While it is not unexpected that experts predicting how active Solar Cycle (SC) 25 will be compared to SC 24, the new forecast from NASA is significantly different than the National Weather Service forecast.
A few weeks ago, I reported that the National Weather Service forecast for SC 25 activity would be slightly greater than SC 24. They added:
“The expectation that Cycle 25 will be comparable in size to Cycle 24 means that the steady decline in solar cycle amplitude, seen from cycles 21-24, has come to an end and that there is no indication that we are currently approaching a Maunder-type minimum in solar activity.”
NASA’s prediction is different, really different. Their expert says:
Research now underway may have found a reliable new method to predict this solar activity. The Sun’s activity rises and falls in an 11-year cycle. The forecast for the next solar cycle says it will be the weakest of the last 200 years. The maximum of this next cycle – measured in terms of sunspot number, a standard measure of solar activity level – could be 30 to 50% lower than the most recent one. The results show that the next cycle will start in 2020 and reach its maximum in 2025.
The NASA prediction did not discuss the possibility of a Maunder minimum. However their prediction does not rule out a Maunder minimum in progress as it forecasts SC25 will not be the end of a steady decline in solar cycle amplitude.
Both of the predicting groups acknowledge that they are still far from a full understanding of how the Sun works. So, we will just have to wait and see.