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Solar output: Data needs to rule by Steve LaNore,
Sunday, November 22nd 2009, 3:28 AM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
Image AttachmentSolar flux information: Jan Alvestad,

In science, sometimes it’s a challenge to divorce personal opinion from what the data shows. Example: I live in north Texas where we don’t get much snow, and I think snow once in a while (not five months straight) is nice. Because of this, I have to fight a tendency to make a “wishcast” for snow in an extended outlook when the chances may be marginal at best. Having said that, I know better, and this “bias” is under control.

I have noticed a similar mindset from readers of this column (constructive comments, regardless of persuasion, always appreciated; personal attacks are senseless) when I post articles on sunspots. Global cooling advocates don’t like it when I mention a new sunspot. Gee, I don’t make them. Conversely, the global warming crowd wants to debunk ANYTHING that goes against their opinions, which is also not the way science works. What do the DATA say?

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If you’re hoping a “quiet” sun will support a belief in global cooling, or if you hope an awakening sun will boost support for global warming, you’re wasting time anyway. Solar contribution to appreciable warming or cooling is circumstantial. It may be proven someday, and there are some good theories floating around, but we just don’t have enough information…yet.

An unmistakable and persistent upward trend has emerged since September 2009 in the solar flux (10.7cm wavelength), which has long been used as a barometer of the sun’s output. It is shown by the upper (black) line on this graph; it’s the first persistent upward slope of the new solar cycle 24. Jan Alvestad, a European astronomer and solar buff, has compiled and archived solar data for several years; his archive shows it is of the longest duration since late 2007. Overall sunspot activity has also consistently increased (although about half of the spot groups have been rather small).

All of this suggests the chances of the sun entering another prolonged “Maunder-type” minimum is quite low, while a steady upward trend, no doubt with fits and starts, becomes more likely with each new sunspot, and each day of the upward flux continuing.

Our duty as students of science is to accept real data as it becomes available, and see where it leads, no matter what we may “wish” for.

So I’m still hoping for a little snow this winter…but will not put it in my forecast unless there’s a science reason to do so.
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