Thursday, January 26, 2017

It Might Not Be As Bad As What Has Been Predicted

Update July 2017... okay so I was a little late.
As I have said on this Blog, I am numbers person. Figures tell everything and trend-lines explain what has happened, what might or will happen.

Wondering what is happening.
Out of my natural curiosity, I have started plotting past solar indices in order to get an indication of what our next Solar Cycle (25) might look like.

A half a year ago, it was announced by a Space Weather Meteorologist, Tamitha Skov
( )
that the first sunspot for Cycle 25 had appeared.

Once I thought about it, I looked at the most recent Solar Flux plot of Cycle 24. It certainly appeared that it was dropping rapidly.  I thought it could be contrary to prediction that our next solar cycle would be worse than this one.

This is a plot of monthly 10.7 cm (2,800 MHz) Solar Flux since 1991 and encompasses 3 Solar Cycles. Solar Flux measurements have been done for 6 cycles and is he standard set for measuring solar activity. As you can tell by these graphs, Cycle 24 was way less active than the previous 2 cycles.

One the reasons for this less active cycle (24) was made aware to me in 2011 by Jim Kennedy, KH6/K6MIO. He shared at a VHF Conference that the reversing of the northern and southern magnetic poles were out of sync. 
As of today, the polar fields still remain out of sync.

With the appearance of a new solar cycle sunspot, I thought I would look into the decline of the current one. I plotted the monthly solar flux values individually from each cycle's peak for the last 3 solar cycles. I applied "Exponential" trend-lines (lines of best fit) and assured that there was a high level correlation (perfect = 1.00). Since monthly values are erratic, the peak to valley data charted was based on the monthly "Smoothed Solar Flux" value.
The chart shows that this Solar Cycle 24 is declining at a pace more closer to Cycle 22 than the pace of Cycle 23.  The decline of Cycle 23 foretold an extended lull between cycles and the eventual lower Solar Flux (solar activity) that followed in Cycle 24.

I have averaged out the rate for the first 37 months of decline. The decline of Cycle 23 was much slower than 22.  Cycle 24 is declining move closely to the rate of Cycle 22. What is surprising is that Cycle 24 started its decline at a much lower solar flux value. 

Mathematically, this is the average decline between each month once these cycles started its end.
The Mathematical term is slope.

The lowest level of 10.7 cm Solar Flux that will be experienced is close to 65. At the current rate, we should see the bottom of Cycle 24 sooner than later. The low rate of decline in Cycle 23 resulted in a low rate of incline for Cycle 24. The higher rate of decline in Cycle 22 made the bottom more short-lived and resulted in a sharper incline for Cycle 23 (sorry I missed a lot of that.... work Hell).
  The lull between Solar Cycles 22 & 23 lasted 30 months. The lull between Solar Cycles 23 & 24 lasted 50 months, and its decline and rise were somewhat equal.

The only hitch to this analysis has been a constant elevated level of geomagnetic activity. Although solar activity has declined since 2014, geomagnetic activity has not. The values had actually increased somewhat and still flared up now and then. The last 3 months finally saw a good drop.

The Conclusion:
The current rate of solar activity decline equates that this solar cycle should reach bottom within 5-7 months. The next few months should determine that. Any lengthy spurts of activity (new sunspots) lasting several sun rotations would change the prediction.  There has been more activity recently, but not enough to change the trend. If the rapidly declining trend occurs, it should equate to a rapid rise of solar activity for the new cycle. Once we are into a year of increasing solar activity, a more reliable prediction for Solar Cycle 25 can be made.

A reminder, I am not a physicist.
I have looked at numbers and charts for over 40 years to identify patterns and trends.
I am an optimist. I am not convinced the next solar cycle will a stinker.  I want to work more 6-Meter F2 before I meet my maker.... 😏 in honor of SMIRK

73 Thanks for reading.
Art Jackson KA5DWI

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