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Space Earth Science

The Sun Has First Spotless Month Since 1913 571

radioweather writes "August 2008 has made solar history. As of 00 UTC September 1st 2008 (5PM PST) we just witnessed the first spotless calendar month since June 1913.This was determined according to sunspot data from NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center, which goes back to 1749. In the 95 years since 1913, we've had quite an active sun, but activity has been declining in the last few years. The sun today is a nearly featureless sphere and has been spotless for 42 days total, but this is the first full calendar month since 1913 for a spotless sun. And there are other indicators of the sun being in a funk. Australia's space weather agency recently revised their solar cycle 24 forecast, pushing the expected date for a ramping up of cycle 24 sunspots into the future by six months." As one of the links above indicate, there was a "sunspeck" reported August 21/22, though. Reader MikeyTheK adds a link to a story at Daily Tech on the spotless record.
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The Sun Has First Spotless Month Since 1913

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  • by isa-kuruption ( 317695 ) <> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:39AM (#24843033) Homepage

    OH MY

    So... CO2 causes global warming, apparently on Mars and Jupiter too. Yet when sunspot activity decreases, this whole global warming trend slows down (to the tune of no increase of global temperature in over 8 years). And in the 1990s when sunspot activity was some of the highest ever recorded, global temperatures rose. I wonder if this is a coincidence.... or is it?

    So really... are you all still addicted to that theory? That it's all about the CO2?

  • by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:58AM (#24843365)

    2008 is going to be the coolest year of the 21st century so far. A combination of an el nina and low sunspot activity. But it's still on target to be one of the warmest years on record. It ought to have been one of the coldest years on record.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @10:59AM (#24843395)

    When a big solar storm turns off GPS for a few hours or days. I know some people that have become dependent on their nav-computers. A weak solar cycle may postpone this problem.

    This would allow GPS to become even more enmeshed in the Air Traffic Control system, making it hurt all the more when these problems happen. The system is expected to be able to provide positioning via other means than ADS-B (aka nextgen) during a GPS outage, but if we go a long time on GPS with no problems, the more surprised people will be when those expected problems do occur. BTW, IAAATCSDE (I am an air-traffic-control-systems-design-engineer), hence the anonymity. D

  • by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:04AM (#24843497) Journal

    It's quite strange. A friend of mine moved so I plucked his new address into my little gps nav unit and used it to find his house. A week later I thought about it and couldn't even think of how to get there so I pulled up the route and used it again with out a second thought. After about 2 months of this it dawned on me that I had no idea how to get there without my little nav unit. I finally forced my self to find it without the unit. One time doing that and I didn't need it any more.

  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:31AM (#24844077)
    And you have apparently are not up to date on the volcanic activity on the ocean floor in the Arctic.
  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:36AM (#24844185)

    Nasa [] is calling your statistic irrelevant. Not to mention that 1934 was warmer than 2001 by about 0.1 degrees celsius. I'd give it about 5-7 years before that record is broken - which should be right about the time we hit another sunspot maximum.

  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:43AM (#24844357)

    I think that "on-target" bit is a bit of wishful thinking on the part of climatologists that la nina will break and temps will shoot up.

    I the area I live, temperatures have been below average ALL year. This year we've had the latest snowfall I can remember in my lifetime, the latest date I can remember for the ice going off the lakes, unseasonably cold whether including the latest frost I can remember, a late start to spring planting.

    Where I live it would take considerably above average temperatures for the entire rest of the year to get this year even close to being just average. Its nowhere near top ten where I live.

    Cue the "it GLOBAL warming, your region might not be warmer," I certainly expect that response. However, that response reminds me of people who state that Mars' northern icecap is shrinking and the common debunking Global Warming alarmists give for that is that the warming on Mars is just "regional."

    What I'm seeing where I live with regards to Global Warming isn't convincing me that its a crisis. In fact, if we have another 4-5 years of unseasonably cold springs, I'd really begin to think global cooling was on the way. Yes, spring and summer where I live have been shockingly cold this year.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:53AM (#24844557) Homepage Journal

    Nasa [] is calling your statistic irrelevant. Not to mention that 1934 was warmer than 2001 by about 0.1 degrees celsius. I'd give it about 5-7 years before that record is broken - which should be right about the time we hit another sunspot maximum.

    I like that you're making falsifiable predictions. Most people talking about this issue won't even do that.

  • by NicknamesAreStupid ( 1040118 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @11:58AM (#24844663)
    Has anyone asked Ken Shatten about this? For the latest weather on the sun -- [].

    As for global warming, I was reminded by a friend that "the maximum temperature of Earth can be no higher than the maximum temperature of an equivalent black body, and the earth is approximately spherical and receives light from the sun on a cross-sectional area of a circle, but radiates thermal energy from the area of a sphere. The ratio of the spherical area to the circular area is four. Dividing the incoming energy flux by that gives the Earth an approximate maximum temperature of 285Kelvin. Again we have another inconsistency as this maximum temperature is below the widely reported global average temperature of 288Kelvin (17C). The maximum temperature found on the moon is approximately 390Kelvin." On Earth our maximum, like that of the moon, could be 117C. The official highest is around 57C, so we have another 60C possible increase!
  • by pseudorand ( 603231 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @12:18PM (#24845067)

    Actually, my tinfoil hat is much, much bigger than yours. The Powers That Be [PTB] (the queen, the rothchilds' the Colonel, etc.) control both the conservatives and liberals at the highest levels. They play us off each other and maintain their own power my ensuring the general public is clearly divided against each other, ignoring the rich and powerful who are the real problem.

    Here's how it works:
    The 'PTB' have recently given a lot of money and power to the libs to promote the global warming idea base on "science". This is a check on the conservatives, whom they slowly put in power over the last few decades in order to check the liberals they let in in the 60s and 70s, and so on. The dems will continue to gain power in congress and win the presidency this year, but the failure of Global Warming models, which all assume a constant input from the sun, and failed policies based on the incorrect global warming/evil CO2/oil shortage assumption, will give the 'PTB' the opening they need to put the conservatives back in power, thereby checking the soon-to-be-powerful dems. What's more, the failure of "science" will foster a mistrust of real science in the general public, keeping us ignorant and controllable.

    Some of you might point out that even if the top 1% have a greater portion of the wealth now than they did 50 years ago, our standard of living has steadily improved (at least in Europe and America). This is true in many respects, such as the portion of our income we spend on food, access to communication, healthcare technology, etc. It's false in many others, however, such as quality of food (tasted a tomato lately?) and quality of communication (TV, blogs, and underfunded print media narrowly focused on national issues, vs. community clubs like the Elks and Lions and well funded print media focused on local issues). Plus, you have to take into account opportunity cost. How much more could our lives have improved had government made better decisions.

    What's more, we've become dependent on a system controlled by a select few. Healthcare is better, but you'd better keep working or you won't be able to see a doctor when you need to. Home 'ownership' is up when you ignore mortgages, but real debt-free ownership is way down. Water and Mineral rights are independent of land, so even those who think they own land can have it effectively taken away at any time. They're handing out plenty of fish but jealously guarding the poles and nets.

    Remember, it's not the guy with the thin black mustache you've got to watch out for. If he were evil, he'd be a complete failure because he looks it. The truly successful evil person is the ones that convinces his victims that he's not good. As I said, my tinfoil hat is the 10-gallon kind.


  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:01PM (#24845829)

    "On the other hand there is plenty of evidence that Global Warming does not exist"

    No there isn't. All the evidence points towards global warming. It's not 100% reliable at present, but there's really no evidence that GW doesn't exist or is some sort of fallacy.

    "and it is being pushed by Liberals with an agenda."

    That is an unfortunate truth, that it's been jumped on by lovers of hyperbole, by luddites and socialists and all sorts of others with an agenda or something to sell.

    These two things are seperate.

  • Evidence? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:26PM (#24846219) Homepage Journal

    Where is your evidence of valid "scientific papers questioning global warming ending careers without ever seeing the light of day"?

    We have lots of real evidence of oil corporations funding fake science [] to deny climate change. Do you have real evidence of your conspiracy theory claims?

  • by infinite9 ( 319274 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:29PM (#24846273)

    (disclaimer: I'm a christian with a CS degree)

    After all, the Earth is about be destroyed in the Rapture anyways, so why do we care?

    I know you were joking. But I thought I'd throw in what christians actually believe. The earth isn't destroyed in the rapture, directly anyway. In the rapture, the christians (from other humans' perspective) simply disappear. You non-christians are left to fend for yourselves. :-)

    Having said that, christians have been predicting the rapture for centuries. And jesus comes right out and says that it's going to seem like it's taking forever and should be any minute when it's really far in the future.

    So it's silly for people to use that as an excuse to not care about the environment. The destruction of the environment is not a christian value so I'm not sure why these people are thinking like this. Must be either an extra helping of crazy, dumb, or both.

  • by gnuman99 ( 746007 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:47PM (#24846589) [] []

    Yes, stay in your magic fluff land in-spite of reality.

  • by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @01:56PM (#24846763)

    ...just because she believes in a deity who will end the world you assume she also believes that deity put us in charge of taking care of the earth? I know this is Slashdot, but don't put everyone who believes in a God or Gods into a single group please...

    Pretty much every established religion I know of sets forward the premise that one of our obligations for not being wiped off the planet summarily is being the caretakers.

    The various Abrahamic, the Dharmic, and the Taoic religions all present the idea in one form or the other.

    I know this is Slashdot, the realm of the overly pedantic, but please try not to have such a hair trigger. It was a valid assumption to make.

  • by griffman99h ( 671362 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @02:30PM (#24847323)
    I'm no expert. I just stare at the sun too much :p

    first off. sun spots do tend to last longer than 12 days.... the larger objects can sometimes be recognized on their second or third passes. that's more common during solar max...

    now If you look at the green, EIT spectrum from (which reveals magnetic forces really well) where the sunspots are going to form is very obvious.. so even the minute "sun specks" are visible as large areas of twisting magnetic energy. the magnetic field lines have to get pretty concentrated to form a visible sunspot...

    ...also keep in mind SOHO wasn't in space back in 1913 so what they are calling a "sun Speck" would not have been a visible "spot" to the telescopes of the time..

    I find it funny they keep pushing back cycle 24 start time.. a year ago it was suppose to be a noticeable increase back in April. the lengths people go to so as to avoid a panic just astounds me.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @04:38PM (#24849631) Journal

    At this point, she has as much evidence for her world-view as you have for your prophecy that "east coast of America is submerged under the sea" is a real prospect.

    People of diffeent religions should work on tolerance of one another's religious views.

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @04:39PM (#24849651) Homepage

    "More obvious".

    So wait ... something VERY large is warming up. Let's see ... 2 sources of power could be responsible ... One is the sun ... the other is human power consumption.

    One source of power emits about 400 000 000 000 000 000 GW of power constantly, and has indeed been increasing in power output by nearly 2% (which is more power than the human race will consume before the end of the solar system at current rates)

    The other source is lots of tiny specs, totalling less than 700 GW, and, mostly during summer in the northern hemisphere, drops below 500.

    Note that a 0.02% increase in output by the large source is literally enough power to biol the oceans into space. It's actual increase in power output is enough power to vaporize the entire planet ten times over.

    The planet gets a little bit warmer, notably ... about 2% ( a bit more, a bit less, depending on whether you believe certain "adjustments" both up and down of the temperature readings). Now who would be responsible ?

    I realise that you've got GW science, but let's not kid ourselves. The "obvious" source of warming is the sun. Let's not forget that the sun caused at least 7 massive heatwaves, some lasting thousands of years, and double as many ice ages.

    Can you please describe GW as a complex, non-trivial and counterintuitive scientific theory that *might* match observations ? You're making many people look *VERY* bad)

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday September 02, 2008 @05:30PM (#24850597) Homepage

    To pass it, the alarmist would have to advocate replacing all measures to combat CO2 emissions, with some method of internalization of the environmental costs (possibly with a subsidy to those that remove it from the atmosphere). That means they would advocate:

    -No subsidies for specific technologies.
    -No efficiency mandates.
    -No banning of products on the grounds that they are "inefficient".
    -No subsidies for ethanol.

    Yeah, that sounds fantastic, except for the whole "internalizing externalities" thing. How exactly are you going to determine what the environmental impact of everything is, convert that into a "cost", and force everyone to pay it every time they do something with such a cost such that economics automatically gives incentives to lower environmental impact?

    And remember, you have to do it in such a way that the definition of environmental cost can't be manipulated and skewed to the benefit of some at the expense of others, or it's no better than the techniques you disdain.

    Wal-Mart and Tide are becoming more efficient because of the rising price of fuel, and the price of fuel has very little if anything to do with the environmental impact of fossil fuels. If it did, the price would be even higher. But how much higher? Do you know? Does anyone? What should the price of gas be in order to fully internalize the environmental impact so as to make your vision a reality?

    While you're figuring that out, over the last 20+ years efficiency and emissions mandates have made a real impact -- ask anyone who lived in LA in the 80s. And subsidies for 'green' energy have caused the amount of energy produced in the U.S. through clean methods to increase much faster than it would have otherwise. I'd argue that those subsidies at least for wind power are no longer necessary, but I also can't deny their effects. On the other hand ethanol in this country is nothing but a cynical gift to the already fat and bloated corn lobby that will hurt more than it helps.

    So in theory I agree with you 110%. The ultimate solution is to internalize environmental costs. But until you can turn the buzzword into a practical plan, don't go around saying that anyone who is proposing some other specific method of helping the environment doesn't really care about the environment and is only after power. Some are bad -- ethanol is purely a power/money grab, and carbon credits are a silly idea. Others aren't -- emissions and efficiency standards have a real impact, and subsidies for clean energy help replace dirty energy when it's otherwise not economical to do so. Perfect? No. Practical? Can be. Real? Yes, which is more than I can say for the ideal solution, as great as it is in theory.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire