A Sunspot From The Next Solar Cycle?

Over the weekend, a small sunspot materialized in the sun’s northern hemisphere, then, hours later, vanished again. Such an occurrence is hardly unusual during solar minimum when sunspots are naturally small and short-lived. However, this ephemeral spot was noteworthy because its magnetic field was reversed–marking it as a member of the next solar cycle.


Shown above is a magnetic map of the sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Nov. 17th. Two sunspot groups visible at 21:00 UT are inset.

Note sunspot AR2727 just north of the sun’s equator. It is a member of decaying Solar Cycle 24, the cycle that peaked back in 2012-2014. Next, compare its magnetic polarity to that of the other, unnumbered sunspot high above it. They are opposite. According to Hale’s Law, this means the two sunspots belong to different solar cycles. The high latitude sunspot appears to be a harbinger of Solar Cycle 25.

Solar cycles always mix together at their boundaries. Indeed, ephemeral sunspots possibly belonging to Solar Cycle 25 have already been reported on Dec. 20, 2016, and April 8, 2018. Now we can add Nov. 17, 2018, to list. The slow transition between Solar Cycle 24 and Solar Cycle 25 appears to be underway.

What does this mean? First, it suggests that the solar cycle is still operative. This contradicts widespread internet buzz that a Grand Minimum is in the offing, with no new sunspots expected for decades as the solar cycle grinds to a halt. Second, if patterns of previous solar cycles hold, Solar Minimum is not finished. It will probably continue to deepen in the year or so ahead even as new Solar Cycle 25 sunspots occasionally pop up, promising an ultimate end to the lassitude.

H/T http://spaceweather.com/


The Millennial Turning Point – Solar Activity and the Coming Cooling

Guest opinion by Dr. Norman Page at Watts Up With That

When analyzing complex systems with multiple interacting variables it is useful to note the advice of Enrico Fermi who reportedly said “never make something more accurate than absolutely necessary”.

My recent paper presented a simple heuristic approach to climate science which plausibly proposed that a Millennial Turning Point (MTP) and peak in solar activity was reached in 1991.

Zharkova et al 2015 DOI:10.10381/srep15683 says ” Dynamo waves are found generated with close frequencies whose interaction leads to beating effects responsible for the grand cycles (350-400 years) superimposed on a standard 22 year cycle. This approach opens a new era in investigation and confident prediction of solar activity on a millenium timescale. ”

More details HERE including graphics and reference to the Maunder Minimum.


Parker Solar Probe Becomes Fastest-Ever Spacecraft

Parker Solar ProbAt about 10:54 p.m. EDT, Parker Solar Probe surpassed 153,454 miles per hour — as calculated by the mission team — making it the fastest-ever human-made object relative to the Sun. This breaks the record set by the German-American Helios 2 mission in April 1976.

Parker Solar Probe will repeatedly break its own records, achieving a top speed of about 430,000 miles per hour in 2024.

Source: NASA 

More details from NASA:

Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.

In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun.

In 2017, the mission was renamed for Eugene Parker, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. In the 1950s, Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars—including our Sun—give off energy. He called this cascade of energy the solar wind, and he described an entire complex system of plasmas, magnetic fields, and energetic particles that make up this phenomenon. Parker also theorized an explanation for the superheated solar atmosphere, the corona, which is – contrary to what was expected by physics laws — hotter than the surface of the sun itself. This is the first NASA mission that has been named for a living individual.

Parker can provide significant scientific insight into the next grand minimum, thus we will follow the program and the results on this blog. The first data dump will come in early December.

Parker will plunge toward the sun 24 more times in the next 8 years, breaking many records en route, and provide the scientist an opportunity to observe the next grand minimum up close if we are on the cusp of the Next Grand Minimum. Here’s the timeline.

Parker orbit_strip

H/T to Spaceweather.com with more details.

Stay tuned this is going to be an exciting venture into grand minimum science.

A New Space Weather Metric

This is an interesting post at Spaceweather.com.

The daily Thermosphere Climate Index (TCI) is now on Spaceweather.com. TCI is a relatively new space weather metric that tells us how the top of Earth’s atmosphere (or “thermosphere”) is responding to solar activity. During Solar Maximum, the top of our atmosphere heats up and expands. Right now the opposite is happening. Solar Minimum conditions are in effect, and this is causing the upper atmosphere to cool off


TCI was invented by Martin Mlynczak of the Langley Research Center along with other NASA and university colleagues. For the past 17 years they have been using the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite to monitor the wattage of infrared emissions from the top of the atmosphere. Recently, they realized that those measurements could be used to summarize the state of the thermosphere in a single daily index, the TCI, expressed in watts (W). Moreover, they learned to calculate TCI going back in time all the way to the 1940s, thus placing current conditions in a historical context.

So where do we stand? Right now TCI=4.6×1010 W. That means the top of Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 10 times cooler than it was during the record-setting Solar Max of 1957-58 (TCI=49.4×1010 W). The record low value for TCI, 2.1×1010 W, was set during the Solar Minimum of 2009. It’s still not that cold in the thermosphere, although we’re getting close.

You can monitor daily values of TCI right here on SpaceWeather.com. TCI not only tracks the slow progression of the 11-year solar cycle, but also it can change suddenly in response to solar flares and geomagnetic storms. As these events occur, we’ll be writing about them to raise awareness of the many ways the sun can dump energy into Earth’s atmosphere. Stay tuned!

Look at the TCI for the 1970 and you may recall the concern over global cooling, the coming of the next little ice age. The past cycle was cooler than the 1970s cycle, yet the global warming scare tactics continue.  It will be interesting to watch the TCI change over the next eleven years.  If it stays cold, this could be a pointer to the Next Grand Minimum. In the words of the folks at Spaceweather .com “Stay Tuned!”

Climate and the Solar Magnetic Field

Presentation by Professor Valentina Zharkova

When: Wednesday 31st October, from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Where: 55 Tufton Street, Westminster, SW1P 3QL

Principal component analysis (PCA) of the solar background magnetic field observed from the Earth, revealed four pairs of dynamo waves, the pair with the highest eigen values are called principal components (PCs).

PCs are shown to be produced by magnetic dipoles in inner and outer layers of the Sun, while the second pair of waves is assumed produced by quadruple magnetic sources and so on. The PC waves produced by a magnetic dipole and their summary curve were described analytically and shown to be closely related to the average sunspot number index used for description of solar activity. Based on this correlation, the summary curve was used for the prediction of long-term solar activity on a millennial timescale. This prediction revealed the presence of a grand cycle of 350-400 years, with a remarkable resemblance to the sunspot and terrestrial activity features reported in the past millennia: Maunder (grand) Minimum (1645-1715), Wolf (grand) minimum (1200), Oort (grand) minimum (1010-1050), Homer (grand) minimum (800-900 BC); the medieval (900-1200) warm period, Roman (400-10BC) and other warm periods.

This approach also predicts the modern grand minimum upcoming in 2020-2055. By utilising the two principal components of solar magnetic field oscillations and their summary curve, we extrapolate the solar activity backwards one hundred millennia and derive weaker oscillations with a period of 2000-2100years (a super-grand cycle) reflecting variations of magnetic field magnitude. The last super-grand minimum occurred during Maunder Minimum with magnetic field growing for 500 years (until ~2150) and decreasing for another 500 years. The most likely nature of this interaction will be discussed and used to explain long-term variations of solar magnetic field and irradiance observed from the Earth. [Emphasis Added]
Invitation Link is HERE. Link Fixed.

If there is a reader that attends this presentation please write up a summary and post in the comments.  Thanks.

Update 10-20-18:  HERE is  a link to a YouTube Interview of  Professor Valentina Zharkova

Hunger Stones And Tree Ring Evidence Suggests Solar Cycle Influence On Climate

The Solar Cycle is responsible for extreme weather and Climate change According to Tree ring and Hunger Stone events

by Francis Tucker Manns Ph.D., P.Geo (Ontario) Artesian Geological Research


  • Extreme weather events, mostly drought are considered, but floods as well, correspond to solar minima in more than 75% (18 out of 24 of the cases known).
  • Current concentrations of carbon dioxide cannot be invoked for extreme weather in the historical past.
  • The sun controls the climate of the Earth.
  • During summer it is inevitable that lightning storms ignite fires and produce heavy rain. The intensity of what we have come to call extreme weather is magnified by standing Rossby waves.
  • Sunspot research tends to emphasize sunspot peaks and sunspot numbers; more may be gained by evaluating trough events and peak and trough frequencies.

Full Details at Watts Up With That


The Chill Of Solar Minimum

This is from the SpaceWeather.com

The sun is entering one of the deepest Solar Minima of the Space Age. Sunspots have been absent for most of 2018, and the sun’s ultraviolet output has sharply dropped. New research shows that Earth’s upper atmosphere is responding.

“We see a cooling trend,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA’s Langley Research Center. “High above Earth’s surface near the edge of space, our atmosphere is losing heat energy. If current trends continue, the upper atmosphere could soon set a Space Age record for cold.”

These results come from the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite. SABER monitors infrared emissions from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air 100 to 300 kilometers above our planet’s surface. By measuring the infrared glow of these molecules, SABER can assess the thermal state of gas at the very top of the atmosphere–a layer researchers call “the thermosphere.”

“The thermosphere always cools off during Solar Minimum. It’s one of the most important ways the 11-year solar cycle affects our planet,” explains Mlynczak, the associate principal investigator for SABER.

When the thermosphere cools, it shrinks, literally decreasing the radius of the atmosphere. This shrinkage decreases aerodynamic drag on satellites in low-Earth orbit, extending their lifetimes. That’s the good news. The bad news is, it also delays the natural decay of space junk, resulting in a more cluttered environment around Earth.


To help keep track of what’s happening in the thermosphere, Mlynczak and colleagues recently introduced the “Thermosphere Climate Index” (TCI)–a number expressed in Watts that tells how much heat NO molecules are dumping into space. During Solar Maximum, the TCI is high (“Hot”); during Solar Minimum, it is low (“Cold”).

“Right now, it is very low indeed,” says Mlynczak. “SABER is currently measuring 33 billion Watts of infrared power from NO. That’s 10 times smaller than we see during more active phases of the solar cycle.”

Although SABER has been in orbit for only 17 years, Mlynczak and colleagues recently calculated TCI going all the way back to the 1940s. “SABER taught us to do this by revealing how TCI depends on other variables such as geomagnetic activity and the sun’s UV output–things we have been measuring for decades,” he explains. The historical record shows a strong correlation between TCI and the solar cycle:


As 2018 comes to an end, the thermosphere is on the verge of setting a Space Age record for Cold. “We’re not there quite yet,” says Mlynczak, “but it could happen in a matter of months.”

Soon, the Thermosphere Climate Index will be added to Spaceweather.com as a regular data feed, so our readers can monitor the state of the upper atmosphere just as researchers do. Stay tuned.


Measuring Solar Constant

Andy May has an excellent article at Watt’s Up With That. He asks the question and then examines the issue.

Do we know the solar output, over the past 261 years, accurately enough to say the Sun could not have changed 9.2 W/m2 or some large portion that amount? In other words, is the IPCC assumption that solar variability has a very small influence on climate valid?

Andy concludes:

In answer to the question posed at the beginning of the post, no we have not measured the solar output accurately enough, over a long enough period, to definitively say solar variability could not have caused all or a significant portion of the warming observed over the past 261 years. The most extreme reconstruction in Figure 7 (Lean, 2000), suggests the Sun could have caused 25% of the warming and this is without considering the considerable uncertainty in the TSI estimate. There are even larger published TSI differences from the modern day, up to 5 W/m2 (Shapiro, et al. 2011), (Soon, Connolly and Connolly 2015) and (Schmidt, et al. 2012). We certainly have not proven that solar variability is the cause of all or even a large portion of the warming, only that we cannot exclude it as a possible cause, as the IPCC appears to have done.

Read the full analysis How Constant is the Solar Constant HERE.


New Study Confirms Monster Volcano Katla Is Charging Up For An Eruption


Katla, a giant volcano hidden beneath the ice cap of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, is busy filling its magma chambers, new research confirms. An eruption in Katla would dwarf the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption, scientists have warned. The volcano is long “overdue” for an eruption, as it has historically erupted once every 40-80 years. The last known eruption in Katla was in 1918.

A group of Icelandic and British geologists have recently finished a research mission studying gas emissions from the volcano. The studies showed that Katla is emitting enormous quantities of CO2. The volcano releases at least 20 kilotons of C02 every day. Only two volcanoes worldwide are known to emit more CO2, Evgenia Ilyinskaya a volcanologist wit with the University of Leeds told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV.

These enormous CO2 emissions confirm significant activity in the volcano, Evgenia told RÚV: “It is highly unlikely that these emissions could be produced by geothermal activity. There must also be a magma build up to release this quantity of gas.”

Rest of the article is HERE.

Then consider this:

All of Iceland‘s major volcanoes showing unusually high levels of activity

Growing seismic activity in the major volcanic systems of Iceland has put scientists and civil protection authorities on alert. While there are no signs of immediate eruption in any of the major volcanic systems, growing seismic activity, growing geothermal activity and the expansion of the crust in these systems indicates they are all in an unusually active phase.

Iceland has at least 30 active volcanic systems, all of which are under constant observation by scientists. The four most active volcanoes and volcanic systems in Iceland are Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn both of which are located beneath Vatnajökull glacier, Katla, which is hidden under Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the cone volcano Hekla in South Iceland. Each has shown signs of growing activity in the past few months a geophysicist Páll Einarsson told the local newspaper Fréttablaðið.


What is the connection between solar minimum and volcanic activity?


Scientists Detect Strange And Unexpected Phenomenon In the Sun

Devdiscourse News Desk 29 Aug 2018, 01:18 PM

New research by US scientists has detected that the Sun is emitting a higher than expected amount of high-energy light consisting of gamma rays. But the most unusual thing is that the rays with the highest energy appear when the star is at its least active point, according to the study, which is published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

The work is the first investigation that has examined gamma rays over most of the solar cycle, a period of about 11 years during which the activity of the star increases and decreases.

The group of scientists, led by astrophysicist Tim Linden, analyzed data that NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope collected between August 2008 and November 2017. The observations included a period of low solar activity in 2008 and 2009, a period of greatest activity in 2013 and a reduction in activity to the minimum before the start of a new cycle in 2018.

The team tracked the number of solar gamma rays emitted every second, as well as their energies and where they came from.

The team reported that during the years analyzed, the number of gamma rays emitted was so high (more than 50,000 million electron volts, or GeV) that all predictions were exceeded. However, interestingly, rays with energies above 100 GeV appeared only during the minimum solar activity.

Even rarer is that the Sun seems to emit gamma rays from different parts of its surface at different times of the cycle. During the solar minimum, gamma rays came mainly from an area near the equator, while during solar maximum, when the level of the star’s activity was high, the rays were grouped near the poles. [Emphasis added]

All this is much rarer than predicted, said the astrophysicist John Beacom of Ohio State University in Columbus.

The scientist stressed that this unusual activity could mean that the Sun’s magnetic fields are much more powerful, much more variable and have a much stranger shape than we expected.

In addition, the expert stressed that high-energy gamma rays can offer new possibilities for the study of magnetic fields in the upper layer of the solar surface, called the photosphere.

Fields cannot be seen with a telescope, says Beacom. “But cosmic rays that travel there and the gamma rays they send are messengers of the terrible conditions that exist in the photosphere, said the scientist.

My question is what does this mean for us on the planet earth? See the highlighted text. If during the minimum the gamma rays come from near the equator, we should detect more on earth as opposed to those emitted at the poles. When a gamma ray strikes the top of the atmosphere, it initiates a cascade of particles, which in turn produces a flash of blue light. How could an increase in gamma rays impact our climate during solar minimum? Cosmic rays produce the same Compton scattering and are thought to increase cloud cover. Thoughts?