Solar Science

A blog of solar physics

Archive for May 2008

International Conference on Solar Influence on Climate

with 2 comments

I thought I’d give a little heads up to a conference to be held at Montana State University from June 1-6:

Approximately 100 scientists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and North America will participate in the workshop titled “Solar Variability, Earth’s Climate and the Space Environment,” said MSU physicist Dibyendu Nandi, head of the local organizing committee.

Participants will include directors of major international institutions, leaders of space missions and contributors to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. One of the participants, the managing director of the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, will give a public address on June 3.

“This is the first workshop in this international series of meetings that will be held in the United States,” said William Hiscock, physics professor and head of the MSU physics department. “The selection of MSU as host for this event reflects the strong international reputation of our solar physics research group.”

Nandi added, “The Sun is the main source of energy in the solar system. Understanding how variations in its magnetic and radiative output influence our climate and space environment is the primary focus of this workshop. Achieving this understanding is important for protecting our technologies in space and on Earth and is essential towards distinguishing the natural and man-made causes of global climate change.”

Of course, some climate modellers think that this conference would be a waste of time.


Written by John A

May 25, 2008 at 11:10 pm

A very good question

with 12 comments

OK, so I’ve recently bemoaned my fortune in actually seeing an SC24 spot “live”. But there’s a much more serious question which Anthony Watts has brought up:

Galileo, Wolf, and other solar observers of the past would likely never have seen it. So with these Tiny Tims coming and going so quickly, that begs the question; was the Maunder Minimum, Dalton Minimum and other minimums not simply a period of Tiny Tim sunspots that nobody could detect with the observing equipment of the time?

THAT is a very good question.

History of sunspot number observations showing the recent elevated activity.

Above is the record of the Solar Cycle right back to the Maunder Minimum. As you can see Galileo reported sunspots just before the Maunder Minimum, which was fortunate because with the instrumentation available at the time, he would not have seen the “Tiny Tims” similar to the current SC24 ones.

I hope this isn’t what we’re seeing. If the Earth’s climate is dominated by variations in Solar luminosity and magnetic field strength as is believed by some, then that would mean cooling.

And that would be a global disaster as deserts expand, storms increase, glaciers expand and wipe out towns and villages in places like Switzerland and Nepal, a shorter growing season with more variability in precipitation, an increase in the number of droughts and failed harvests leading to mass starvation in certain regions.

I hope its just a hiccup in global warming, because there’s very little to be scared of in a warming climate.

Before the current scare began, climatologists talked of warm periods as “Optimums” or “Optima”, a time of plenty and societal growth and prosperity. With the advent of political supplication to climate models and the pronouncements of some climate modellers, we have been taught to fear warming and try to reverse it as wholly undesirable even at the expense of every modern device that keeps us from being victims of climate change, howsoever caused.

I really hope for global warming. At the moment, I’m pessimistic about whether it will continue.

Written by John A

May 6, 2008 at 8:23 am

SC24: I must be cursed

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Either SC24 is the weakest ever solar cycle in a long time or I’m cursed. I look on Anthony Watts‘ excellent weblog and see that someone has sighted an SC24 spot in the Southern Hemisphere

And here’s the magnetogram showing that it is indeed an SC24 phenomenon:

If you care to look at the last SC24 spot to appear in the Northern Hemisphere, then this does appear to be an SC24 spot, (the magnetic polarities being reversed between the hemispheres).

So I snap into action, going to and…


…is that it? Or is it a dead pixel in the camera? Let’s check the magnetogram:


…and its gone!

Another SC24 “Tiny Tim” and I missed it.

Clearly spotting sunspots is more difficult than I thought. There cannot be more than a few hours between Anthony’s post and mine, and yet the SC24 spot and magnetic signature had both disappeared.

And on a sad note, it appears not to have been given a number by NASA. Maybe the person responsible went for coffee at just the wrong time.

Written by John A

May 4, 2008 at 6:31 am