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Fire and Ice (and ENSO)

By Joe D'Aleo
Monday, October 19, 2009

This week we will do an update on the solar, the polar ice and ENSO.


After a spotless August, a pair of sunspot groups in September led to a monthly sunspot for September of 4.5. After passing off the visible solar disk early on the first, October has returned to spotless conditions again the last week. 2009 continues to climb up the list of most spotless day years now in 12th place since 1849. We are likely to challenge or even surpass 2008’s 4th place total of 266 days. Note 2007 also made the top 20 in 20th place with 163 spotless days.

We have had well over 700 spotless days this transition more than double the number the last 4 cycles. By the 66 month after the first spotless days in cycles 16-23, there were no more spotless days. In month 68 this transition we had a month with 31 spotless days (August). The following courtesy of Solaemon's Spotless Days Page.

We are behaving much more like cycles 10-15, which had longer tails with spotless days continuing with spotless days continuing as far as 132 months.

You can see on this chart how we are actually in the higher end of the range for cycles 10-15 (late 1800s to early 1900s). As we have noted in prior reports, we believe we are more like the late 1700s and early 1800s thanks to the phasing of the 213 and 106 year cycles.

The following is the Clilverd statistical forecast showing that 200 year minimum.

The early 1800s was the Dalton Minimum, the Age of Dickens with cold and snow in Britain and northern Europe and North America.




Meanwhile perhaps related in part to the quiet sun, the Arctic has shown continued strong recovery from the 2007 minimum and the Antarctic melt was the lowest on record.

Compare the arctic ice this year with 2007 side-by-side above. You can see the levels in red (2009) stayed above 2008 and 2007 close to the minimum of 2005.


The ice minimum level was 26% greater than in 2007.

In the Antarctic “The ice melt across during the Antarctic summer (October-January) of 2008-2009 was the lowest ever recorded in the satellite history.”

Such was the finding reported last week by Marco Tedesco and Andrew Monaghan in the journal Geophysical Research Letters: “A 30-year minimum Antarctic snowmelt record occurred during austral summer 2008-2009 according to spaceborne microwave observations for 1980-2009.

Standardized values of the Antarctic snow melt index (October-January) from 1980-2009  (adapted from Tedesco and Monaghan, 2009)

The anomaly chart courtesy of the UIL Cryosphere shows the recent persistence of strong POSITIVE ice anomalies for the Antarctic.


The El Nino has weakened in the last month. We have seen some cooling especially in the eastern tropical Pacific. The MEI has diminished from 0.97 to 0.75 and the SOI which has never been strongly onboard the El Nino train actually was positive (on the La Nina side). It is weakest of all El Ninos this stage.      

See the cooling in regions 1 and 2 in the east here.

Even with a weaker El Nino, there has been some pop in global temperatures as occurs invariably with El Ninos just as cooling occurs with La Ninas. The volcanoes and ENSO can explain virtually all the changed shown above year to year in temperatures.


Given the tendency for El Ninos to be brief and weaker in the cold PDO, we might expect an early demise of this one with a return to La Nina perhaps in 2010/11.

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