View Article

view the latest news articles
Interview: David Hathaway, Ph.D., NASA Heliospheric Team Leader
Tuesday, November 3rd 2009, 2:13 AM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Image AttachmentDavid Hathaway, Ph.D., Heliospheric Team Leader, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama: “In the 50 years or so we’ve been making the (cosmic ray) measurements – yeah! this is by far the highest level of galactic cosmic rays that we’re seeing at Earth and we know exactly what is causing it. It’s the sun’s weakened magnetic fields and weakened solar winds that are all related to this Solar Cycle 24 minimum.

Beryllium is produced in the Earth’s upper atmosphere by cosmic rays striking nitrogen in particular and you find it in ice cores. If you look back at the record, there are significant changes. But, the amount that you see also depends on the strength and variations of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Periods like the Maunder Minimum occupy about 15% of the time. If you looked over thousands of years of Beryllium 10, it looks like 15% of the time, the sun is in this quiet state where it’s not producing sunspots. Given that, we’re about due. And I think that’s what comes up and why people are actively talking about grand minima like the Maunder Minimum is that if you go by percentages and the fact it has been so active, then we’re about due (for a long minimum).

We don’t have records prior to 1874 that give us details about the sun. Compared to the past 130 years, our sun now is unprecedented as far as how slow this Solar Cycle 24 is taking off - or not taking off!


Article continues below this advert:

Understanding the Peculiar
2008 - 2009 Solar Minimum
The number of days in 2009 without sunspots
as of October 29, was 232, or 77% of the time the sun was blank.

WHEN YOU GET TOGETHER NOW WITH YOUR SOLAR AND HELIOSPHERIC COLLEAGUES, DO YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT THE ODDS ARE RIGHT NOW THAT WE COULD BE GOING INTO ANOTHER MAUNDER MINIMUM?

It comes up in conversations all the time! (laughs) There is no doubt about it - it’s in the back of our minds!

Certainly the Maunder Minimum comes up. We recently had a meeting of 60 or 70 solar and heliospheric physicists from around the world who met on Mount Desert Island in Maine back in late September.

The title of the meeting was “Understanding the Peculiar Solar Minimum” – meaning this one! (laughs) The interesting thing is that at one point during that meeting, we took a vote amongst ourselves about how many thought that this Solar Cycle 24 is so peculiar that it would have a name attached to it, like Maunder Minimum or Dalton Minimum. It was a small minority that thought that it was that peculiar.

The vast majority felt that this is a significant minimum. It’s smaller than anything we have seen in the 50 years of the Space Age. But it does look like you can go back 100 years or so and find other similar minima.

Now, science is not done by voting! (laughs) So, it remains to be seen about what actually does happen in this Solar Cycle 24.

These were some of the world’s experts in these areas that concluded – yes, this is a deep solar minimum, but at this point, we’re not quite ready to say this is so weird that we need to give a name to it – that it’s something we haven’t seen in 200 years.

HOW DID YOU VOTE?

I didn’t think it was that peculiar. The only peculiar thing I see about it is that it’s so reluctant to get going.

Others are talking about the cosmic rays are through the roof. The number of spotless days is more than we’ve seen in a hundred years. The sun’s poles are weaker than we’ve seen in 30 years. Boy! We have a lot of things we’d like to do that require sunspots on the sun to help us understand how the sun and solar activity work. And without sunspots, we’re kind of shut down! (laughs)

And we also know that at some point, the sun is going to go into another minimum like the Maunder Minimum, but predicting when – I’m not sure I’m ready to go out on that limb. (laughs)

What Happened to 2006 Predictions of Huge Solar Cycle 24?

ISN’T IT ESPECIALLY STRANGE FOR YOU BECAUSE THREE YEARS AGO, ALL THE PHYSICS OF THE SUN THAT YOU AND NASA AND EVERYBODY ELSE WAS USING WERE ANTICIPATING THAT THIS COULD BE THE BIGGEST SOLAR MAXIMUM ON RECORD?

There were indications back then. I am writing a paper – it’s on my computer as we speak (laughs) – basically saying that I made a big mistake – myself and Bob Wilson – when we wrote a paper in 2006, suggesting Solar Cycle 24 was going to be a huge cycle based on conditions at that time. The problem we had with our prediction was that it was based on a method that assumes that we’re near sunspot cycle minimum.

We had just previously gone through three or four sunspot cycles that had been only ten years long each, so for the one in 1996 to 2006, it seemed like a reasonable assumption. But as we now know, we were off by at least two years. And if we take conditions on the sun now, it’s a completely different story. The conditions now – using even that same technique from 2006 – says that the next sunspot cycle is going to be half what we thought it was back in 2006.

Another big prediction in 2006 was based on a dynamo model – a model for how the sun produces magnetic fields - and it suggested a huge cycle.

But there also were people back at that time saying otherwise. A group of colleagues led by Leif Svalgaard, Ph.D., were looking at the sun’s polar fields and saying even at that point, the sun’s polar fields were significantly weaker than they had been before and those scientists back then predicted it was going to be a small cycle.

How Small Will Solar Cycle 24 Be?

I’ve come around to that view now. I think there is little doubt in my mind now that we’re in for a small cycle. The big question now is how small? I think most of us are predicting small cycles. I think even the techniques I’m using now are suggesting HALF the size of the last three or four solar cycles, but my fear is that even that might be too big just from the fact that it’s taken so long for this Solar Cycle 24 to really get off the ground and start producing sunspots.

I have no doubt at this point that it’s going to be a little cycle. My current prediction is that it’s going to be about half of what we’ve seen in the last four solar cycles or so. But in my gut, I feel it’s going to be smaller than that! (laughs) It’s just so slow in taking off and the indicators that we see – both the polar fields and the geomagnetic indicators are lower than anything we’ve seen before.

No More 2012 Solar Maximum for Cycle 24?

ISN’T IT IRONIC THAT THERE HAS BEEN ALL THIS ANTICIPATION OF 2012 BECAUSE OF THE CLOSING DOWN OF THE MAYAN CALENDAR AND THE EXPECTATION THAT POSSIBLY SOMETHING ON OR FROM THE SUN OR RELATED TO THE SUN MIGHT IMPACT THE EARTH DURING SOME LARGE SOLAR MAXIMUM IN 2012. BUT RIGHT NOW, DOES IT SEEM LIKE THE SUN WILL BE ESPECIALLY QUIET IN 2012?

Indeed. In fact, when we came out with the prediction of a big cycle back in 2006, I got lots of emails from folks. If it was going to be such a big cycle, it should have started in 2006 so by 2012, it ought to be at its peak.

And at this point, it looks like, ‘No, I don’t think so!’ (laughs) Not at all! I think it’s going to be a small peak and it’s not going to be in 2012. It’s going to be in 2013. So, I think any connection that people might try to make between solar activity and the end of the Mayan calendar cycle is problematic.

IN FACT, IN 2012, THE SUN MIGHT BE THE QUIETEST IT HAS BEEN AT A SOLAR MAXIMUM FOR 130 OR MORE YEARS?

Yes, indeed! It might be. The Mayans never said there were going to be disasters. It’s just that it’s the end of that cycle and you start another one.

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT THE SUN IS BOTH PECULIAR AND UNPREDICTABLE?

Yeah, I’d buy that! (laughs) Most definitely!

Click source to read more
Source Link: earthfiles.com
Articles by Climate Realists and Topics

» Recently used highlighted

ALL #-E F-J K-O P-T U-Z
Useful links
Disclaimer
  • » News articles may contain quotes, these are copyright to the respective publication which will be stated, along with a link to the source article where available.
  • » If you feel your copyright has been violated please contact us and the article will be removed or amended at your request.
Site Details
  • » Launched 15 May 2009
  • » Website Design by Mr Zippy
Climate Depot Feed
  • » Feed Error