The sun wasn’t totally spotless in April. Unfortunately, the most recent new spot is an old spot.
“Say WHAT?” You ask. “How can a new spot be an old spot?”
Right now, the sunspot activity is in a low period between sunspot cycles. Sunspots are features on the sun that are cooler that their surrounding areas. That’s why they appear dark.
Sunspots are also magnetic features, having polarity, with north and south poles, much like a magnet. Their magnetic alignment — where the poles are in relationship to each other — is dependent upon what hemisphere they are in and, more importantly to this discussion, what solar cycle they are in.
Sunspot polarity is reversed from one sunspot cycle to the next. During the solar minimum period when sunspot activity is at the lowest, sunspots from both cycles can appear. Most of the recent sunspots have had the polarity for cycle 24; they have been “new” sunspots. The most recent sunspot has the polarity of cycle 23; thus, an “old” sunspot.
There were but 2 sunspots, as I recall, during the month of April, neither of them very significant. Overall solar activity remains low. According to spaceweather.com, “Until these old cycle sunspots go away, the next solar cycle will remain in abeyance.”
What does it all mean?
It wasn’t that long ago that scientists were predicting a much different level of activity for the sun. A March 10, 2006 NASA article headlined Solar Storm Warning, said:
This week researchers announced that a storm is coming–the most intense solar maximum in fifty years. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one,” she says. If correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1958.
It looks like they really missed the mark.
Last month, in The Sun Has Lost Its Spots — Part 2, I asked, “What happens when the solar indicators remain low for an extended period of time?”
A number of scientists are projecting that global warming is over, for now, and that global average temperatures will be dropping for the next 20 to 30 years. This is based on predictions that solar output will remain low for an extended period of time.
A number of indicators seem to be supporting the idea that global warming has stopped for now.