Posts Tagged ‘sunspots’

Part 2 of the “Revolution” Article on the Sunspot Cycle in August Issue of RadCom

RadCom’s August issue contains Part 2 of my article with Dr. Scott McIntosh on the potential scientific revolution in understanding the cycle of Sunspots. This part contains more insight into the McIntosh team’s path-breaking theory of the Terminator Event and the factors that shape Cycle 25. The comparison of competing paradigms—here from the NASA/NOAA Panel’s declaration of a Cycle 25 prediction without any disclosure of methods or theory used versus the McIntosh team’s peer-reviewed papers—is likened to the one a century ago between the classic Newtonian view and the upstart Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Who now reads Newton for science, except for history?

Howell and McIntosh, RadCom, August 2022

As the history of science shows, it was the upstart Einstein challenging the classic paradigm of Newton who brought the newspaper headlines, “Revolution in Science.” We can watch monthly updates of this modern comparison in a special website discussed in our August article.

This part of our paper contains the forecast of the Sunspot numbers and the Solar Flux Index over Cycle 25. See the August issue of RadCom, the journal of the Radio Society of Great Britain.

“Revolutionary” Cover Story in RadCom July 2022

I’ve mentioned this work in various episodes of the ICQ Podcast as well as on social media in my Twitter account and now it’s published. Dr. Scott McIntosh and I collaborated since my original feature interview with him in Episode 332 of the the ICQ Podcast back in 2020. He paid a return visit with me for a follow-up feature interview by Martin Butler M1MRB in Episode 377 recently. The article by Howell and McIntosh, “On the Cusp of A Scientific Revolution,” is the cover story in RadCom, the magazine published by the Radio Society of Great Britain. Here’s the cover with a very nice photo of the sun and the ESA Solo satellite facing it. Kevin M6CYB, layout and design specialist at RadCom, put this cover together using resources from the ESAATG Media Lab, for Elaine Richards G4LFM, Editor of RadCom.

Elaine G4LFM is a delightful Editor to work with! As my readers no doubt know from previous posts on this blog, I served as Editor-in-Chief for Springer Media, a very large scientific publisher based in The Netherlands. So I’veb oo that side of the editorial desk for both journal articles and book manuscripts. Moreover, the untimely loss of her Technical Editor, Giles Read G1MFG (sk), added to her workload recently. But she handled all of that, plus her pending retirement, with the utmost aplomb. There’s no muss, no fuss in submitting a paper. No waiting for 6-8 weeks or more for the Editor to “maybe” get back to you. I highly recommend RadCom as a potential outlet for your work.

This is Part 1 of a lengthy and detailed paper. Part 2 is scheduled to appear next month, in the August issue. It’s not an elevator speech so be prepared to read it like you would read a schematic diagram. We think it will be worth your time.

There are some other great articles in this month’s edition of RadCom. Here’s a screen shot of the Table of Contents so you can take a look at both the regular columnists and contributions by authors such as Scott and me.

So what’s all of this about?

We place the current situation of significantly different Cycle 25 predictions of sunspots into the framework of how science works. I’m not speaking of which test tube or microscopic plate to use, for that involves the mechanics of each specific scientific field (Yep, I realize just how outdated those examples are but you get my point.) How does “science” as an institution work?

This diagram illustrates how Thomas Kuhn depicted “scientific revolutions” in paradigm change:

Model of Kuhn’s Paradigm-Change in Science (courtesy of Dr. Jessie Hamner)

We argue that understanding the solar cycle is in the model competition stage of this diagram.

Dr. McIntosh is the solar physicist. I’m not. But I taught philosophy of science, research design and modeling various scientific phenomena in obscurely named course titles like Structural Equation Models with Latent Variables and Spatial Analysis. I also edited and created a few journals in my career, too. Moreover, I’ve worked for NASA in their Commercial Remote Sensing Program at Stennis Space Center and managed peer-review panels in Washington, DC. So I’ve witnessed how this works in several fields of science, especially when I’ve been invited to reconcile disputes in funding or peer-reviews (e.g., integrated pest management).

When I interviewed Scott in 2020 for the ICQ Podcast, it was clear as a bell to me that the issues he and his colleagues were having in getting some of this “revolutionary” work published in solar physics outlets reflected a clash of theoretical paradigms. Pure and simple. It represents a competing paradigm attacking many of the anomalous findings (or lack thereof) involving the amplitude and cycle transition. Afterwards, he asked me to read a draft of a key paper establishing the linkages between the Hale Magnetic Cycle and the Solar Cycle in which I made voluminous comments and suggestions on the data, modes of analysis, and how to deal effectively with reviewers as a former editor. I’m sure I made a number of “rookie mistake” comments since I’m not a solar physicist, lol. But he was very kind to not mention those, only suggesting other sources for me to read and review.

When it was published, I was greatly touched to have received an acknowledgement for my impact on the final paper (see Scott W. McIntosh et al. (2020). Deciphering Solar Magnetic Activity: 140 Years of the ‘Extended Solar Cycle’ – Mapping the Hale Cycle. Solar Physics (2021) 296:189 (https://doi.org/10.1007/s11207-021-01938-7). Considering that this could be a seminal paper among those published by the McIntosh team that might precipitate a paradigmatic revolution in our understanding of the solar cycle and sunspot amplitude and the transition from one cycle to another, it’s an even greater honor to receive this acknowledgement outside my own field of science.

Scott and I have developed a close collaborative relationship and I’ve learned a lot from him and his published work. He is just a delight in “elmering” me about solar physics. But have no confusion: he’s the solar physicist and I’m the statistician and philosopher of science. We hope that through this collaborative paper, his team’s theory, models and data reach the wide audience that is amateur radio. We hams are one of the significant consumers of this slice of solar physics. But we decided that my expertise would help identify the paradigm boundaries of Scott’s new paradigm as well as some other facets of communicating outside of solar physics. Perhaps even within solar physics, too.

As we “shockingly” disclose in RadCom, the current NASA/NOAA “official” predictions for Cycle 25 do not release any of their methods or assessments to the public. (Insert record scratch here.) Yet, their forecasts are decidedly lower in amplitude than those published under peer-review by my co-author, Scott McIntosh, and his team of collaborative scientists. Amateur operators, however, view the official NASA-NOAA Panel predictions over the past several solar cycles are the Holy Grail source of sunspot activity. We’ve seen this movie before:

While Scott has published beaucoup papers documenting his team’s explicit theory of how these aspects of the sunspot cycle (as amateurs like to call it) work together, our RadCom article attempts to lay it out in comparison to those “official” predictions by the NASA-NOAA Panel. One team will ultimately be proven to be more correct as Cycle 25 matures; the one based upon Panel votes of “expert opinion” or the one based upon a peer-reviewed alternative paradigm.

Those who see SSNs as the critical daily index shaping their amateur radio operations will want to see which team is “right.” To facilitate this, there is a website where the NASA-NOAA predictions, the McIntosh team predictions, the average SSN over the horizon, and the observed SSNs for each month are published in clearly annotated graphs for all to see. No “smoke-filled rooms” where just a professional opinion is offered, but observable empirical data, updated monthly.

Hmm. I wonder whether I’d trust a team of physicians who just met in a conference room and voted to see if I had cancer (which I did in 2005) or a team of physicians who took X-Rays, MRI’s, blood samples and so forth to aid in their diagnosis and treatment plan. Which one do you think is more worthy of your trust? Well, it’s largely up to the observed SSNs and the two sets of predictions, even though one is formally devoid of a stated theory, isn’t it?

Here’s the money graph here:

Time-Series Graph of observed and predicted sunspot numbers from 2019 through 2024

As the reader can see, the McIntosh predictions (in black) are decidedly closer than the “official” NASA/NOAA/ISES Panel’s predictions (two different blue lines) to the actual observed smoothed sunspot numbers as of July 2022 (green lines).

This is not unlike how the educated world awaited a specific set of photographic plates from an eclipse to determine whether the famous Sir Isaac Newton or the (then) young, whipper-snapper Albert Einstein was correct about Relativity. That was how the Newton-Einstein debate was largely resolved. The McIntosh team has put it’s scientific reputation on the line with observable data, which is how science has moved over the centuries since its emergence in modern societies.

Who now reads Newton for science, except for history?
Howell and McIntosh, RadCom, July 2022
Tweet

You can find out more about Dr. McIntosh at NCAR (his research center), on Twitter, or by listening to the two podcast episodes I noted above on the ICQ Podcast website. In addition, Scott has given many talks to amateur radio clubs on this team’s work. Youtube is your friend here. I’m already scheduled for late July to talk about this RadCom article to the Denby Dale Club. If you’d like a talk on this to your club, feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to accommodate you. I’m good on QRZ.

Solar Cycle 25’s Fast Progress

 

 

 

Blog readers may remember my previous blog discussing a more optimistic prognosis for the just-starting solar Cycle 25. It described the then recently-published scientific paper whose conclusion was rather startling:

 

 

 "... we deduce that Sunspot Cycle 25 could have a magnitude that rivals the top few since records began."

The scientific paper described the exact opposite of any and all predictions that I have read or have seen referenced, and at the time of publication, was surely a bold and risky claim for the paper's authors. (1)

An over-simplification of the methodologies used to develop their prediction describes the study of the complex relationship involving the Sun's 22-year (Hale) magnetic cycle, the end points of adjoining cycles called 'terminations' and sunspot production, to predict the eventual strength of the new cycle.

The end of the cycle or ‘terminator’ event plays a significant role in the new cycle’s progress, as the shorter the separation between adjoining terminators, the stronger the next cycle will be. The possibilities of Cycle 25 being a truly strong one depends upon (according to the paper) a terminator event occuring sometime before the end of 2020.

Although there has been no official announcement as of yet, it appears that the termination may be presently occuring. Again following the paper, the termination event will produce a sudden and marked upturn in the growth of solar activity and will in fact, switch on suddenly within one solar rotation. As startling as this sounds, it appears to be exactly what is happening on the Sun right now.

 

courtesy: nasa.gov

Just one week ago, the Sun’s solar flux stood at ~79 sfu (Solar Flux Units) but has climbed rapidly to 110. With several active sunspot regions on the earth-facing side of the Sun and several actively flaring groups about to rotate into view on the backside, it seems as if this sudden growth may be sustainable.

What is particularly encouraging is the activity level of the earth-side spots as well as the ones coming around, with several C and B-class flares continuing to push the flux higher. 

Although it will likely slow and subside, a key indicator of future strength will be the time that it takes to recover and climb again. 

Another interesting gauge of a new cycle’s possible future strength is the number of months needed to reach an average monthly SFI of ‘90’. Strong cycles tend to climb early and rapidly, in order to reach their lofty heights. 

The strongest cycle on record was Cycle 19, the grandaddy of them all. 

courtesy: http://www.solen.info/solar/
 

Compared to anything before or after, it was a magnificent monster of a cycle for ham radio. Cycle 19 reached the magic SFI 90 value in only 18 months ... Cycle 25 has reached this same point in just 12 months! If this is indeed an accurate marker for cycle strength, and there is no reason to believe otherwise, then maybe we should all hold onto our hats.

We’ve been told for several years by those who know these things, that Cycle 25 would likely be a repeat of the poorly-performing Cycle 24, or even weaker. I think one thing  that can now be reasonably surmised is that this isn't another Cycle 24! We should know shortly, if Cycle 25 is the real thing or not, once the termination event has been confirmed.

In the meantime, enjoy the wide open strong signal opportunities now playing on 10m ... the band is back once again and in fine form ... way earlier than anyone ever expected!

 

 (1) Scott W. McIntosh (1), Sandra C. Chapman (2), Robert J. Leamon (3,4), Ricky Egeland (1), and Nicholas W. Watkins (2,5,6)

1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307, USA.
2 Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
3 University of Maryland, Department of Astronomy, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
4 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 672, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA.
5 Centre for the Analysis of Time Series, London School of Economics and Political Science, London WC2A 2AZ, UK 

6 School of Engineering and Innovation, STEM Faculty, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK

Thirty Minutes of Dazzle: The Sun in UHD 4K by SDO (NASA)

Take a front-seat view of the Sun in this 30-minute ultra-high definition movie in which NASA SDO gives us a stunning look at our nearest star.

This movie provides a 30-minute window to the Sun as seen by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which measures the irradiance of the Sun that produces the ionosphere. SDO also measures the sources of that radiation and how they evolve.

SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin (about 1 million degrees F.) In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun’s 25-day rotation.

The distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits Earth at 6,876 mph and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space. Moreover, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. built, operates, and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

Charged particles are created in our atmosphere by the intense X-rays produced by a solar flare. The solar wind, a continuous stream of plasma (charged particles), leaves the Sun and fills the solar system with charged particles and magnetic field. There are times when the Sun also releases billions of tons of plasma in what are called coronal mass ejections. When these enormous clouds of material or bright flashes of X-rays hit the Earth they change the upper atmosphere. It is changes like these that make space weather interesting.

Sit back and enjoy this half-hour 4k video of our Star!  Then, share.  🙂

73 dit dit

 

Stunning Ultra-HD View; Sun Timelapse 2015 NASA/SDO

This video is ten minutes of coolness.

This cool time-lapse video shows the Sun (in ultra-high definition 3840×2160 – 4k on YouTube) during the entire year, 2015. The video captures the Sun in the 171-angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light. Our naked, unaided eyes cannot see this, but this movie uses false-colorization (yellow/gold) so that we can watch in high definition.

The movie covers a time period of January 2, 2015 to January 28, 2016 at a cadence of one frame every hour, or 24 frames per day. This timelapse is repeated with narration by solar scientist Nicholeen Viall and contains close-ups and annotations. The 171-angstrom light highlights material around 600,000 Kelvin and shows features in the upper transition region and quiet corona of the sun.

The first half tells you a bit about the video and the Sun, and you can see the entire year 2015 rotate by.  The second half is narrated by a NASA scientist.  It is worth watching all ten minutes.  And, then, sharing!

The sun is always changing and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is always watching.

Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, SDO keeps a 24-hour eye on the entire disk of the sun, with a prime view of the graceful dance of solar material coursing through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. SDO’s sixth year in orbit was no exception. This video shows that entire sixth year–from Jan. 1, 2015 to Jan. 28, 2016 as one time-lapse sequence. Each frame represents 1 hour.

SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) captures a shot of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths. The images shown here are based on a wavelength of 171 angstroms, which is in the extreme ultraviolet range and shows solar material at around 600,000 Kelvin (about 1 million degrees F.) In this wavelength it is easy to see the sun’s 25-day rotation.

During the course of the video, the sun subtly increases and decreases in apparent size. This is because the distance between the SDO spacecraft and the sun varies over time. The image is, however, remarkably consistent and stable despite the fact that SDO orbits Earth at 6,876 mph and the Earth orbits the sun at 67,062 miles per hour.

A blending of an entire year, 2015, of the Sun as seen by NASA SDO at EUV 171 Angstroms

A blending of an entire year, 2015, of the Sun as seen by NASA SDO at EUV 171 Angstroms

Why This is Important

Scientists study these images to better understand the complex electromagnetic system causing the constant movement on the sun, which can ultimately have an effect closer to Earth, too: Flares and another type of solar explosion called coronal mass ejections can sometimes disrupt technology in space. Moreover, studying our closest star is one way of learning about other stars in the galaxy. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. built, operates, and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

For us radio enthusiasts, the study of the Sun helps us understand the dynamics of radio signal propagation.  And, that aids us in communicating more effectively and skill.

Thanks for sharing, voting, and watching.  More information and live Sun content can be accessed 24/7 at http://SunSpotWatch.com

You can also get the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Self-study Course at http://SunSpotWatch.com/swc

 

Five X-class (Major) X-ray Flares in a Row (plus more!)

Well, thankfully, this is not happening during this contest weekend: one of the largest sunspot regions during this Sunspot Cycle 24, and one of the biggest in several decades, gave us quite a show, back in October 2014.

Five major X-class (very strong) and a number of moderate and “mild” solar x-ray flares erupted from a single sunspot region – this video covers the time period of October 19-27, 2014, as captured by NASA’s SDO spacecraft. This is from what has been one of the biggest sunspot regions in a number of decades.

Between October 19 and October 27, 2014, a particularly large active region on the Sun dispatched many intense x-ray flares. This region, labeled by NOAA as Active Region (AR) number 12192 (or, simply, NOAA AR 12192, and shortened as AR 2192), is the largest in 24 years (at that point in Solar Cycle 24).

The various video segments track this sunspot region during this period (Oct. 19 – Oct.27, 2014), during which we can see the intense explosions. There are five X-class flares during this time, and NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which watches the sun constantly, captured these images of the event.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

When referring to these intense solar eruptions, the letter part of the classification, ‘X’, means, ‘X-class’. This denotes the most intense flares, while the number, after the classification letter, provides more information about its strength. For example, an X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, and so forth.

Solar Images Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center & SDO

http://SunSpotWatch.com ~ http://NW7US.us

73 de NW7US

Sunspot Numbering System Revised


Although sunspot data has been recorded in one form or another for over 400 years, there have been few changes in the counting system since the introduction of the 'Wolf Number' in 1849. Recording of the sunspot 'Group Number' came into existence in 1998. It seems there were some strong differences in the two parallel series of systems and in 2011 a group of 40 experts undertook a full examination and revision of both systems in order to identify and fix the defects.


The new system, which became effective on July 1st, has brought both systems into alignment, with the most notable correction being in the lowering, by about 18%, of all numbers after 1947. The new Group Number has been corrected for a large underestimate of all values before the 20th century and has resulted in a fully reconstructed series of Group Numbers.

courtesy: http://www.sidc.be/
Viewed graphically, through my non-expert eyes, most of the earlier cycles up until 1947 appear to show slightly stronger peaks than before while those after 1947, including monster Cycle 19, show smaller peaks.

The graphic of Group Numbers shows significant increases for cycles up until the 1900's.

courtesy: http://www.sidc.be/



The new system brings the correlation of Group Numbers and Sunspot Numbers into harmony, unlike before.



courtesy: http://www.sidc.be/


Although these changes became effective on July 1st, the work is far from complete. According to the folks at SILSO (Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations):

Still, as can be seen, significant deviations remain, mainly before 1825, when the observations become scarce and in periods of activity minima (low counts). So, more work definitely remains to be done for many years to come, but given the major improvements harvested at this stage, the WDC - SILSO is now going to proceed with the public release of this new version.
 


The preparation of this major operation is now almost completed. It required a huge organizational and programming work from the small SILSO team. Indeed, the release of the new past Sunspot series is just a starting point for the WDC-SILSO. Indeed, it requires a deep reworking of the operational software that will process the data from our worldwide network on July 1st and in the future. Indeed, various data products must be made seamlessly compatible with the new base total Sunspot Number series: the hemispheric Sunspot Numbers, the daily Estimated Sunspot Number, the 12-month solar-cycle forecasts, all data plots and the derivation of personal k coefficients for all stations of the network.


After a rather uneventful life over the past 166 years, the Sunspot Number will thus be reborn in a new incarnation on Wednesday July 1st. We hope that the science community will welcome this revived data set and will appreciate the considerable community effort accomplished over the past four years to produce a better reference for long-term solar and Sun-Earth studies.

Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

 
We never share your e-mail address.


Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on AmateurRadio.com!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!


  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor




Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: