We may, if we are lucky see a rare thing in the next few days, it is just possible that a sunspot may appear as the sun rotates round, the SOHO Behind satellite seems to be recording activity at high latitude, which should indicate a cycle 24 spot. We are now at day 13 of the current spotless run, we had a brief 4 day spotted run before this current spell, but before that we had a full 52 days without any spots at all.
This year to date we have had 206 spotless days, that’s 80% of the days this year (not that the sun knows what one of our years is), with a total of 717 spotless days since 2004. The average number of spotless days since records began is 485 days, so we are climbing the listings for quiet cycles.
There have been various comments about the strength of this cycle with much criticism of Hathaway at NASA. What has happened is that his forecast is early, as he had forecasted a much quieter cycle 25 rather than 24. The last 3 cycles, 21, 22 and 23 were strong and short, although 23 was weaker than 22 and 22 was weaker than the big 21, but now the sun has switched off, at least as far as sunspots are concerned. There was a period earlier in the year where it looked as though this cycle was starting to take off, but that lasted just over 2 months and the slumber resumed.
What does this do to the climate? Records show that during the Dalton minimum and the earlier Maunder Minimum parts of Western Europe had shorter growing seasons and much colder winters. Parts of the Northern American Plains In the US and Canada were also substantially cooler. This year, many US Mid West States were substantially cooler than the norm. Parts of the UK have had a washout of a summer, with a jetstream that has been consistently further south than is normal for the time of year. Viewing the way the climate has behaved in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres this year, it seems that the warmer weather from sub tropical zones seems to be drawn closer to the equator, with the colder polar zones expanding, from the poles, giving a small net cooling of the whole planet, but with large regional variations.