still docile, in one of the deepest solar minimums on record.
So the Solar Cycle Prediction Panel is revising its 2007 predictions. And this time, three-quarters of the researchers are on the same page. Today's announcement comes to three main conclusions. First, the panel now believes that the ongoing minimum reached its lowest point in December 2008. Second, the scientists predict that the next maximum will be weak with relatively few sunspots, the weakest since 1928. And third, the panelists say that the maximum will peak in May 2013, 9 months later than previously predicted.
Whether this newly revised forecast comes true, however, still remains unknown. As of today, the solar minimum continues, as deep and as quiet as scientists have ever seen. And there remains significant disagreement within the panel, with a large minority still unconvinced that the new prediction is right.
flummox crisis !
I read these types of stories once in a while and they cause me to chuckle. For some reason, our scientist community, or at least a significant part of it, likes to think they’ve pretty much got things all figured out. They have studied the cosmos, and have come up with rules and theories and are convinced to a large degree that they really have things in hand.
Look, I realize they are still working on dark matter and an evolving understanding of the atom and it’s smallest particles. I still think my premise holds water.
Reports like this pop up from time to time, and you find that they don’t really fully understand our own sun. Many of them haven’t a clue when it comes to global warming. And truth be known, they come upon new things like El Nino and El Nina, and they obsess on that to a large extent for about a decade.
The truth is, there is plenty we don’t really know even about our own solar system. I wish a few more scientists would act like they realize that.
That would be funny if it weren’t so damned accurate a prediction.
Admitting that the Sun is the major impact on Earth's temperature will be the deathblow to CO2 scams like "carbon credits" and "cap-and-trade."
Well, at least in a sane world that would be true...
You are forgetting that the “MINISTRY OF TRUTH” in Washington led by BHO will tell you what the truth is, it may change daily, but no need to concern yourself, just know that they know the truth and will tell you what it is whenever need be.
Hmmm. Something beyond our control.
That ol’ sun just actin’ too uppity and self-reliant like. ‘Sides, Mr. Sun aint OSHA compliant. Looks like Congress is going to have to tax the fecal matter outta him until he’s under control.
Raise taxes, curb liberties, or we're allllll DOOOOOOMED!
Who writes this stuff, Dr. Evil?
Yeah, well, if I were to revise my predictions for 2007, I'm sure I could get them all correct. 20/20 hindsight, and all that.
I was doing some searching on the sun spot thing last year. Came up with something about how they predicted the new cycle would start in Feb. or something. And it was already in the fall and I thought the same thing - some of these guys with their models are really bad. Upon closer inspection of the article, it had predicted Feb. 2007! (It was fall of 2008 that I was reading it).
There is still debate of if we have started the next cycle yet! (Depending on what the meaning of IS is type thing). There are several cycles that seem to be aligning for many chilly years ahead.
If we subtract 'late' Cycle 23 spots from 'early' Cycle 24 spots, we may have a negative number of sunspots for the first time in history.
Invest in eider ducks, fur, and parka companies.
Oh, and look for seeds for fast maturing cool-season veggies...kale comes to mind.
Could very well herald an onset of much cooler days seasons-wide with severely cold winters; it happened before in 1928. This also could be taking place because God Himself is so miffed at the global-warming myth-pushers and their agenda that will horrifically cripple the U.S. economy, He is providing cold, hard truth that there is absolutely no such phenomenon. We as a nation should mount up a strong campaign toward congress and the current bogus administration to cease and desist their outright false global warming agenda, as it is absolute robbery of the American people and will destroy our country economically—in addition to the Great Spendulus Depression that is in the wings.
“This also could be taking place because God Himself is so miffed at the global-warming myth-pushers....”
Interesting. I have looked at the manmade global warming crap as one outcome of a humanistic view of the world. “Man is the most powerful thing on earth, and we have both the power to destroy, and create.”
It might just be that God will let “us” know who really is in charge. Although I think that the natural cycles and push and pull of geophysics that has been on-going for billions of years can also show that.
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