From the Marshall Space Flight Centre Solar Cycle Prediction.
The current prediction for Sunspot Cycle 24 gives a smoothed sunspot number maximum of about 69 in the Fall of 2013. The smoothed sunspot number has already reached 67 (in February 2012)due to the strong peak in late 2011 so the official maximum will be at least this high and this late. We are currently over four years into Cycle 24. The current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 which had a maximum of 64.2 in February of 1906.
The full colour version:
Now take a look at the Solen site – The Solar terrestrial activity report.
The link will take you to the current date but on the 17th the monthly Solar Cycle Data looked like this
The Solen site uses the same NASA data and yes the smoothed sunspot number was (rounded) 67 in February 2012 but has not been higher since and is falling, and this despite that fact the NASA are counting specs that by their own rules should not be counted.
A much more realistic figure comes from the Layman’s Sunspot Count
January Update: This month saw extremes of activity but overall is measured as low. Most of the action was again recorded in the north which puts some doubt on the likelyhood of a second peak occurring from the south. A southern pole reversal is still looking difficult at this stage. The speck ratio was slightly lower than last month and continues to demonstrate the higher proportion of small spots to large spots during SC24. The LSC was measured at 40.1, SIDC 62.9, NOAA unadjusted at 99.9 (prov). The SIDC for the 21th straight month over counting compared with NOAA.The SIDC/NOAA and LSC/SIDC comparison graph showing a growing difference with the general trend continuing to rise over SC24.
SC24 is still on track to matching SC5.
Even if the south pole has not reversed polarity we seem to be passed max as far as sunspots and flux are concerned.
As sun flips polarity, scientists are bemused. (Posted April 23, 2012)
“Right now, there’s an imbalance between the north and the south poles,” says Jonathan Cirtain, NASA project scientist for Japan’s Hinode solar mission.
“The north is already in transition, well ahead of the south pole, and we don’t understand why.”
Daikou Shiota, a solar scientist at RIKEN Institute of Physics and Chemical Research, and his team used Hinode’s high resolution Solar Optical Telescope to observe the magnetic map of the poles every month since September of 2008……………….
…………..Typical models of the magnetic flip suggest that as active regions rotate around the equator, their higher, trailing edge – which is almost always the opposite polarity from the pole in their hemisphere – drift upward, eventually dominating the status quo and turning positive to negative or negative to positive.
But the Hinode data show that this transition at the north began before such drifting had a chance to occur.
“This is one of the most interesting things in this Hinode paper to me,” says principal investigator for Hinode’s Solar Optical Telescope Ted Tarbell.
“How did the polar reversal start so early, even though the onset of the solar cycle, that is, increased activity at lower latitudes, hadn’t begun yet?”
According to scientists at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the Riken research foundation, current sunspot activity resembles a period in the 17th century known as the Maunder Minimum, the coldest part of the Little Ice Age.