View Poll Results: What impact will the sun's deep minima have on the future climate?
Climate getting progressively cooler through next solar cycles 288 43.11%
No impact 145 21.71%
Global warming is here to stay 128 19.16%
Calm before the solar storm of 2012-2013 107 16.02%
Voters: 668. You may not vote on this poll

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21-04-2009, 13:35   #1
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The sun is dead!! Mini iceage???

Are we approaching a mini iceage folks? history does have a habit of repeating itself.its definately bein colder of late.bring it on i's some info on current state of our shining orb.all comments and thoughts welcome folks.

Dark spots, some as large as 50,000 miles in diameter, typically move across the surface of the sun, contracting and expanding as they go. These strange and powerful phenomena are known as sunspots, but now they are all gone. Not even solar physicists know why it’s happening and what this odd solar silence might be indicating for our future.

Although periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, this current period has gone on much longer than usual and scientists are starting to worry—at least a little bit. Recently 100 scientists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America gathered to discuss the issue at an international solar conference at Montana State University. Today's sun is as inactive as it was two years ago, and solar physicists don’t have a clue as to why.
"It continues to be dead," said Saku Tsuneta with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, program manager for the Hinode solar mission, noting that it is at least a little bit worrisome for scientists.
Dana Longcope, a solar physicist at MSU, said the sun usually operates on an 11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle. The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending now, Longcope said. The next cycle is just beginning and is expected to reach its peak sometime around 2012. But so far nothing is happening.
"It's a dead face," Tsuneta said of the sun's appearance.
Tsuneta said solar physicists aren't weather forecasters and they can't predict the future. They do have the ability to observe, however, and they have observed a longer-than-normal period of solar inactivity. In the past, they observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots. That period coincided with a little ice age on Earth that lasted from 1650 to 1700. Coincidence? Some scientists say it was, but many worry that it wasn’t.
Geophysicist Phil Chapman, the first Australian to become an astronaut with NASA, said pictures from the US Solar and Heliospheric Observatory also show that there are currently no spots on the sun. He also noted that the world cooled quickly between January last year and January this year, by about 0.7C.
"This is the fastest temperature change in the instrumental record, and it puts us back to where we were in 1930," Dr Chapman noted in The Australian recently.
If the world does face another mini Ice Age, it could come without warning. Evidence for abrupt climate change is readily found in ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctica. One of the best known examples of such an event is the Younger Dryas cooling, which occurred about 12,000 years ago, named after the arctic wildflower found in northern European sediments. This event began and ended rather abruptly, and for its entire 1000 year duration the North Atlantic region was about 5°C colder. Could something like this happen again? There’s no way to tell, and because the changes can happen all within one decade—we might not even see it coming.
The Younger Dryas occurred at a time when orbital forcing should have continued to drive climate to the present warm state. The unexplained phenomenon has been the topic of much intense scientific debate, as well as other millennial scale events.
Now this 11-year low in Sunspot activity has raised fears among a small but growing number of scientists that rather than getting warmer, the Earth could possibly be about to return to another cooling period. The idea is especially intriguing considering that most of the world is in preparation for global warming.
Canadian scientist Kenneth Tapping of the National Research Council has also noted that solar activity has entered into an unusually inactive phase, but what that means—if anything—is still anyone’s guess. Another solar scientist, Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, however, is certain that it’s an indication of a coming cooling period.
Sorokhtin believes that a lack of sunspots does indicate a coming cooling period based on certain past trends and early records. In fact, he calls manmade climate change "a drop in the bucket" compared to the fierce and abrupt cold that can potentially be brought on by inactive solar phases.
Sorokhtin’s advice: "Stock up on fur coats"…just in case

The Sun is the dimmest it has been for nearly a century.
There are no sunspots, very few solar flares - and our nearest star is the quietest it has been for a very long time.
The observations are baffling astronomers, who are due to study new pictures of the Sun, taken from space, at the UK National Astronomy Meeting.
The Sun normally undergoes an 11-year cycle of activity. At its peak, it has a tumultuous boiling atmosphere that spits out flares and planet-sized chunks of super-hot gas. This is followed by a calmer period.
Last year, it was expected that it would have been hotting up after a quiet spell. But instead it hit a 50-year year low in solar wind pressure, a 55-year low in radio emissions, and a 100-year low in sunspot activity.
According to Prof Louise Hara of University College London, it is unclear why this is happening or when the Sun is likely to become more active again.
"There's no sign of us coming out of it yet," she told BBC News.
"At the moment, there are scientific papers coming out suggesting that we'll be going into a normal period of activity soon.
"Others are suggesting we'll be going into another minimum period - this is a big scientific debate at the moment."
Sunspots could be seen by the Soho telescope in 2001 (l), but not this year (r)

In the mid-17th Century, a quiet spell - known as the Maunder Minimum - lasted 70 years, and led to a "mini ice-age".
This has resulted in some people suggesting that a similar cooling might offset the impact of climate change.
According to Prof Mike Lockwood of Southampton University, this view is too simplistic.
"I wish the Sun was coming to our aid but, unfortunately, the data shows that is not the case," he said.
Prof Lockwood was one of the first researchers to show that the Sun's activity has been gradually decreasing since 1985, yet overall global temperatures have continued to rise.
"If you look carefully at the observations, it's pretty clear that the underlying level of the Sun peaked at about 1985 and what we are seeing is a continuation of a downward trend (in solar activity) that's been going on for a couple of decades.
"If the Sun's dimming were to have a cooling effect, we'd have seen it by now."
'Middle ground'
Evidence from tree trunks and ice cores suggest that the Sun is calming down after an unusually high point in its activity.
Professor Lockwood believes that as well as the Sun's 11-year cycle, there is an underlying solar oscillation lasting hundreds of years.
He suggests that 1985 marked the "grand maximum" in this long-term cycle and the Maunder Minimum marked its low point.
"We are re-entering the middle ground after a period which has seen the Sun in its top 10% of activity," said Professor Lockwood.
"We would expect it to be more than a hundred years before we get down to the levels of the Maunder Minimum."
He added that the current slight dimming of the Sun is not going to reverse the rise in global temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
"What we are seeing is consistent with a global temperature rise, not that the Sun is coming to our aid."
Data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows global average temperatures have risen by about 0.7C since the beginning of the 20th Century.
And the IPCC projects that the world will continue to warm, with temperatures expected to rise between 1.8C and 4C by the end of the century.
No-one knows how the centuries-long waxing and waning of the Sun works. However, astronomers now have space telescopes studying the Sun in detail.
According to Prof Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire, this current quiet period gives astronomers a unique opportunity.
"This is very exciting because as astronomers we've never seen anything like this before in our lifetimes," he said.
"We have spacecraft up there to study the Sun in phenomenal detail. With these telescopes we can study this minimum of activity in a way that we could not have done so in the past."

The sunspot cycle is behaving a little like the stock market. Just when you think it has hit bottom, it goes even lower.
2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year's 366 days (73%). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days: Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had hit bottom in 2008.
Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year's 90 days (87%).
It adds up to one inescapable conclusion: "We're experiencing a very deep solar minimum," says solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center.
"This is the quietest sun we've seen in almost a century," agrees sunspot expert David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

Quiet suns come along every 11 years or so. It's a natural part of the sunspot cycle, discovered by German astronomer Heinrich Schwabe in the mid-1800s. Sunspots are planet-sized islands of magnetism on the surface of the sun; they are sources of solar flares, coronal mass ejections and intense UV radiation. Plotting sunspot counts, Schwabe saw that peaks of solar activity were always followed by valleys of relative calm—a clockwork pattern that has held true for more than 200 years:.
The current solar minimum is part of that pattern. In fact, it's right on time. "We're due for a bit of quiet—and here it is," says Pesnell.

But is it supposed to be this quiet? In 2008, the sun set the following records:

A 50-year low in solar wind pressure: Measurements by the Ulysses spacecraft reveal a 20% drop in solar wind pressure since the mid-1990s—the lowest point since such measurements began in the 1960s. The solar wind helps keep galactic cosmic rays out of the inner solar system. With the solar wind flagging, more cosmic rays are permitted to enter, resulting in increased health hazards for astronauts. Weaker solar wind also means fewer geomagnetic storms and auroras on Earth.
A 12-year low in solar "irradiance": Careful measurements by several NASA spacecraft show that the sun's brightness has dropped by 0.02% at visible wavelengths and 6% at extreme UV wavelengths since the solar minimum of 1996. The changes so far are not enough to reverse the course of global warming, but there are some other significant side-effects: Earth's upper atmosphere is heated less by the sun and it is therefore less "puffed up." Satellites in low Earth orbit experience less atmospheric drag, extending their operational lifetimes. Unfortunately, space junk also remains longer in Earth orbit, increasing hazards to spacecraft and satellites.

"What is Solar Minimum and Why Should We Care?"
A 55-year low in solar radio emissions: After World War II, astronomers began keeping records of the sun's brightness at radio wavelengths. Records of 10.7 cm flux extend back all the way to the early 1950s. Radio telescopes are now recording the dimmest "radio sun" since 1955: Some researchers believe that the lessening of radio emissions is an indication of weakness in the sun's global magnetic field. No one is certain, however, because the source of these long-monitored radio emissions is not fully understood.
All these lows have sparked a debate about whether the ongoing minimum is "weird", "extreme" or just an overdue "market correction" following a string of unusually intense solar maxima.
"Since the Space Age began in the 1950s, solar activity has been generally high," notes Hathaway. "Five of the ten most intense solar cycles on record have occurred in the last 50 years. We're just not used to this kind of deep calm."
Deep calm was fairly common a hundred years ago. The solar minima of 1901 and 1913, for instance, were even longer than the one we're experiencing now. To match those minima in terms of depth and longevity, the current minimum will have to last at least another year.
In a way, the calm is exciting, says Pesnell. "For the first time in history, we're getting to see what a deep solar minimum is really like." A fleet of spacecraft including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the twin STEREO probes, the five THEMIS probes, Hinode, ACE, Wind, TRACE, AIM, TIMED, Geotail and others are studying the sun and its effects on Earth 24/7 using technology that didn't exist 100 years ago. Their measurements of solar wind, cosmic rays, irradiance and magnetic fields show that solar minimum is much more interesting and profound than anyone expected.
Bristling with advanced sensors, "SDO" is slated to launch later this year--perfect timing to study the ongoing solar minimum.
Modern technology cannot, however, predict what comes next. Competing models by dozens of top solar physicists disagree, sometimes sharply, on when this solar minimum will end and how big the next solar maximum will be. The great uncertainty stems from one simple fact: No one fully understands the underlying physics of the sunspot cycle.

Current conditions
Updated: Today at: 1145 UT The sun is blank
Sunspot number: 0

NEW: Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 25 days
2009 total: 97 days (88%)
Since 2004: 608 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days

Updated 20 Apr 2009

Updated: Today at 1146 UT Coronal Holes: There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope SPACE WEATHER
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21-04-2009, 18:06   #2
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spaceweather update-new sunspot forming

Daily Sun: 21 Apr 09 A new sunspot is forming at the circled location. The magnetic polarity of the spot identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 7
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 21 Apr 2009

NEW: Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 97 days (88%)
Since 2004: 608 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 21 Apr 2009
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21-04-2009, 18:16   #3
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this breaks 25 consecutive days of no is the spotless days to date this year and last year.

Out of 365 days in 2008, 266 were without sunspots. So far in 2009, January had 25 sunspot free days; February had 23 sun spot free days; and March had 28 sun spot free days. Solar Cycle 23 began in a May 1996 minimum, so by April 2009, it's been thirteen years between minimums and still no increasing sunspots. The last time a solar cycle has gone thirteen years between minimums was Solar Cycle 15 in 1902 to 1913.
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21-04-2009, 19:03   #4
M.T. Cranium
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Here's how I see it ...

We appear to be heading for at least a minor solar downturn, perhaps not another Maunder minimum, but possibly something equivalent to the Dalton minimum which lasted from about 1797 to 1827 with only weak solar peaks around 1801-04, 1815-17 in that stretch.

The current situation is about the same as around 1810, you could compare the two major peaks in 1778 and 1787 (a long duration peak) with 1979 and 1989, and then the moderate peak of 1801-04 with the recent 1999-2002 period. So we are in that situation with declining peaks of activity in our recent past, and a long extinction of the most recent peak followed by several years of very quiet solar behaviour as in 1809-11 (almost no sunspots then either).

The Dalton minimum was also associated with a downturn in global temperatures but this is compromised by the 1815 eruption of Tamboro and the largest volcanic dust veil of recent historic times. If that had not come along in the middle of the Dalton minimum (albeit at one of the weak sunspot peaks) it is not so clear how much of a temperature signal would have been reported in the Dalton.

There was another minimum that goes without a name from about 1875 to 1915, this was a more subdued downturn in solar activity but in general the weather was fairly cold in this period as well; once again, there was a major volcanic eruption (Krakatoa) at a weak solar maximum in this interval.

Our current situation relative to that period would be similar to about 1877-78 although there was a major El Nino event in 1876-77 so the climate signals would have been different going into this analogue. The years 1879 to 1881brought notable cold to Europe although in North America the more obvious cold period was 1883 to 1888.

I have to qualify all of my statements on climate with the observation that I see "global warming" as considerably over-hyped in the first place, so a slight downturn in temperatures in recent years means nothing much more to me than a sign of random variability raising its head. I don't see the current global climate as unusually cold, in fact over in the UK they are on course to record the second if not all-time warmest April in 350 years. Of course it was a colder than average winter in most of Europe and some parts of North America too.

The other variable in this puzzle is that solar-terrestrial connections are not proven either, the Maunder minimum certainly fell in the coldest part of the Little Ice Age but that extended through many centuries of variable solar activity, granted much of it was lower than the active 20th century, but there are glaring counter-examples to the solar activity theory, for example, the winter of 1947 took place near a very active solar max, and the hot summer of 1911 was during a three-year interval of quiet sun conditions, while 2006 was also a declining rather quiet year.

The main thing for me is that the global warming or climate change lobby have probably failed to prove their contention that runaway warming lies ahead unless we follow some extreme program of greenhouse gas reductions, what seems more likely to me is that natural variability has been driving the observed changes, and that scientists have been confusing their model output based on assumptions with locked-in real world changes that must necessarily occur (because their models predict them). This to me is the continuing fallacy often present in climatology through the decades, that the future climate will be a linear extension of the recent past climate. These trends often reverse and sometimes on very short notice.
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21-04-2009, 19:23   #5
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Beautiful image where you can clearly see that newly formed sunspot.

Some scientists believe that an extreme cooling episode, potentially a mini-ice age, is imminent. Others think that it may already be under way.

We know that when UV rays combine with oxygen to produce ozone, heat is generated. Fewer UV rays means less ozone—and thus less heat—is produced.
When eruptive activity on the Sun decreases, solar winds weaken; fewer solar flares occur; and fewer geomagnetic storms reach Earth's atmosphere. A decrease in solar activity leads to an increase in cosmic rays reaching Earth's lower atmosphere.
Cosmic rays increase low cloudiness, which reflects solar radiation. Thus, an increase in cosmic rays leads to cooling. (Conversely, fewer cosmic rays result in fewer low clouds, more sunshine, and warmer temperatures.)

imagine this eh!!!
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21-04-2009, 19:36   #6
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hey MTC,glad to read your thoughts and important relevant info on all this.i agree with you 100%,its not set in stone by any means on what actually triggered past severe cold spells.perhaps all we need now is a serious eruption to take place during this quiet solar spell.plumes of ash to start the chain reaction or perhaps its all cods wallop.however all past experiences can't be overlooked.

Last edited by Redsunset; 23-04-2009 at 16:50.
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21-04-2009, 19:46   #7
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Say yes to global warming!
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21-04-2009, 20:16   #8
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Originally Posted by mike65 View Post
Say yes to global warming!

Global Warming has gone on strike.

latest sunspot activity movie for the last month

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21-04-2009, 23:46   #9
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Here's some more info for those not fully understanding what we mean when we talk of the Maunder Minimum.

The Maunder minimum is the name given to a period of extreme solar inactivity that occurred between 1645 and 1710. Of particular interest is that this period of inactivity corresponds closely to one of the coldest periods of the so-called "Little Ice Age" in Europe, a time of long, cold winters that caused severe hardships in the pre-industrial revolution world. This has led scientists to extensively study the possible influences of solar activity on terrestrial climate, as well as examine other stars for evidence of activity cycle behavior similar to the Sun's.

Some of the first telescopic observations were made by Galileo in 1611, and he immediately noted the presence of dark blemishes on the Sun's surface; these were the now well-known sunspots. (Several of Galileo's contemporaries saw sunspots as well, but Galileo is the most famous and usually gets the credit for "discovering" sunspots.) Today we know that the number of sunspots rises and falls in a roughly 11-year cycle; this is one of the most obvious manifestations of the solar activity cycle.

Although sunspots were observed telescopically in 1611, it was not until 1843 that an amateur German astronomer, Heinrich Schwabe, noticed a periodic rise and fall in their numbers. That it took over 200 years for astronomers to notice something so seemingly obvious is some cause for wonder, but it may be partly explained by the nearly complete absence of sunspots for 70 of those years, between 1645 and 1715.

For reasons not yet understood, the solar cycle operated at a greatly reduced amplitude during that time. Evidence suggests it did not cease entirely, but the sunspot number—an index representing the total level of sunspot activity at a given time—during the late 1600s was reduced by a factor of 10-20 from its typical value during "normal" cycles. This perplexing aspect of the sunspot record was formally pointed out by the astronomers F. W. G. Sporer and E. H. Maunder in 1890, and it is now known as the Maunder minimum.

The existence of the Maunder minimum is interesting on purely astrophysical grounds, because it suggests that the regular rise and fall of sunspots observed from 1715 all the way through to the present day may not be a permanent, or even typical, aspect of solar behavior. It is possible to create a rough reconstruction of the sunspot record prior to the invention of the telescope, using indirect indicators of solar activity, and there is evidence for other Maunder minimum-like periods intermittently from about A.D. 1250 through 1715. The solar cycle as observed today, is therefore not the state in which the Sun spends all—or even most—of its time. Having only observed one Maunder minimum, we have no idea whether the Sun spends 10%, 50%, or 90% of its time in such a state.

Even the "normal" 11-year cycle seems to have longer-term behavior. Different cycles have different strengths, with some of them showing more sunspot activity than others. The strengths of the cycle peaks seem to follow a roughly 80-year period of very strong cycles, slightly weaker ones, then back to stronger ones, and so forth. With detailed sunspot records extending only a few hundred years, it is difficult to confirm or disprove this hypothesis. Combined with evidence for multiple periods of nearly complete inactivity, it becomes impossible to say whether the solar activity cycle, so extensively studied in the last 30 years, is normality or an aberration.

The seemingly erratic behavior of the solar cycle has led a number of astronomers to spend the better parts of their careers studying activity cycles on other stars, the idea being that if those stars show activity cycles or Maunder minimum-like characteristics, we might be better able to understand our own star. Most of this pioneering work has been carried out at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, near Los Angeles. Observations of solar-like stars have been underway at Mt. Wilson since 1963, and the program has accumulated a vast database of solar activity data. The result has been the discovery of a veritable zoo of activity cycles. Some stars have well-behaved cycles with periods comparable to our own Sun's 11-year cycle; these are of particular interest for comparison to the Sun. Other stars have highly variable cycles, while still others vary wildly but with no discernible, regular period. Finally, there are stars that show a complete absence of any activity cycle. Some of them appear to show no cyclic activity at all, while others exhibit tantalizing evidence of having "turned off" midway through the 30 years they have been observed from Earth. Whether or not these stars are truly in a Maunder minimum phase has not been answered, because it is very difficult to tell if they have low-amplitude cycles or no cycles at all, and it is even more difficult to study their finer characteristics in detail. However, there is no doubt that pronounced, fairly regular activity cycles like the Sun's are not universal either for the Sun or its stellar cousins.

Examinations of the solar activity cycle and the unusually cold weather of the Maunder minimum period have spurred significant controversy among astronomers, atmospheric scientists, and climatologists. The period from about 1300-1715 is known as the "Little Ice Age" in Europe, a period characterized by unusually long and cold winters. This period coincides closely with the time during which the Sun is known to have had time of inactivity, with some of the worst weather occurring squarely during the Maunder minimum.

In 1991, a pair of Danish meteorologists published a paper in which they pointed out a remarkably strong correlation between the length of the solar activity cycle and the global mean temperature in the northern hemisphere. Not all activity cycles are the same length, with longer cycles (12-14 years) seeming to indicate cooler global temperatures than the short (9-10 year) cycles. It is very difficult to assess the effect of even recent solar cycles on global climate, let alone those from the Maunder minimum period, because of the relatively short time span for which detailed observations exist, and because climate records become sparse to nonexistent as one looks back more than a century or so.
Despite the ongoing controversy, for which there is decidedly no definitive answer as of the year 2000, there is no doubt the Maunder minimum years were a time of significant misery in Europe, with the long, harsh winters leading to shortened growing seasons, failed crops, and widespread famine. Whether, or to what degree, the Sun is responsible for this, is an important question for atmospheric scientists and astronomers to tackle over the next few decades.
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22-04-2009, 13:17   #10
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FADING SUNSPOT: New sunspot 1015 emerged yesterday to break a string of 25 consecutive spotless days. A new string of spotlessness is about to begin. Less than 24 hours after it appeared, the tiny sunspot is already fading away.looks like its been handed its P45,ah bless


Daily Sun: 22 Apr 09

Sunspot 1015 is fading away. It emerged late yesterday, April 21st, with a magnetic imprint that identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. At the rate it is decaying, the lifetime of the spot could total fewer than 24 hours. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Apr 2009

NEW: Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 97 days (88%)
Since 2004: 608 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 22 Apr 2009

just for fun,heres a solar flare with the earth next to it.anyone for toast.
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22-04-2009, 17:38   #11
M.T. Cranium
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There are some solar activity records from before the telescope age, that are reconstructed mainly from auroral sightings through the centuries. Schove published these about forty years ago and they are available in the appendix to Hubert Lamb's two-volume work, "Climate, Past, Present and Future."

I have a copy and it shows basically the following trends since about 290 AD (there are some scattered reports from earlier times but a more continuous record begins with a peak in 290 AD).

Most of the 3rd and 4th centuries were active, comparable to the 18th century. From about 500 to 900 the Sun was somewhat less active according to these records, but the downturns were not any weaker than the Dalton, and there were some intervals of fairly intense activity. The 10th century was a period of strong activity, and this seemed to fade slowly through the 11th century.

The period from about the 12th to the 14th century was active and some of the peaks in the late 14th century were estimated to be among the strongest ever recorded.

Then the 15th century had a much weaker period, which is now known as the Sporer minimum. This century was just about as weak as the Maunder. The Sun then rebooted its cycles and became moderately active in the 16th and the first half of the 17th century. Galileo got to see some fairly regular sunspot cycles before he died (whenever that was) and there was a cycle that peaked in 1649 before the Maunder minimum set in.

Longer records can be estimated on a more general basis from indirect records in pollen sediments (slight differences in radiation etc) and in general terms it is believed that the Sun basically has two modalities, one that is active and regular with 10-year cycles, and one that is less active and irregular with 12-15 year cycles. These seem to occupy roughly 75 and 25 per cent of the time, respectively.

So the chances are fairly good that one of these weaker periods lies ahead, but weaker periods seem to come in all shapes and sizes; the average of their duration is about 30-40 years, and the longest they seem to last is about 70-80 years. However, the Sun can remain active without significant breakdowns of the cycles for up to 200 years. During these longer intervals of regular activity, there is a tendency for the peaks to increase towards a grand finale, then one or two moderate peaks towards the weak modality that follows. However, this is not always the case.

I suspect some complex external cause because it is rather scary to think that our "stable" Sun is capable of such variations in activity just from internal processes alone. It makes you wonder what its range might actually be over ten thousand or a million years if what we've seen since 1500 is any indication.

Now, in case anyone wonders, the correlation of auroral activity and sunspots is fairly high and so that method of estimation is probably fairly reliable. However, the auroral peak in each cycle often comes a little later than the sunspot cycle. So if you look at Schove's dates, you are probably looking at years that average 2-3 years later than the sunspot cycles.
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22-04-2009, 19:42   #12
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Am I missing something? There's an enormous star 8 minutes light travel away. Its thermonuclear energy is furiously blazing away to keep us alive and toasty for the next few billion years, and people are saying it's dead?

That's just stupid.
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22-04-2009, 19:51   #13
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ah come on now confab,its the scientist way of discribing the sun going through its extended solar minimum cycle.should have picked up by now.thats why there's all this talk of previous historic events like the dalton and maunder minimum.
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23-04-2009, 00:28   #14
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Right everyone had a discussion today on the unusual solar minimum today,now its all very technical but basically saying that,

Looking at the magnetic field strength on the surface of the sun, there is little difference with "normal" cycles, but there ARE differences, and as expected, they are at the end of the cycle

Looking at bands at the middle of both hemispheres and comparing the magnetic field in it with the region around the equator shows that the northern hemisphere is basically the same but there is a significant difference in the southern hemispere

This also comes out clearly in the butterfly diagrams of the magnetic field, where the northern "wing" is the same (basicaly) for cycles 21 22 and 23, however, the southern "wing" is longer and more intense for 23 as compared with 21 and 22

Also, the solar magnetic field has not yet returned to a dipole field, which is usual for the real solar minimum

What could be important is that the sun is on its way to exit the period of GSM (Grand Solar Maximum). As the last time this occurred was before the space age, we do not know what "is supposed to happen" at that point. The estimate was that the GSM would end in 9 +/- 8 years, so it could be happening soon

The UV emission of the Sun has not changed at all, which is interesting as the other parameters have changed a lot (being "dimmer", solar wind less magnetic field strength and less ram pressure because of lower density). The ratio of He of H has not changed.

Basically, the feeling is that we are in a very very interesting time of solar physics. Everything is being measured, and this is the first time in the space age that we have an anomalous minimum and that we are leaving a GSM.

the whole abstract pdf of meeting is

Alot to take in but interesting if our sun does decide to stay in a slumber.we really don't know whats gonna happen but personally i'd welcome a return to great snowstorms of yesteryear.

(AB2) MIST/UKSP The Unusual (?) Solar Minimum
When Did Solar Cycle 23 Go Wrong?
K. Strong (NASA GSFC / SP Systems), Julia Saba (Lockheed Martin Advanced
Technology Center)
We use over 400 Kitt Peak synoptic maps of the unsigned solar magnetic flux to contrast and
compare the magnetic evolution of the last 3 solar cycles. We find that flux levels and the
spatial distribution of the strong field (>50G) during Cycle 23 are similar to the previous 2
cycles in the northern hemisphere. However, the southern hemisphere of the Sun has
behaved anomalously during Cycle 23. Could we have predicted this? If so, how long ago
would this change in the magnetic evolution in the South have become evident? The
behavior of the strong-field flux poses several challenges for dynamo and flux transport
models by imposing faster timescales and asymmetries that are currently not included in the
Stark Differences between Solar Activity Data and
Oscillation Frequencies Observed in BiSON Data
A. Broomhall (University of Birmingham), W.J. Chaplin, Y. Elsworth, S.T.
Fletcher, R. New
It is well known that seismic frequencies obtained from Sun-as-a-Star Doppler velocity
observations, such as those made by the Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network (BiSON),
respond to changes in the surface activity associated with the solar cycle. The solar cycle
shifts associated with p-mode frequencies are usually well correlated to activity proxies such
as the 10.7cm radio flux. BiSON is in a unique position as it has now been collecting data for
over 30yrs and so is able to compare observed frequencies with activity data for more than 2
complete solar cycles.
We find unusually large differences between the p-mode frequencies observed in BiSON
data and the levels of activity indicated by different proxies during the declining phase of
cycle 23 and the current solar minimum. Furthermore, we find that the cycle minimum
indicated by the helioseismic data is significantly deeper than the minima observed by the
activity proxies. We also observe a quasi-biennial signal in the p-mode frequencies.
Observational Periodicities of Sunspot and
Background Magnetic Fields in the solar cycle and
their Role in the Future Prediction
S.Zharkov (University of Sheffield, University of Bradford) and
Zharkova V.V. (University of Bradford)
We will present comparative statistical analysis of latitudinal variations of the sunspot and
background magnetic fields (BMF) in a few past solar cycles and deduce some additional
periodicities fluctuating in time and latitudes. The deduced periods will be tested with
Principle Component Analysis methodology and the principle eigenvalues are to be reported.
The role of principal dynamo waves in the solar activity and their implications on sunspot
numbers in the current cycle will be discussed.
(AB2) MIST/UKSP The Unusual (?) Solar Minimum
Open Solar Flux and Irradiance during the Current
Exceptional Solar Minimum: Implications for
Reconstruction of Past Solar Variability
M. Lockwood (Southampton University and RAL), Alexis Rouillard and Matt
The current solar minimum has revealed record low values of both the open solar flux and the
solar irradiance since space measurements began. The implications for reconstructions of
the variations of both prior to the space age are discussed.
Heliospheric Observations of a Deep Solar Minimum
M. Owens (Imperial College London)
The deep solar minimum seen in remote observations of anomalously-low sunspot number
and weak photospheric magnetic fields, is also present in heliospheric measurements made
in situ. The solar wind dynamic pressure has dropped approximately 20 % from previous
solar cycles and the near-Earth heliospheric field strength is at its weakest since
observations began
~45-years ago. We interpret single point heliospheric observations in
terms of the global heliosphere and show the total magnetic flux content of the heliosphere
has been falling over the last three solar minima. The solar minimum-to-maximum cycle
variation in flux can be attributed, to some degree, to closed magnetic flux added by coronal
mass ejections (CMEs). There is some observational evidence that the CME rate is also
slightly reduced this minimum compared to the previous, though not sufficiently to completely
explain the weakening of the heliospheric magnetic field.

The 3D Heliosphere at the Minimum of Solar Cycle 23
R. Forsyth (Imperial College London), T S Horbury, A Balogh
The Ulysses spacecraft made its third set of polar passes through the heliosphere during the
minimum of solar cycle 23 providing a 3D perspective on what has proved to be a
dramatically different minimum from any other during the space age. Specifically the Ulysses
observations also permit a direct comparison with the equivalent set of solar minimum
passes 12 years previously during the late declining phase of solar cycle 22. Among the
differences observed are a 22 % reduction in solar wind dynamic pressure, a 34 %
reduction in the flux of the heliospheric magnetic field, and an approximately 40 % reduction
in the amplitude of waves and turbulence in the high speed solar wind. A further emerging
feature is evidence of a north-south asymmetry in the heliosphere, manifested for example in
the structure of the heliospheric current sheet, the temperature of the high speed solar wind
and the strength of magnetic field fluctuations. The sense of this asymmetry does not change
through the solar cycle polarity reversal of the heliospheric magnetic field.
Monitoring and First- Light Spectra from SphinX on
Koronas- Photon during the Present Solar Minimum
K. Phillips (UCL-Mullard Space Science Laboratory), B. Sylwester, J. Sylwester,
and the SphinX Team

AB2) MIST/UKSP The Unusual (?) Solar Minimum
The levels of solar X-ray emission during the present minimum have dropped so low that one
of the chief traditional means of defining the emission, viz. the 1-8 Angstrom channel of
GOES, is below A1, the lowest level that can be reached by the ion chambers on board
GOES. The SphinX instrument, part of the TESIS instrument package on KORONASPHOTON
and built and operated by the Space Research Centre in Wroclaw, Poland (PI Prof.
J. Sylwester), has been recording the emission in the 1.5-15 keV (0.8-8 A) band since shortly
after spacecraft launch on 2009 February 20. SphinX is a spectrophotometer with four
channels (D1-D4) able to record the solar spectrum with spectral resolution of between 320
eV (D2-D4) and 460 eV (D1) using PIN detectors, so enabling the main features of the solar
spectrum to be identified and used for temperature determination. Pre-launch calibration
procedures (at BESSY and Palermo) should enable a high intensity calibration accuracy. In
this presentation, initial results including estimates of the solar soft X-ray flux and luminosity
will be given and compared with those made during previous solar minima.
The Solar Cycle, the Mean Global Temperature and
Solar Irradiance
A. Wolfendale (Durham), A.D.Erlykin and T Sloan.
The correlation of low cloud cover and mean temperature with cosmic ray flux and solar
irradiance is examined. We find no genuine signal for the former but a small one for solar
irradiance. However, even here there are problems.

Last edited by Redsunset; 23-04-2009 at 00:47.
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23-04-2009, 01:05   #15
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And now to really throw a spanner in the works,here's an article from the mail online,gas how it then concludes that its due but may not now hoping too that this quiet period we're experiencing isn't the calm before the storm.

Meltdown! A solar superstorm could send us back into the dark ages - and one is due in just THREE years

By Michael Hanlon
Last updated at 11:24 PM on 19th April 2009
The catastrophe, when it comes, will be beautiful at first. It is a balmy evening in late September 2012. Ever since the sun set, the dimming skies over London have been alive with fire.

Pillars of incandescent green writhe like gigantic serpents across the skies.

Sheets of orange race across the horizon during the most spectacular display of the aurora borealis seen in southern England for 153 years.

Trouble ahead: How the sun storm might look in London

And then, 90 seconds later, the lights start to go out. Not the lights in the sky - they will dazzle until dawn - but the lights on the ground.

Within an hour, large parts of Britain are without power.

By midnight, every mobile network is down and the internet is dying. Television - terrestrial and satellite - blinks off the air.

Radio is reduced to a burst of static.

By noon the following day, it is clear something terrible has happened and the civilised world has plunged into chaos.

A year later, Britain, most of Europe plus North America is in the grip of the deepest economic catastrophe in history.

By the end of 2013, 100,000 Europeans have died of starvation.

The dead go unburied, the sick untreated.

It will take two decades or more for the first green shoots of recovery to appear - recovery from the first solar superstorm in modern history.

This catastrophe is not some academic one-in-a-million chance scenario.

It is a very real threat which, according to a report in the latest issue of New Scientist, remains one of the most potent, yet least recognised, threats to the future of human civilisation.

Solar activity: The sun, seen through a NASA telescope

Moreover, it is something that has happened before - not that long ago - and indeed has the potential to arrive every 11 years.

So what actually is it?

Solar storms do not normally cause much concern. Swarms of electrically charged subatomic particles from the Sun periodically buffet the Earth and its surroundings, causing health worries for astronauts and the owners of satellites, whose delicate electronics can be fried.

But down on the surface, cocooned under an ocean of air, we rarely notice more than the pretty lights in the sky, created as the electrically charged particles from the Sun sweep into the Earth's own magnetic field to generate the Northern and Southern Lights.

But every now and then, the Sun is convulsed by a gigantic tempest: 50,000-mile-wide eddies of boiling hydrogen plasma on its surface ejecting a billion-tonne, malevolent blob of crackling-charged gas into space at a million miles an hour.

And, very occasionally, one of these mighty coronal mass ejections, as they are called, smacks into the Earth head-on.

This last happened on the morning of September 1, 1859.

That day, one of Britain's top astronomers, Richard Carrington, was observing the Sun.

Using a filter, he was able to study the solar surface through his telescope, and he saw something unusual.

A bright flash of light erupted from the Sun's surface and detached itself from it.

Unbeknown to Carrington, that bright spot was a cloud of charged plasma on its way to Earth.

Just 48 hours later it struck, and the effects were extraordinary.

Brilliant aurorae lit the Earth's night skies right down to the Tropics - their light being so brilliant it was possible to read a newspaper at midnight.

In California, a group of gold miners were roused from their bed hours early, thinking the dawn and a new day's prospecting had come. It was 2am.

Telegraph operators received severe electric shocks as solar-induced currents surged through the networks. It was as though the Earth had been immersed in a bath of electricity.

Such damage as there was, was easy to repair. In 1859, the world ran mostly on steam and muscle.

Solar flare: Large-scale activity on the sun in 2003

Human civilisation did not depend on a gargantuan super-network of electric power and communications.

But it does now. Electric power is modern society's 'cornerstone technology', the technology on which virtually all other infrastructures and services depend.

Daniel Baker, a space weather expert at the University of Colorado, prepared a report for the U.S. National Academy of Sciences last month, and the conclusions make grim reading.

'Every year, our human technology becomes more vulnerable,' he says.

A repeat of the 1859 Carrington event today would have far graver consequences than the frying of some telegraph wires.

The problem comes with our dependence on electricity and the way this electricity is generated and transmitted.

A huge solar storm would cause massive power surges, amounting to billions of unwanted watts surging through the grids.

Most critically, the transformers which convert the multi-thousand-volt current carried by the pylons into 240v domestic current would melt - thousands of them, in every country.

This would bring the world to its knees. With no electricity, we would not just be in the dark.

We are dependent, to a degree few of us perhaps appreciate, on a functioning grid for our survival. All our water and sewage plants run on electricity.

A couple of days after a solar superstorm, the taps would run dry.

Within a week, we would lose all heat and light as reserves ran out, the supermarket shelves would run empty and the complex supply and distribution networks upon which our society depends would have started to break down.

No telephones, no medicines, no manufacturing, no farming - and no food.

Global communications and travel would also collapse - a solar superstorm would probably destroy the network of GPS satellites upon which every airline depends.

Of course, the power grid can be rebuilt, new transformers and cables made, new satellites launched - but organising this in a world teetering on the brink of collapse would not be easy.

Humanity would recover, but it would take decades. A seemingly innocuous event, one which apparently poses no direct threat to human health at all, would have an effect on our world comparable to that of a small nuclear war.
So could this really happen? And why is 2012 a year to worry about? Well, we know that solar superstorm did happen, back in 1859.

And we know that 20 years ago a much smaller storm knocked out the power grid across much of eastern Canada, leaving nine million people without electricity.

We also know that the Sun's activity waxes and wanes in 11-year cycles.

Currently, the Sun is very quiet. But a solar maximum - a peak of activity - is predicted for 2012, and this is when a superstorm could strike, probably around either the spring or autumn equinox, when the orientation of the Earth's magnetic field to the Sun makes us very vulnerable.

The main point is that every solar maximum puts us more in danger as our growing population becomes ever more dependent on electricity.

Ironically, the least-affected parts of the world would probably be the poorest areas.

Those Third World nations that usually suffer most from natural disasters, on account of their poor infrastructure, would adjust most quickly to life without electricity, while richer nations would be paralysed.

So can anything be done to prevent an epic disaster?

A more robust electricity grid would be a start. And we need new satellites to give warning of what is happening on the Sun.

Of course, it may not happen in 2012 - it may not happen in 2023, the year of the next solar maximum.

But sooner or later, a re-run of the Carrington event is inevitable.

Perhaps it would be wise to start stocking up on some candles
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