Aug. 3, 2021: Solar Cycle 25 is heating up faster than expected. The latest sign may be found in sunspot counts from July 2021. Continuing a trend that started last year, they overperform the official forecast:
Issued by the NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel in 2019, the official forecast calls for Solar Cycle 25 to peak in July 2025. However, a better fit to current data shows Solar Cycle 25 peaking in October 2024. This is just outside the 8-month error bars of the Panel’s forecast.
July 2021 was a remarkable month. Solar Cycle 25 crossed multiple thresholds, including its first X-flare and, at one point, 6 sunspots on the solar disk. The last time so many sunspots were seen at the same time was Sept. 2017 (SWx archive). One farside CME in July was so strong it affected Earth despite being on the “wrong” side of the sun. A handful of other CMEs narrowly missed our planet.
If solar activity increases apace, some of those blows will soon begin to land. Stay tuned.