Solar cycle 24 has been off to a slow start but NASA has been right behind it pushing like mad. In December 2006, David Hathaway of the Marshal Space Flight Center predicted Solar Cycle 24 would be the most intense in over 400 years. That’s not happening.
Then in January 2008, David Hathaway again stated that Solar Cycle 24 was taking off. There was a sunspot from the new cycle but one sunspot does not a solar cycle make.
Then in November 2008 David Hathaway said,
“I think solar minimum is behind us,” says sunspot forecaster David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
Then voila!! Today, April 14, 2011 an announcement that Solar Cycle 24 has started. Strange but the name Hathaway is nowhere to be seen. In my monitoring of the solar activity up until the latest data point, the sunspot number was right around 25. The prediction for this cycle at this point in its development was 50, so it was running right around half of what NASA said it would be. The reason for NASA’s enthusiasm is a sudden jump of one data point that falls right on the predicted curve. That was apparently cause for a celebration. In the course of time the prediction has now been revised to an approximate peak sunspot number of 90 that is half of the 2006 estimate.
It certainly seems premature to start dancing based on one point completely outside the trend of this new cycle. Up until today the current cycle appeared to be headed for a peak of 45 to 50. It will be interesting to see what happens. Although the spike seems out-of-place, it should be remembered that we artificially pigeon-hole the data into calendar months. The Sun doesn’t run on our calendar so next mont’s data point could be really low. Time will tell.
What is curious is the tendency of the AGW crowd to want to hurry the start of the new cycle and over-estimate its intensity. If the solar minimum was short and solar cycle 23 was short, the more likely Solar Cycle 24 would be more intense. With a more active Sun the myth of man-made climate disruption could continue with solar controlled higher temperatures. With a quiet Sun, a cooler climate becomes more likely and the AGW myth could be tossed out. AGW is being squashed by the current winter’s cold and snow, despite claims these events are consistent with a warming world. But then again, what isn’t?
Addendum: I have come to learn that David Hathaway has revised the NASA peak for SC24 at 62 which is a far cry from his first estimate. Apparently that 1st estimate was the result of a formula which, it would seems doesn’t work all that well. Kind of like the GCM’s of which NASA is so fond. Fact is that many sceptical of climate change caused by man who attribute most of the current warming to the Sun, had predicted a much more quiet Sun along the lines of the current solar progress. The late Timo Niroma and Piers Corbyn are among the most notable that got it right early on. Both had made predictions of the next cycle being on the light side also. They are not alone in these predictions but these two come to mind. I should be clear that I can not attribute any motives to Mr. Hathaway but it does seem strange that climate sceptics got it right and no one I know from the CO2 side got it right. And of course they were all on the alarmist side of high. What are the chances of that happening? I realize my sampling may not be huge but it certainly is significant. If 2 out of 3 AWG estimates fall in the 3rd standard deviation from the mean on the high side or further of the sceptics estimates, they are not part of the distribution of possible outcomes without a special cause associated. I’ll let you decide the special cause.