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Space Science

Sunspots Return 276

Posted by kdawson
from the try-this-proven-acne-cure dept.
We're emerging from the longest, deepest sunspot drought since 1913 (we discussed its depths here) with the appearance of a robust group of sunspots over the weekend. Recently we discussed a possible explanation for the prolonged minimum. The Fox News article quotes observer Michael Buxton of Ocean Beach, Calif.: "This is the best sunspot I've seen in two years." jamie found a NASA site where you can generate a movie of the recent sunspot's movement — try selecting the first image type and bumping the resolution to 1024. The magnetic field lines are clearly visible.
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Sunspots Return

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  • wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by NotWithABang (1570431) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:33PM (#28612623)

    "This is the best sunspot I've seen in two years."

    ... MAN does this guy need to get laid.

    • Re:wow. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:36PM (#28612663)

      Don't we all, man, don't we all...

    • by gubers33 (1302099)
      Look at the brightside he has new masturbation material to last him the next two years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jollyreaper (513215)

      "This is the best sunspot I've seen in two years."

      ... MAN does this guy need to get laid.

      For all you know he could be one of those bad-ass astronomers they make movies about and he could have been sitting at the 'scope looking at the spot while getting a blow job from a hot chick like in Swordfish.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        For all you know he could be one of those bad-ass astronomers they make movies about and he could have been sitting at the 'scope looking at the spot while getting a blow job from a hot chick like in Swordfish.

        Always found that amusing. In reality somebody with the skills to crack that firewall (or encryption key - whatever. haven't seen that movie in ages) would probably be the geekiest looking guy in existence. That doesn't fit with societal views of the archetypal badass though.

        It's kinda like in horror movies. Any movie involving an exorcism or something that requires the presence of a priest who's gonna get the job done must always portray their priest as the oddball priest who swears, smokes, drinks, ba

      • That scene would have played great if the gender roles had been reversed: Expert female hacker forced into sex, at gunpoint, by gangsters. Can be clearly heard saying "no" a couple of times. Hey, but in the end, she enjoyed it really, just like they all do.

        Actually, the male rape is less offensive to me than the technical nonsense in the movie. That film only has two saving graces IMO.

  • CQ DX (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:37PM (#28612691) Homepage Journal

    CQ DX here we come! Time to hang wire and pound brass!

    73, w7com

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by endianx (1006895)
      My HOA doesn't allow hanging wire, you insensitive clod!

      73, KJ4BRU
    • by W2IRT (679526)

      Four elements on 15m, seven elements on 10m and two elements on 12m up at 85 feet -- plus 1500 Watts. It's about time I put a few more new ones in the log somewhere above 20!
      I can hardly wait till CQWW this fall if conditions are this good or better. (Of course, I'm still hoping for a good season on 80 and 160 this winter, too!)

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        Quarter wave vertical on 20m, with a loading coil I can add for 40m. 50W (for licensing reasons) from my 30-year-old Trio TS-520. Window-rattling reports all over Europe. You don't need a big expensive setup to get out there.

        Now, all I need to do is get my CW up to 25wpm...

        73s, 2M0YEQ

    • Re:CQ DX (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AB3A (192265) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:15PM (#28613203) Homepage Journal

      DX from the other side of the earth on 10 meters at 1 AM? I remember those days. Now if only we could find a way to get the LIDS to learn how to troll the Internet, why we might actually have a civilized conversation on the air!

    • by fatboy (6851)

      I am sure glad to see ole' Sol is waking up again. I was surprised to make as many contacts as I did on field day, with just a simply wire loop thrown up in the trees.

      --KE4PJW

  • by geogob (569250) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:48PM (#28612849)

    who tagged this NSFW. Seriously.

    It's nice to see the new solar cycle is flaring up. I miss those nice auroras we could this during the last solar peak. Haven't seen one in about 3 years now. Some were so bright that you could see them in the city, very early in the evening.(at 56ÂN Magnetic Latitude).

    • by decipher_saint (72686) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:54PM (#28612915) Homepage

      Ever wonder why your parents told you not to look directly at the sun?

      IT'S NAKED

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by eln (21727)

        Ever wonder why your parents told you not to look directly at the sun?

        IT'S NAKED

        Totally true. Being a rebellious kid, I did look directly at the sun, and it was not only naked, it was HOT! So hot that I started playing with myself while looking directly at it. I must have done that for hours, and you know what? They were right about masturbation making you go blind too!

  • Is it just me ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ls671 (1122017) * on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:49PM (#28612861) Homepage

    Is it just me and where I live or have last summer and winter been pretty warm while this current summer seems cooler with the return of the sun's spot ? ;-)))

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BigJClark (1226554)

      It is you. Where I live, Northern Alberta, Canada, this past winter had been bitterly cold, with a fair amount of snow on the ground until mid may, and this summer has been very cold and dreary.

      You can trust that I was cursing David Suzuki and all other global warming opportunists while I was walking to work in -45 degrees.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JobyOne (1578377)
      It's you and where you live. Where I live (Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA) we had an unusually warm and dry winter, and are currently in the middle of a slightly hot and unusually humid summer.

      I don't like it one bit. Our moisture is supposed to come from melting snow in the mountains...not torrential downpours ruining cars, roofs and vegetation with hail and flooding roads because the ground is too dry and hard to absorb all that at once.
    • Re:Is it just me ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @05:13PM (#28614117) Homepage

      Because local climate suddenly equates to global mean temperature? Huh... go figure...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Because local climate suddenly equates to global mean temperature? Huh... go figure...

        Um... Because solar weather affects global weather.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      It's just you - here in the Pacific Northwet, it's been exactly the opposite.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:52PM (#28612895)
    I saw the tag but haven't seen this explicitly mentioned yet: one theory is that lack of sunspots causes Earth to warm up. (There is a very strong negative correlation between sunspot activity and temperature on Earth.)

    Maybe now we'll find out who's right.
    • It's all part of Karl Rove's nefarious plan ...
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:02PM (#28613007) Homepage Journal

      Because I betcha that if Congress gets Cap and Trade in place, throw in some Kyoto claims, that in a few years if we see a cooling trend beyond our current one, they will lay claim to proof they were right.

      In other words, the salesmen won. No matter the out come they will claim to have proven themselves. In the end all we get will be more embedded taxes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SnarfQuest (469614)

        If the temp doesn't drop, then Obama will blaim it on Bush, just like everything else.

      • by jdgeorge (18767)

        To the best of my knowledge, nobody is predicting a long-term cooling trend based on any activity promoted by those in favor of reducing and managing carbon dioxide emissions. The intent of those efforts (whether or not they succeed) is to slow down or halt the long term warming trend.

    • by mordors9 (665662) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:04PM (#28613031)
      You guys with your wacky theories that the Sun may affect our temperatures..
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DarkHelmet (120004)
      No it doesn't [youtube.com].
      • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @05:32PM (#28614395)
        I was wrong about the correlation being negative, but I was not wrong about the correlation. But one thing pointed out in your video, that solar activity has not corresponded to temperature in just the last few years, is totally meaningless. Long-term trends are the only ones that matter. And as for long-term predictions, nothing comes close to beating the analysis of sunspots. The science is good. Very good.

        I'll see your YouTube video, and raise you one:

        video [youtube.com]
        video [youtube.com]

        And a whole bunch of articles:

        article [typepad.com]
        article [wordpress.com]
        article [bbc.co.uk]
        article [examiner.com]
        article [mlive.com]
        article [wordpress.com]
    • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:12PM (#28613163) Homepage

      So, what, the last 50 years of steady warming, during which multiple sunspot cycles occurred, isn't enough for you? Or are you just a big fan of cherry-picking data to support your pet conclusions?

      • Um, I'm thinking GP might have it other-way-around. Sunspots are caused by violent electromagnetic activity on the sun; more active = hotter, or at least that is what I had heard.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Abcd1234 (188840)

          And, once again, it doesn't make sense, as the global temperature should then correlate with the sunspot cycles, and in the last 50 years, it hasn't.

        • Yes, I had it backwards. It is a positive correlation, not a negative one. But not for the reasons you mention. The sunspot activity tends to blow away the solar winds, allowing more radiation to get through to Earth's surface.
      • There are multiple cycles at work, not just the famous 10.7 year cycle. But even that cycle is highly variable... and actually that is the point: it is the LENGTH of the cycles that correspond to temperature, not the amplitude. And we have had some pretty long cycles just lately.
    • by Nautical Insanity (1190003) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:12PM (#28613167)

      There is a very strong negative correlation between sunspot activity and temperature on Earth.

      Aha! So global warming is causing the sunspots to disappear!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Could you back this up with some data. If anything, the inverse is true. The last 50 years have seen a large increase in the number of sunspots per solar cycle.

    • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:51PM (#28613755)

      There are some interesting data available on Earth's albedo (reflectivity): http://earth.myfastforum.org/sutra1069.php [myfastforum.org] Check out the linked sources, in particular.

      Summary: there is some evidence that Earth's albedo has decreased by as much as 2% (absolute, almost 10% relative) in the past twenty years. A decrease in albedo means less visible light is being reflected by the planet, implying that more is being absorbed, which would tend to increase planetary heat content.)

      A 2.0% variation in albedo is huge: over twice the effect of all anthropogenic greenhouse gases combined (6.8 W/m**2 vs about 5 W/m**2). However, because much of the change is due to changes in cloud cover, one must also account for the changes in infrared absorption from different kinds of clouds, which makes a head-to-head comparison tricky. However, while the effect of different types of cloud cover can reduce the effect of albedo variations, the residual is still as large or larger than current estimates of human greenhouse gas contributions to climate forcing.

      Final grain of salt: albedo is a physically meaningful term, unlike "global average temperature", but it is still very tricky to measure, and therefore these results should be taken with a grain of salt. However, the magnitude of the effect is such that it is difficult--but not impossible--to imagine it not having a pretty major influence on climate.

      Cloud cover maybe correlated with cosmic ray flux, which may be correlated with sunspot activity.

      Based on the data we have, it appears Earth's albedo has been anomalously low in the past decade or more, and may now be popping back up to something closer to the long term average (0.315 as opposed to as low as 0.305 in the past decade). If that is the case, then we can expect to see a pronounced drop in "global average temperature" in the next few years.

      If that happens, then climate forcing due to albedo variation is going to start looking pretty plausible as a significant cause of the high "global average temperatures" seen in the past decade.

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @05:05PM (#28613971) Homepage

      I saw the tag but haven't seen this explicitly mentioned yet: one theory is that lack of sunspots causes Earth to warm up. (There is a very strong negative correlation between sunspot activity and temperature on Earth.

      Nope. People have been looking for correlations between sunspots and weather for years, but never found much. If there's a correlation, it's weak. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/fsd/astro/sunspots.php [noaa.gov]

      To the extent that there's any correlation, however, it tends to the the opposite of what you said-- positive correlation between sunspots and temperature, not negative. The "Maunder Minimum" period of very few or no sunspots occurred about the same time as the "Little Ice Age" of cold temperatures. (But note that a single period of low temperatures ocurring during a period of low sunspots, however extended, does not mean statistically significance).

      If that correlation were indeed true, then the recent solar minimum would have been correlated with low temperatures, and hence would have been masking some of the effect of global warming-- in other words, that greenhouse-effect warming is actually occurring to a greater extent than the data shows.

      • On the contrary. It is anything but weak. It is a firmly established correlation. Please see the links I posted above.

        People are talking about warming occurring for just a few years, and that is completely meaningless against the long-term trends. A few years mean nothing. But even if that were not so, the major determining factor is the LENGTH of the solar cycles, not the height. And we have had some long cycles.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The increase in temperature of planet Earth caused by Global Warming has changed the ambient temperature in our Solar System ever so slightly. This has caused irreparable damage the the Sun's delicate jet stream. The Cap and Trade bill will be too late to prevent Supernova.

  • Go check it out at http://www.solarcycle24.com/ [solarcycle24.com]

    This guy's everything about the sun that one can track. In particular, he has an image of the sun on the upper left hand corner that shows how pathetic this sunspot group.

    I wouldn't say the sunspot drought is over, until there is sustained progress.

  • Man saved Earth? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spy Handler (822350) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:20PM (#28613261) Homepage Journal
    IIRC, the last time sunspots were at a minimum like this, earth was in the little ice age, and hundreds of millions of people died due to crops freezing, glaciers overrunning towns, disease, etc.

    So maybe we're supposed to be in another little ice age, but all the greenhouse gases warmed the planet and saved us?

    O____O
    • by JobyOne (1578377)
      "Saving" the Earth is a very anthropocentric way of putting it

      Assuming you're right we may have accidentally "saved" our own skins, along with a number of other species, but we haven't "saved" the Earth at all. We've impacted the progression of climate and evolution, sure, but the Earth was here for billions of years before us and will be here for billions of years after we're extinct (or off this rock, or evolved into something more exciting if you're feeling optimistic).

      We have plenty of power to s
      • by Spy Handler (822350) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @06:39PM (#28615223) Homepage Journal
        Yeah you're right, it should've been "Man may have saved its own civilization"

        Personally I prefer ice age fauna myself, I think sabertooth tigers and and Wooly Mammoths are really cool. Also the sea levels were so low, there was a huge landmass called Beringia where Bearing Sea is now, and the east coast of USA extended 500 miles beyond the current shoreline.

        But however interesting it may be, a full ice age would be a total catastrophe for human civilization, probably 95% of humans would be wiped out.

        It would be cool though, if mankind suddenly got hold of super technology (maybe from Outsiders or Puppeteers) and migrated to Ringworld or something, and Earth reverted to an ice age...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by The_Duck271 (1494641)

      IIRC, the last time sunspots were at a minimum like this, earth was in the little ice age

      No; during the little ice age there was ~50 years of almost no sunspots; we've only had ~2. There was a solar minimum earlier this century deeper than this one (unless this one goes on for a while yet).

  • by edmicman (830206) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:42PM (#28613613) Homepage Journal

    Obviously it's man-made global (solar?) warming that is causing this increased sunspot activity...

  • That's what happens when you stop using Clearasil!

  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @05:12PM (#28614085)
    If the this sunspot cycle had kept on schedule, then the peak activity would have been around 2012. Each cycle Earthlings become more dependent on their satellites (e.g. GPS) and electric grid. Both of these can be severely disrupted by large solar storms. My pet hypothesis is that nastiness in 2012 could have been caused by the peak, but that is unlikely now.
  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @06:54PM (#28615367)

    Since there will of course be a lot of nonsense about this having implications for the reliability of the IPCC's statements on climate change and so on, it is worth posting the following:

    We have direct measurements of incoming and outgoing solar radiation. We have satellites in orbit that detect incoming as well as outgoing radiation of all wavelengths. From these direct measurements we know that the recent change in outgoing radiation is greater than the changes in incoming radiation. We know that the change is in the region of the spectrum where CO2 and other greenhouse gasses absorb radiation the most. We also know from isotopic analysis that a majority of the increase in CO2 concentration is fossil in origin ( fossil fuels are virtually depleted in Carbon 14 since it decays radioactively over periods of several thousand years ), thus excluding the possibility that what we see is a feedback effect from changes in solar activity.

    Thus we more or less know that the sun is not to blame, no matter how poorly we may understand its sunspots, cycles and whatnot. The change in radiation balance is due to neither a direct solar effect nor the type of feedbacks that occur during ice age termination. If either of the two was the case then the isotopic studies would have detected it since the CO2 in oceans and plants have comparable C14 concentrations as the atmosphere. Instead what we see is an increased concentration of fossil carbon in the atmosphere, and together with it a reduction in outgoing infra-red radiation consistent with the absorption spectra of the greenhouse gases we emit.

  • 10/19/09, the end is nigh!

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