Sun Is Weakest In 200 years

Sunspot Activity at Record Low, And Magnetic Orientation Is Puzzling

Reuters and Space.com noted in September that sunspot activity was at a 100-year low.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that this sun’s solar maximum is the weakest in 200 Years:

Based on historical records, astronomers say the sun this fall ought to be nearing the explosive climax of its approximate 11-year cycle of activity—the so-called solar maximum. But this peak is “a total punk,” said Jonathan Cirtain, who works at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as project scientist for the Japanese satellite Hinode, which maps solar magnetic fields.

“I would say it is the weakest in 200 years,” said David Hathaway, head of the solar physics group at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

***

“There is no scientist alive who has seen a solar cycle as weak as this one,” said Andrés Munoz-Jaramillo, who studies the solar-magnetic cycle at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.

***

At the same time, scientists can’t explain the scarcity of sunspots. While still turbulent, the sun seems feeble compared with its peak power in previous decades. “It is not just that there are fewer sunspots, but they are less active sunspots,” Dr. Schrijver said.

***

Several solar scientists speculated that the sun may be returning to a more relaxed state after an era of unusually high activity that started in the 1940s.

“More than half of solar physicists would say we are returning to a norm,” said physicist Mark Miesch at the High Altitude Observatory in Boulder, Colo., who studies the internal dynamics of stars. “We might be in for a longer state of suppressed activity.”

In January, Nasa warned that we might be on the verge of another “Maunder minimum” … where low solar output leads to a mini ice age.

We could be heading into another Maunder minimum … or a shorter and less severe cooling trend.

The truth is that no one knows.  As Reuters reported earlier this year:

Giuliana DeToma, a solar scientist at the High Altitude Observatory in Colorado … admitted “we will do not know how or why the Maunder Minimum started, so we cannot predict the next one.”

Many solar experts think the downturn is linked a different phenomenon, the Gleissberg cycle, which predicts a period of weaker solar activity every century or so. If that turns out to be true, the sun could remain unusually quiet through the middle of the 2020s.

But since the scientists still do not understand why the Gleissberg cycle takes place, the evidence is inconclusive. The bottom line is that the sun has gone unusually quiet and no one really knows why or how it will last.

Indeed, scientists are largely mystified by the sun, and are just starting to learn about interactions between the sun and the Earth.

For example, the Wall Street Journal notes:

To complicate the riddle, the sun also is undergoing one of its oddest magnetic reversals on record.

Normally, the sun’s magnetic north and south poles change polarity every 11 years or so. During a magnetic-field reversal, the sun’s polar magnetic fields weaken, drop to zero, and then emerge again with the opposite polarity. As far as scientists know, the magnetic shift is notable only because it signals the peak of the solar maximum, said Douglas Biesecker at NASA’s Space Environment Center.

But in this cycle, the sun’s magnetic poles are out of sync, solar scientists said. The sun’s north magnetic pole reversed polarity more than a year ago, so it has the same polarity as the south pole.

“The delay between the two reversals is unusually long,” said solar physicist Karel Schrijver at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, Calif.

Scientists said they are puzzled, but not concerned, by the unusual delay. They expect the sun’s south pole to change polarity next month, based on current satellite measurements of its shifting magnetic fields.

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  • Tonto

    This much we can know. Reality is infinitely complex.

    Science is not up to the task of accurately describing reality, except in retrospect, and even then only partially and insignificantly. The problem is, infinity is a number that has an inestimable quality.

    Science and painstaking measurements can almost always tell us exactly what time the sun will rise tomorrow morning. But science cannot accurately predict the weather at the same moment in time, except in highly generalized terminology.

    I am in Maine, northern, Maine, 250 miles NE of Montreal. It is cold for our November right now. We had an inch of snow on the ground last night. It covered everything. Not all of the snow melted today. We did not see one day in the nineties this past summer, which is unusual.

    All my tomatoes blighted because we had so much rain. The Daikon Radishes grew well. For those who suffer dietary problems, (gall bladder and kidney stones), radishes are a wonder-food. But do not eat radishes like apples. Slice radishes thin, and chop them once sliced. They go raw into sandwiches, and cooked into soups, stir fry and casseroles. Root crops are necessary for a healthy diet.

  • Tonto

    This much we can know. Reality is infinitely complex.

    Look at what just happened in the Philippines. This sort of earthly catastrophe happens everywhere over time. Any one of us could be next. Over-populated, complex, scientific societies are like mousetraps, and, simply not equipped to cope with reality. Misery is widespread throughout the industrialized, bureaucratized and digitized world.

    Only those peoples who live a lifestyle that is essentially unchanged from a century ago are in stasis, and able to laugh at the rest of the world, which is in the throes of an ongoing cultural collapse and economic depression. The lesson is, slow down. Do not listen to those writers and leaders who speak of reform, progress, hope or change. Look to your clan’s historical roots, literally.

    The stock market is of course a fraud. If just a small fraction of a percent of the money is pulled from the stock market, everyone else will lose their shirt. So however, is the hyped-price of gold a fraud. If you seek relative personal wealth, security and comfort, buy yourself some gloves, a good pair of boots and a warm, hooded sweatshirt to wear under your coat. Forget about all this talk of revolution. A revolution is not coming. Winter is coming, and likely a big winter too. For the necessities of trudging through the snow, there’s nothing more comforting than winter-appropriate attire.

  • Professor Xavier Lambsbottle

    The sun is now under management. The Human race is incompetent and intervention was required to counter act climate change.

    • Just me

      Thank God for you Aliens. We’d be lost without you. Humans.

  • Dj

    Who cares.

    After all man is the source of global warming right? I’m certain Obama can create a star czar to fix it; and if he can’t he’ll tell us that the sun was previously sub-par with all those spots on it, and that we’ll be much happier with this star.

  • Dj

    … Imagine if we had just started observing the sun this decade; when the spots re-appeared in a few years, AlGore’s scientific community would freak out and insist that we spend trillions to prevent them.

  • wxguru

    All you need to know is this is the angular momentum and influence of the interplanetary magnetic field is the root cause of sunspots and longer term patterns in the sun’s magnetic field and then you are know longer a clueless minion at the mercy of NASA and other head scratching scientists. The information is out there. Duke University professor Nicolas Scafetta Ph.D has authored many papers on it: http://people.duke.edu/~ns2002/

    The current minimum through 2030 is fully explained here:

    http://landscheidt.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/11000-year-c14-graph-lines-up-perfectly-with-angular-momentum-graph/

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/bart-modeling-the-historical-sunspot-record-from-planetary-periods/

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/jackpot-jupiter-and-saturn-solar-cycle-link-confirmed/

  • wxguru

    All you need to know is this is the angular momentum and influence of the interplanetary magnetic field is the root cause of sunspots and longer term patterns in the sun’s magnetic field and then you are know longer a clueless minion at the mercy of NASA and other head scratching scientists. The information is out there. Duke University professor Nicolas Scafetta Ph.D has authored many papers on it: http://people.duke.edu/~ns2002/

    The current minimum through 2030 is fully explained here:

    http://landscheidt.wordpress.com/2009/01/21/11000-year-c14-graph-lines-up-perfectly-with-angular-momentum-graph/

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/bart-modeling-the-historical-sunspot-record-from-planetary-periods/

    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/jackpot-jupiter-and-saturn-solar-cycle-link-confirmed/

  • colinjames71

    Thunderbolts.info

    The scientists will always be mystified by the sun as long as they continue to believe it’s a nuclear furnace. It isn’t.

    • Eva Colera Bernal

      Yes, it’s an Electric Sun in an Electric Universe.

      Thunderbolts.info contains lots of information about this issue and the Thunderbolts Project channel in YouTube is very interesting and entertaining. I’ve been following both for several years.

      • colinjames71

        I friggin LOVE that stuff!

  • Ray Morrison

    It’s a Transformer of energies.. Let’s not forget it very cold in deep space, CME’s, throw HH0, Gamma Waves, Photon Waves and current eddies of electro magnetic energy, I would say graviton flux comes from a sun and mixes with all life spinning planets.! Gee What do you get when you mix two parts Hydrogen with one part oxygen..? Let me guess Water

  • apeman2502

    Sun activity is the lowest, or barium chloride and silver iodide is the densest?

  • john-andrew quinn

    Imagine if pea-brained humans – the ones who have f**ked planet Earth to a fine fare-thee-well as in Fukushima, Deepwater Horizon, fracking, tar sands, and countless other catastrophes, had their destructive little hands on the SUN! Holy Christ!

  • Ingaorama

    If that means the sun seam to e smaller in the sky…well..then i agree- anyway the sun have been acting like crazy this year- like having a dimmer on it..going up and down i brightness about 30-60 min …Then some day´s unusual bright and big- next day like it is far far away..small..and not same warmth coming from it- not enough to heat the soil up properly…Well..Im just a crazy sun-gazing person…so I think I notice …