Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Solar Cycle 25 Update #4

Going through previous posts, to see if I put numbers on Cycle 25 updates, I found that I posted about the first spots of the cycle being identified two years ago - to the day - January 12, 2020.  The way these cycles work is that the first spots appear at higher latitudes, that is, closer to the poles, and as the cycle progresses, they move toward the solar equator, a pattern often called a Butterfly pattern.  There's generally a period of overlap when spots from both cycles can be observed at the same time (determined by the magnetic polarity of the spots) and that happened at least until April of 2020, when Cycle 24 spots hadn't been seen in a while.  These folks say the first cycle 25 sunspot was seen in December of 2016.

As the new cycle started, it began to look to be rather more active than the official models were predicting.  I posted this diagram last August showing the progression of sunspot number being noticeably above the official predictions. 

This appeared August 4th on SpaceWeather.com.  The plot has been updated for the last five months, and posted at Spaceweather.com again.  The divergence between reality and the official forecast is even stronger. At this point, it looks like the cycle could go higher than predicted or the peak could be sooner.  Or both.

All of the conventional experts had been predicting this solar cycle would like the previous one - which was the weakest in a hundred years.  In these plots, the "official forecast" plot is the one NOAA (and by extension the US) has as its forecast.  In August of '20, I go into more details on some of these issues as I introduce a prediction by a new group that was very different from the official forecasts.  These guys were saying 25 could be in the top couple of strongest sunspot cycles ever.  

To be blunt, we see someone making a prediction like "this is going to be as strong as cycle 19" (the strongest cycle on record, peaking in 1957) virtually every cycle.  I've come to ignore them.  I'll note the prediction and see what really happens.  As I said along the way:

It's an interesting prediction, but when a new group comes along with a whole new way of looking at a problem that has been studied for years, they either suddenly revolutionize the field or fail and go away.  We'll see what happens with this prediction.

In the last few months, I came across a video by the leader of that prediction group, Dr. Scott McIntosh, that was made in early September of '21.  It's a half hour long video (32:11) and he both explains their model and updates it.  All of their prediction depends on predicting and identifying so-called 'termination' events:  landmarks marking the start and end of sunspot and magnetic activity cycles.  Some of their early predictions hadn't happened yet as of that date, and as a result, he lowered their prediction to put cycle 25 "in the top 10 strongest cycles" while saying we should know more in the next couple of months (next few solar rotations).  

Since we're now in the couple of solar rotations time period since the video, I'd like to see an update to their predictions.  The progress of the cycle, though, seems to make them look good.  Cycle 25 has been consistently stronger than the official forecast since activity started going up.


  1. I am glad. I was not wanting to live through a Maunder Minimum.

  2. If the US started paying a Maunder Minimum tax, could we lower the number of sunspots (and save the planet, or whatever). The Woke need a new cause to believe in. By 2026, as the number of sunspots diminish, they can take a victory lap - cash works. When the cycle begins again, they can demand more. money.

  3. We had a standing joke at one of the clubs I was in back in SoCal about "Yeah, Professor, but will it be as big as cycle 19 and help get us off the island?".

    I was only 6 years old when 19 peaked, but 7 years later when I was studying for my Novice the guys were still talking about it. Things like working JA's from Northern Illinois on 10 Meters using 5 Watts A.M. from a Benton Harbor Lunchbox feeding a dipole or vertical. Pretty cool to a 13-year old kid!

    I've noticed increased activity above 20 Meters. 17 has been active, along with 15 and (gasp!) 12 Meters. I still haven't heard much on 10, and I'm thinking about putting my dipole back up for 6 Meters. The last time I was on 6 was for a contest, using my FT-847, and that radio's been gone for well over a year.

    My full-size dipole up at >1 wavelength worked pretty well, so maybe I'll have some fun on 6 this year.

  4. I get so many different reports Greybeard. Are we going into a Maunder Minimum and the crop failures that occur or not?

    Or do we simply don't really Know?

    Inquiring gardeners who like to eat want to know

    1. We simply don't know. There's nothing different about that situation; we never know what's coming. We just have teams of people all over the planet doing complex analyses of previous cycles trying to understand them and publishing their guesses.

      My gut feeling is that when a group predicts a Maunder minimum or a cycle 19 high, I tend to ignore it. While those things happen, they're unusual. A few times in all of history. Unusual things don't happen all the time - by definition.

      Based on those plots above, I'd say it doesn't look like solar activity crashes in this cycle, which is going through about 2034. But as I always say, "I'm just some dood on the intertubes with a blog."

  5. Just got a notice the ARRL January VHF Contest is this weekend. Looks like I'll be stringing my 6 Meter dipole back up sooner than expected!

  6. The sun is charging up as we enter the galactic sheet. Got plasma?