Solar Cycle 25 and Beyond

courtesy: SOHO (ESA & NASA)
Britains' Royal Astronomical Society has just announced yet another new model of the Sun’s solar cycle ... one that is producing unprecedentedly accurate predictions of irregularities within the Sun’s 11-year heartbeat.
If the model is correct,  the outlook for the next several cycles does not look good. The modelling describes the interaction of two levels of the sun ... one near the surface and one much deeper.

Prof Valentina Zharkova and her colleagues, of  Northumbria University, have:

"... found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs, originating in two different layers in the Sun's interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different, and they are offset in time. Over the cycle, the waves fluctuate between the northern and southern hemispheres of the Sun. Combining both waves together and comparing to real data for the current solar cycle, we found that our predictions showed an accuracy of 97%." 

Zharkova's team analyzed data from California's Wilcox Solar Observatory, covering three solar cycles worth of activity from 1976-2008. All of their modelling predictions and observations were closely matched.

"Looking ahead to the next solar cycles, the model predicts that the pair of waves become increasingly offset during Cycle 25, which peaks in 2022. During Cycle 26, which covers the decade from 2030-2040, the two waves will become exactly out of synch and this will cause a significant reduction in solar activity."

This is not great news for HF DXers and 6 meter diehards as it sounds like the present wimpy cycle (Cycle 24) may have been a monster in comparison to what lies ahead. The one bright light is the likelihood of amazingly good low band (160, 80, 40m) conditions for many, many winters.

I recall just how good conditions became on 160m during the solar-quiet winters between Cycle 23 and the eventual late start of Cycle 24. Night after night, the band opened to Europe like clockwork. Many nights the skip was so long that no signals from the U.S. could be heard at all ... just Europeans, often reaching 599 on my FT-1000's S-meter. At times I had to shake my head and double check that it was really 160m that I was listening to.

LF and MF conditions were equally enhanced as the lack of D-layer absorption from a very quiet sun made tuning through the NDB band sound like 20m CW during the Sweepstakes Contest ... truly once-in-a-lifetime conditions ... but maybe not if Zharkova's model is as accurate as she claims.

I guess we'll just have to wait a few more years to find out.
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “Solar Cycle 25 and Beyond”

  • John de VK2XGJ:

    Now that will throw the cat amongst the pigeons. As an LF/MF fan I’ll be looking forward to some real DX on LF/MF.

  • Mike Newman ZL1BNB:

    I followed up on the good professor’s work and found this paper published last year.

    The prognosis for the higher HF bands is not good over the next few cycles.

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    The few cycles will mean I will need a lot of long wire and strange antennas for 160,60,70/80, 40 and 30 meters… It will also mean more firewood since we will most likely will see global cooling and mini ice age just like the last time we had a cycle like this.. The question is how old will I have to be to see 20-6 hot again, and can I make it…Being 67 yrs old, it doesn’t look good…

  • Neil w0yse wg2xsv:

    I am thinking that the coming enhancement for LF/MF over the next few cycles will make the new bands more attractive to many. Too bad I am already 75 years old. I think I will will have to increase my vitamin intake and get more exercise 😉

  • F8WBD:

    Also 75 years old and propagation not my major concern.

    Those with little real-estate (like me) will have antenna difficulties when longer wires for low-band operations are required. Harder to disguise or hide for those living in USA HOA communities.

    QRP will be very difficult.

    If 20 meters and higher are mostly unusable, the lower bands will be very crowded.


  • peter kg5wy:

    I am not 75, but looking forward to it.

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