Sunspots 2014: Case for a weak Dalton Minimum

Solar flares may decrease for 20 years or more. Credit/

Austin, September 2, 2014 – New evidence is accumulating each month during Cycle 24’s sunspot progression. The emerging picture shows that the sun is entering into a weak Dalton Minimum.

What is this evidence? What does it mean? How might it affect climate change here on earth?

The progression of this solar cycle is revealing tantalizing new clues with each month’s release of new sunspot numbers. Take those clues, combine them with what is already known, couple that with the historical record and the case for a weak Dalton looks strong.

Cycle 24 sunspot progression

New solar maximum set. Credit/SILSO data, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels

The Royal Observatory of Belgium released the August monthly international sunspot numbers on September 1, 2014. Cycle 24 remains the weakest solar cycle in 100 years but another new solar maximum was set again for the seventh month in a row! In all likelihood, another solar max will be set again this month, but it is still far short of NASA’s prediction.

Ironically, as explained below, the unexpected rise in late cycle solar activity further bolsters the case that the sun is falling into a Dalton-like minimum.

Cycle 24’s latest smoothed solar maximum went up from 77.3 spots/day to 78.4 spots/day, inching ever closer to 80. NASA forecast a peak of 90.

Cycle 14 or Cycle 12?

Cycle 14 (1907) compared to Cycle 24. Credit/SILSO data, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels

Until now, most solar physicists have compared Cycle 24’s progression to Cycle 14. That one peaked in 1907. Cycle 14 at maximum activity had a rather unique series of about five similar magnitude sunspot peaks looking like a case of mumps spread over four years.

Cycle 24 roughly matched Cycle 14 for the first 56 months after solar minimum. As Cycle 24 has progressed since then, it no longer matches. Cycle 24 took off while Cycle 14 did not.

In the entire 400-year history of sunspots, it’s rare for a secondary peak, like today’s cycle, to be bigger than the first. Its closest match now is to Cycle 12 that peaked in 1883.

Cycle 12 (1883) compared to Cycle 24. Credit/SILSO data, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels

Cycle 12 was the lead-in to a series of five weak sunspot cycles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

These two cycles are practically twins:

  • Both are exceptionally weak
  • Both have singlet secondary peaks higher than their first
  • Cycle 12 occurred at the beginning of a series of weak cycles
  • Cycle 24 appears similarly positioned to Cycle 12

It’s noteworthy that Cycle 12 has the highest reliably determined peak-to-peak secondary maximum in the sunspot record. Cycle 24 is close behind in second place but may surpass Cycle 12 in the next couple months.

It’s also noteworthy that Cycle 12 had the longest following extended solar minimum of any in the entire official historical record.

The Dalton connection

Dalton Minimum entry. Credit/SILSO data, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels

This graph plots the three cycles leading into the Dalton Minimum (in blue), overlaid with the most recent three cycles (in red). The display is current through August 2014. Both sets of three cycles share several curious similarities:

  • They have two straight declining cycles
  • The middle cycles have extended trailing minimums
  • The third cycles have secondary peaks higher than their first
  • The third cycles are exceptionally weak

Following the third cycle entering into the Dalton there was an extended period of nearly two years that the monthly sunspot number remained stuck at zero. That’s the longest time of zero monthly sunspots since 1749.

Extended minimums both preceded and followed the weak double-peaked third cycle of the Dalton. It’s probably related to the internal workings of the solar dynamo, as is the higher second peak. Unfortunately, solar physics hasn’t progressed to the point of being able to fully explain and predict these phenomena.


This month’s sunspot numbers are in. Another new solar maximum record was set. Ironically, it strengthens the case that the sun is headed into some sort of minimum activity phase.

Cycle 24, including this late cycle burst of solar activity, continues to mimic the conditions leading into the Dalton Minimum and/or into a set of five weak cycles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Things today aren’t exactly the same as the three cycles leading into the Dalton. The second lead-in cycle started later and its extended minimum is a lot shorter than its Dalton counterparts.

Compared to its lead-in cycles, the third this time around is stronger than the ones leading into the Dalton. Cycle 24 is more closely related to Cycle 12, which itself was the lead-in into a series of five weak cycles overlapping earth’s modern temperature profile. That profile serves as the basis for all global warming theory. Back then earth was about .9° C cooler than today.

Just yesterday, September 1st, a new paper establishing a statistical sunspot and earth temperature link was published in Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications. A rebuttal also appeared in the same journal. The sunspot/temperature link remains a hotly debated topic.

Over the last 400 years the minimums of the Maunder, Dalton and late 1800s/early 1900s have all been tied to cooler earth temperatures.

Cycle 24 shares similar characteristics to both the Dalton and the weak cycles leading into the modern era. Perhaps the sun is returning to conditions similar to the late-1800s.

Right now, sunspots are becoming weaker and harder to see. It’s been known since the late 1990s that sunspot magnetic field strengths – the engine behind the spots – have decreased by a third. Their umbral intensity (darkness compared to surroundings) has decreased by a third as well.

Sum everything together as we know it today and it adds up to this: Earth’s sun is heading into a weak Dalton-like minimum over the next several cycles.


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Posted on Sep 2, 2014, in astronomy, Climate, climate change, environment, Global Warming, news, Politics, science, solar cycle, space, Sun, sunspot activity, sunspot report, sunspots. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. You are right. The Sun appears to be entering another cyclic minimum.

    Two great scientists who witnessed abrupt changes in science at the end of WWII – Astronomer Fred Hoyle and Nuclear Geochemist Paul Kazuo Kuroda – left hints in their personal autobiographies that science went suddenly astray after WWII.

    What happened? Frightened world leaders tried to save the world from nuclear annihilation by taking totalitarian control of society and hiding the source of energy that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    That same source of energy powers the Sun:

    Click to access Solar_Energy.pdf

    It took several decades to figure out what happened because of a black-out of key information:

    1. Stalin’s troops captured Japan’s atomic bomb plant at Konan, Korea in late August 1945 and

    2. Unreported CHAOS and FEAR of nuclear annihilation convinced world leaders, “BETTER RED THAN DEAD!”

    Oliver K. Manuel

  2. Excellent post. I’m not convinced of the touted sc14/24 comparison either.
    The similarity between sc12 and sc24 is something I’ve been watching for a few years now. I think I caught on in late 2011, interestingly both were ‘bisected’ by a Venus transit (1882/2012), not that I think that played a part. The similarities in elements of British weather were what stuck out for me (see link). Piers Corbyn also noted the similarities before but looks at a double triplet of hale cycles (132 years i.e. 6*22) whereas I looked at a straight 130 yr ‘repeat’ as it was what stood out for me. Both of us picked up on a powerful southerly UK October storm but Piers was far more accurate in timing there. I made a comment in Jan 2013 at Tallbloke’s regarding the cold of Mar 2013 based solely on 1883, referenced here –

    p.s. typo – peak for sc12 should be Dec 1883 not 1893. I can see two references to 1893, both by the sc12/24 comparison chart, one just above and the other in the image caption Iitself.

    • Thanks… I will correct the typo post haste. I check and double check this stuff when writing but still make silly mistakes. 😦

      Sunspot activity over the last 8 months or so has invalidated the Cycle 14 linkage that looked so good early in Cycle 24.

      I was quite surprised how remarkably matched C12 is to C24 when I graphed it a few days ago.

      You notice I didn’t mention any long-term solar cycles in this article. That’s because the sunspot record is so short (400 years) that it’s hard for me to believe that 100+ year cycles are truly permanent features. The sunspot record just isn’t long enough to prove them to be permanent cycles. They could be temporary rhythms that will dissolve in the next 200 years or so.

      • No matter where I’ve worked or how many extra eyes I’ve had, mistakes always seem to creep in, not to mention the grammatical or ‘type correction’ atrocities. *sigh*.

        I saw your last post mentioning similarities of sc 12 & 24 (think I reblogged), certainly looking better as it progresses.

        I agree on the paucity of solar data. Just like temperature data, we have such a short, often patchy, record that it’s difficult to draw anything more than inferences – especially in light of the poor resolution the further we go back.

        There are obvious cycles (day/night, perigee/apogee,
        seasons, enso, amo/pdo etc) but they themselves may be subject to other longer cycles and so on, with larger cycles changing the natural cycles we think we know. There are so many variables, mostly unknown and as you say those we think we know could well fade.

        Watch a wave and it looks chaotic but watch it long enough and you’ll see a pattern emerge (besides the tides of course):

        “From a high cliff, Papillon observes that every seventh wave that comes into a small harbor rebounds from the rocks and is powerful enough to carry him out to sea. Manufacturing two floats, he tries, unsuccessfully, to persuade Dega to come with him. After embracing Dega, Papillon leaps from the cliff and, grasping his float, is carried into the sea.

        A narrator states that Papillon lived the rest of his life in freedom, and outlived the prison. The prison is shown abandoned and overgrown by jungle plants.” (from Wikipedia viz the 1973 prison film starring Dustin Hoffman)

        I have read the seven waves may have some substance to it* (conditions dependent of course) and the last sentence seems a nice metaphor for paradigms falling, however if there had been a storm in the distance I’m sure Papillon may well have crashed against the rocks.

        The shape of our ocean basins or the land that air flows over is not static, nor our solar system so when a pattern ‘repeats’ it is unlikely to be the same. However it just might be enough alike to be forewarned if similar forcings are in play – knowing that is quite handy, even if not always true. Hopefully that’s what we’re slowly unveiling now with many curious eyes looking on.

        I’d expect a few typos on the way tho’ 😉

        *Waves in Oceanic and Coastal Waters By Leo H. Holthuijsen

    • Craig, how shall we feel with 1883 to 2014 optical instruments capabilities improvements ? Present optics diffuse much less sun parasitic light, allowing astronomers to see small spots which were unvisible a century ago.
      Are present studies based upon a dot for dot comparison?

      • You are right. Optics have improved greatly over time and we can see far dimmer spots than in the past.

        That is why, to preserve the integrity of the long-term sunspot record, telescopes with the same optical qualities as the telescope used by Rudolf Wolf are used in tallying the daily international sunspot (Wolf) number (ISN) today.

        Rudolf Wolf first calibrated the sunspot record in 1848. The very telescope he used, I believe, is still used today to count sunspots. Wolf’s basic formula is:
        R = k(10g + s) where:
        g = number of sunspot groups
        s = total spots
        k = adjustment factor for location, instrumentation and individual

        Another modern count, called the Group Number (GN) was established in 1998. It just counts groups and not individual spots. It is even less granular than ISN tallies done with Wolf’s original telescope, but can be used to more accurately extended the human-counted sunspot tallies back before 1749.

      • Yes, optics have improved, but we cannot understand what causes climate change because technological improvements in solar measurements were more than offset by blind belief in the Standard Solar Model of Hydrogen-filled stars [1] after WWII.

        Fred Hoyle explained these change on pages 153-154 of his autobiography [2], when mainstream opinions on the internal composition of the Sun and ordinary stars were abruptly changed from

        a.) Mostly iron (Fe) in 1945 to
        b.) Mostly hydrogen (H) in 1946

        1. “Super-fluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate”, Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002): Or

        2. Fred Hoyle, Home Is Where the Wind Blows [University Science Books, 1994, 441 pages]: Pages 153-154 explain how the Standard Solar Model came into existence in 1946 without discussion or debate.

      • If the cores of stars are iron, then why is iron a tiny, tiny fraction of a fraction of the trace elements found in the universe?

        Why isn’t iron found in greater abundance in the remains of supernovae? Why is iron and other heavier elements only found in trace amounts in their remains?

        Why does hydrogen, alleged by physicists through fusion to power stars (not iron), make up 70% of all the matter in the known universe? Why is helium, the byproduct of hydrogen fusion, the second most abundant element in the universe?

        Why is the amount of helium found beautifully consistent with the BB Theory based on standard atomic theory, the background temperature and the age of the universe?

        Why is the percentage of helium in agreement with standard theory calculations for element creation during the first three minutes?

  3. Reblogged this on the WeatherAction Blog and commented:
    Solar cycle 24 looka remarkably like cycle 12.

  4. Steve McDonald

    This flat lining of the temperature may not be a pause. It’s a non-proven term. It’s unscientific to use it until it is proven to be.

    We are also asking how the downturn in solar activity will affect climate change when we should be asking how it will affect the climate.

    They are putting words and terms in our mouths and we are appearing to validate them.

    Let’s be accurate and leave the mythology and propaganda to them.

    • Whether you call it a “pause” or a “hiatus” or something else, the data says earth’s surface air temperature has remained statistically unchanged for over 10 years. There has been no traditionally defined global warming in that time.

      Satellite data also shows that, over the last three solar cycles, the sun’s radiant energy output is less during solar minimums than maximums.

      The data, as we know it today, indicates the sun is entering into a prolonged low solar activity phase.

      Whether or not that translates into cooler temperatures and other climate effects on earth in the next decades is a debatable topic.

      A betting person who plays the odds, like me, would bet earth’s temperature will remain largely unchanged with some slight cooling lasting at least two more decades, just like we’ve seen twice before since 1850:

  1. Pingback: Sun Entering Into A Weak Dalton Minimum? | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

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