Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sunspot Cycle 24: "None of us alive have ever seen such a weak cycle"

Conventional wisdom holds that solar activity swings back and forth like a simple pendulum.  At one end of the cycle, there is a quiet time with few sunspots and flares. At the other end, Solar Maximum brings high sunspot numbers and solar storms. It’s a regular rhythm that repeats every 11 years. 

Reality, however, is more complicated. Astronomers have been counting sunspots for centuries, and they have seen that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular. For one thing, the back-and-forth swing in sunspot counts can take anywhere from 10 to 13 years to complete; also, the amplitude of the cycle varies. Some solar maxima are very weak, others very strong (HERE). 

But "none of us alive have ever seen such a weak cycle [as the sunspot cycle 24]", said Dr. Leif Svalgaard of Stanford University and other prominent solar scientists at the 2013 Fall Meeting of American Geophysical Union (AGU), held on December 11, 2013 in San Francisco. This solar max is weak, and the overall current cycle conjures up comparisons to the famously feeble Solar Cycle 14 in the early 1900s (see also HERE & HERE).

John Hampson recently expected the "solar cycle 24′s flat top to end by mid-2014", and one of two possibities playing out: "One, equities peak out within the next 6 months, commodities don’t come again, and we thereafter enter the typical post-solar-peak recession (deflationary). Or, two, equities are peaking now and commodities are breaking upwards out of their large consoliation triangles since 2011 to produce a typical late-cyclical final rally and help tip the weak economy into that recession." (see also HERE).

Credits: John Hampson

Credits: Jan Alvestad

Credits: Jan Alvestad