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Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Quiet Sun - Cold Earth: 2008 Now #3 for Most Sunspotless Days - Could we Reach #2?

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM, AMS Fellow

One of our loyal Canadian Icecap readers asked us to comment on the fact we are now at the end of November, in the top five years with the most sunspotless days the last century (ranking #3) perhaps even heading topwards a #2 finish depending on how many spotless days we have in December. Here is a comparison of monthly spotless days in this cycle 23 minimum (red) versus the last cycle 22 minimum in the mid 1990s (blue). 

See larger image here

Notice how quiet and prolonged this minimum has been compared to the last minimum. As of today, December 8, we have had 246 spotless days in 2008, enough to put us in 3rd place ahead of 1954. Today will extend the latest string of sunspotless days to 21, 8 this month. If we match November’s 16 spotless days in December, we will be in a virtual tie for second place with 1912 (with 253 spotless days) behind just 1913 which had 311 spotless days (data source SIDC).

See larger image here

Notice how 2007 and 2008 are both in the top 10. 

So far in the solar minimum after cycle 23, we have had 489 spotless days, the most since cycles 14-16, in the early 1900s. Note in cycle 14, three years came in the top 10 for spotless days, 1911, 1912, 1913.  This is the second year in this cycle in the top 10. 1912 was the second high spotless year after cycle 14.


Case in point the Maunder Minimum during the little ice age, virtually spotless for decades/centuries from the late 1400s to early 1700s. The early 1800 quiet sun period known as the Dalton Minimum was a mini ice age. Cold returned in the late 1800s and early 1900s with again a declining sun.

See this story in the Toronto Star by Adam Mayers from February 2007. It talks about 1911/12 winter, the worst winter of the century for that city.

“It may seem cold this week, but it is nothing, nothing, compared with the winter of 1912, a year that remains in the record books as the worst winter of the past 100 years. By mid-January, it was so cold Toronto harbour was frozen solid. By early February, the near-shore lake ice was a metre thick, and you could skate from Toronto to Hamilton if you had the time. By the middle of the month, everyone was taking bets on whether the lake was frozen over. By month-end, it was. It was the rumour that the lake ice was finally solid from Toronto to Rochester that brought a huge crowd to Sunnyside Park on the afternoon of Feb. 11, 1912. They wanted to witness what the Star called a once-in-a-lifetime experience, “a spectacle they had never seen before and may never witness again.”


Read more here (UPDATED). See David Archibald’s post on Warwick Hughes site on the evidence for and implications of another Dalton Minimum. 

Posted on 12/03 at 03:23 PM
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