Monday, March 3, 2014

A Little Solar Update

I've been posting updates on the solar cycle roughly every six months for a while, with my last one in early January.  In that post, I suggested we might be seeing a second peak in this cycle, just like the previous cycle (23), but that it was too early to really know.  It is still looking like we'll have a double peak.

The sun let loose an X5 class flare last week to close out February (actually X4.9), and the last month has been the most active of the current cycle.  Both sunspot number (here) and the 10.7 cm Solar Flux reached their cycle highs at the end of February. 
An X5 flare is noteworthy, and under precisely the right conditions might be able to cause damage to things on earth.  Fortunately, this flare was directed almost 90 degrees to our direction and while we got some effects from it, they were of the type you need instruments to see. 

Anthony Watts at Watts Up With That, one of the big name blogs concerned with the truth about climate change, has a series of interesting plots and text comparing this cycle to past cycles, including the Dalton Minimum in cycle 5 around 1800.  It's a rather interesting set of plots. This one, for example, shows how the current cycle is the lowest peak in about 100 years (green arrow marking "End of the Little Ice Age")
While we here in Florida have had a mild winter, at least in terms of dramatic weather events, it seems much of the country is having a much snowier and colder winter than in quite some time, with the Great Lakes looking to exceed the percentage of ice cover they had in 1994, and it looks like the all time record ice cover from the 1970s is in the realm of possibility.    


  1. About fell out of my chair the other day when I looked at one of the monitors in the shack and saw the sunspot number was over 270. I keep the solar / propagation gadget on the wide screen monitor along with PSK reporter.

  2. HF band conditions have been good.

    10 Meters is open until after sunset, and 20 is open until 0100 or 0200!

  3. Panhandle Florida had colder than usual conditions, it snowed! Fairly uncommon there like once a decade maybe.