I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Monday, January 5, 2009

What is Wrong with the Sun?

Take a look at this graph:

Graph Courtesy of Watt's Up With That?

The graph is a plot of the Ap Index since 1932, which is useless unless we know what the Ap Index is and what it represents. 

I did some poking around, and here is what I have found:

The Ap index is a measure of the general level of geomagnetic activity over the globe for a given (UT) day. It is derived from measurements made at a number of stations world-wide of the variation of the geomagnetic field due to currents flowing in the earth's ionosphere and, to a lesser extent, in the earth's magnetosphere. The official values for Ap (and other related indices of geomagnetic activity such as the three-hour Kp index) are calculated by the GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam Adolf-Schmidt-Observatory for Geomagnetism, D-14823 Niemegk (Germany), and are available from the GFZ Indices of Global Geomagnetic Activity with near real-time "quicklook" values and definitive values updated twice a month (once during the days 16-20 with the first 15 days of the current month and once during the days 1-5 with the second half of the previous month).

According to Anthony Watts:

The last time the Ap index was this low was 1933. The December 2008 Ap value of 2, released by SWPC yesterday, has never been this low. Further, the trend from October 2005 continues to decline after being on a fairly level plateau for two years. It has started a decline again in the last year.

This Ap index is a proxy that tells us that the sun is now quite inactive, and the other indices of sunspot index and 10.7 radio flux also confirm this. The sun is in a full blown funk, and your guess is as good as mine as to when it might pull out of it. So far, predictions by NOAA’s  SWPC and NASA’s Hathway have not been near the reality that is being measured.

The starting gate for solar cycle 24 opened ayear ago today, when I announced the first ever cycle 24 sunspot. However in the year since, it has become increasingly clear that the horse hasn’t left the gate, and may very well be lame.

Just another indicator that mankind has less of an effect on our weather and climate than man (in his hubris) imagines.

I can't help but wonder what this means for our weather, and if it will have any impact on the climate.