2.4 Predictions of Solar Cycle 24, How are We Doing?

Monday, 7 January 2013: 2:15 PM
Room 16B (Austin Convention Center)
W. Dean Pesnell, NASA, Greenbelt, Maryland

Predictions of solar activity are an essential part of our Space Weather forecast capability. Users are expecting 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. A new compilation had a slightly lower average prediction but still had a wide distribution. Solar Cycle 24 is on track to have a below-average amplitude, peaking at an annual sunspot number of 80-90. I will talk about our need for solar activity predictions and our desire for those predictions to be made ever earlier in the preceding solar cycle. One neglected aspect of predicting solar activity is the presence of hemispheric asymmetry, where the number of active regions in the northern hemisphere does not track those in the south. I will show how introducing an asymmetry can change the predicted amplitude by a considerable amount.
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