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Predictions of Solar Cycle 24: How are We Doing?Predictions of solar activity are an essential part of our Space Weather forecast capability. Users are requiring usable predictions of an upcoming solar cycle to be delivered several years before solar minimum. A set of predictions of the amplitude of Solar Cycle 24 accumulated in 2008 ranged from zero to unprecedented levels of solar activity. The predictions formed an almost normal distribution, centered on the average amplitude of all preceding solar cycles. The average of the current compilation of 105 predictions of the annual-average sunspot number is 106 +/- 31, slightly lower than earlier compilations but still with a wide distribution. Solar Cycle 24 is on track to have a below-average amplitude, peaking at an annual sunspot number of about 80. Our need for solar activity predictions and our desire for those predictions to be made ever earlier in the preceding solar cycle will be discussed. Solar Cycle 24 has been a below-average sunspot cycle. There were peaks in the daily and monthly averaged sunspot number in the Northern Hemisphere in 2011 and in the Southern Hemisphere in 2014. With the rapid increase in solar data and capability of numerical models of the solar convection zone we are developing the ability to forecast the level of the next sunspot cycle. But predictions based only on the statistics of the sunspot number are not adequate for predicting the next solar maximum. I will describe how we did in predicting the amplitude of Solar Cycle 24 and describe how solar polar field predictions could be made more accurate in the future.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Pesnell, William D. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
April 20, 2017
Publication Date
January 14, 2016
Publication Information
Publication: Space Weather
Volume: 14
Issue: 1
ISSN: 1539-4956
Subject Category
Solar Physics
Report/Patent Number
Distribution Limits