Apr 02 2009

Historically Quiet Sun

Published by at 9:15 am under All General Discussions,Global Warming

Not in our lifetimes“, that is something to ponder. Not in the lifetime of anyone alive today who was born in the year World War I started (1914) onward. Not in 96 years. Think about that.

Think about the fact the automobile was in its infancy, so World War I included legions of cavalry (horse back armies for the younger generations out there connected to their MP3 players and cell phones). Many people lived without electricity. No TV – none. Steamships and steam driven trains were the primary modes of ‘rapid’ long distance travel. In World War I the first airplanes and tanks would see experimental use in wartime.

The industrial revolution was just beginning to take off, and the use of fossil fuels was limited. So why is this important? Because that is the last time this world saw a Sun as quiet as we have the last year:

2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year’s 366 days (73%). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days:plot. Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had hit bottom in 2008.

Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year’s 90 days (87%).

It adds up to one inescapable conclusion: “We’re experiencing a very deep solar minimum,” says solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center.

“This is the quietest sun we’ve seen in almost a century,” agrees sunspot expert David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.

A 50-year low in solar wind pressure: Measurements by the Ulysses spacecraft reveal a 20% drop in solar wind pressure since the mid-1990s—the lowest point since such measurements began in the 1960s.

A 12-year low in solar “irradiance”: Careful measurements by several NASA spacecraft show that the sun’s brightness has dropped by 0.02% at visible wavelengths and a whopping 6% at extreme UV wavelengths since the solar minimum of 1996.

A 55-year low in solar radio emissions: After World War II, astronomers began keeping records of the sun’s brightness at radio wavelengths. Records of 10.7 cm flux extend back all the way to the early 1950s. Radio telescopes are now recording the dimmest “radio sun” since 1955: plot.

Contrary to a statement in this article that solar irradiance cannot ‘reverse’ global warming (since it has already been reversed with a decade of cooling) the solar irradiance is a huge factor on global climate.

These changes are not enough to reverse the course of global warming, but there are some other, noticeable side-effects: Earth’s upper atmosphere is heated less by the sun and it is therefore less “puffed up.”

The fact it has been such a large factor is has allowed the Earth’s atmosphere to shrink (as all things do when they cool) is pretty stunning when you think about how much mass and volume is in our atmosphere. Here is the key graph, showing the lowest Solar Irradiance of the space age:


So, as the CO2 levels continue to rise, the real climate driver (our Sun) has shown a measurable drop in energy output, perfectly in line with the global climate  measurements, and in complete opposition to the guesstimates from the IPCC for many years now.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Historically Quiet Sun”

  1. Alert1201 says:

    This means only one thing AJ – our CO2 output is actually affecting the sun. We can call it Anthropological Solar Inactivity. Its worse then we thought. We must get Cap and Trade now, stop ASI. Does anybody out there have a hockey stick and empty graph for the IPCC to use.

  2. crosspatch says:

    Wow, this is pretty much a copy of this posting from Watts Up With That that appeared yesterday.

  3. crosspatch says:

    But it looks coincidental. Both you and Anthony were reporting the government press release. I suppose two articles based on the same release will be pretty much the same 🙂

  4. AJStrata says:


    We both read NASA news reports (follow the link to the original). I also have had the honor to work on SOHO, ACE, SDO on the periphery. I have been meaning to drop by and get the hard facts directly.


  5. AJStrata says:


    You made me spew my coffee on my keyboard with that one! Are you telling me our bad breath is so bad it is turning off the Sun?