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The K7RA Solar Update


Tad Cook, K7RA, Seattle, reports: A new sunspot group appeared on January 20 and another on January 24, followed by two more on January 25 and one more on January 26. But, overall solar activity declined from the previous week, January 13 – 19. Average daily sunspot number dropped from 94.4 to 39.6, and average daily solar flux went from 112 to 97.6.

On January 27 the daily sunspot number was 85, much higher than the average of 39.6 of the previous 7 days — always a good signal for increasing activity.

Predicted solar flux is 105 on January 28 – February 4; 108 on February 5 – 6; 110 on February 7 – 8; 108 on February 9 – 10; 106, 105, 103, 101, 100, and 95 on February 11 – 16; 92 on February 17 – 18; 90 on February 19 – 21; 88, 87, 92, and 94 on February 22 – 25; 96 on February 26 – 28; 98 and 100 on March 1 – 2; 105 on March 3 – 4; then 110 on March 5, and 108 on March 6 – 7.

Predicted planetary A index is 5, 12, and 10 on January 28 – 30; 5 on January 31 – February 3; 15 and 10 on February 4 – 5; 5 on February 6 – 9; 12, 15, and 12 on February 10 – 12; 5 on February 13 – 19; 8 on February 20 – 23; 5, 12, and 10 on February 24 – 26; 5 on February 27 – March 2; then 15 and 10 on March 3 – 4, and 5 on March 5 – 8.

Here’s the “Weekly Commentary on the Sun, the Magnetosphere, and the Earth’s Ionosphere — January 27, 2022,” from F.K. Janda, OK1HH:

Since the end of last November, fluctuations in the level of solar activity within the 27-day periodicity have been more regular, which contributes to the success of the forecasts. This also applies to the occurrence of coronal holes, so predictions of Earth’s magnetic field activity are also more accurate (including the next recurrent geomagnetic disturbance, which we expect on or about February 4). The overall level of solar activity is rising faster than long-term forecasts suggest, so it can be assumed that the maximum of the current 11-year cycle will be higher than the previous one.

Here’s the geomagnetic activity forecast for January 28 – February 3:

  • Quiet January 28, January 31-February 3

  • Unsettled January 29-31

  • Active January 28-29, February 3-4

  • Minor storm February 4

  • Major storm 0

  • Severe storm 0

The geomagnetic activity summary:

Friday, January 28, we expect quiet conditions. Then, starting Saturday, January 29, we expect an unsettled – to – active period ending by January 31. At the start of February, we expect quiet conditions until Thursday, February 3. Around February 3 – 4, we expect a new active episode, which could reach a minor storm level. — Tomas Bayer, RWC Prague, Institute of Geophysics of the ASCR, Prague, Department of Geomagnetism, Budkov Observatory.

On January 16, a ham in Seattle reported:

“Amazing auroral opening on 10 meters Friday at 2100-2230 UTC, CW and SSB. Northern Europe only, GM, DL, SP, UA1, EW, OZ, LA, SM, and best signals were from OH. Very unusual and first time Western Washington [saw a] big opening to EU in years, and it was worked by several W7s. DX Maps showed lots of lines over the North Pole, very late night in Scandinavia.

I often ignore stories from British tabloids, but this one seems not to be overly alarmist.

Regarding rising activity vs forecasts, back in ARLP002 we included this link.

WA7AA responded (edited):

“They went on to say sunspot counts exceeded predicted values for 15 straight months, and the monthly value at the end of December 2021 was the highest in 5 years and more than twice the value forecast by the NOAA/NASA prediction panel.

“This isn’t the first place I’ve seen this claim from the NOAA/NASA prediction panel, and I am wondering if you have any contacts in that group to ask them for some clarification and explanation. There are several problems with this ‘over – performance’ claim in the link above. The first is that the graph on that link places the last solar minimum several months after the actual minimum that occurred in November 2019. That alone can skew any subsequent analysis and make it prone to a misinterpretation.

“The next thing is the graph shows the length of their predicted cycle 25 as 14 years long! This is nowhere near any cycle length in recorded history that, as we all know, averages to around 11 years. No one can even predict a cycle length, so where did they get this from?

“And finally, their predicted cycle graph is a smooth one – peak cycle (slow rising slopes as a result), while most cycles so far have been dual peak cycles (steeper slopes and a sort of a plateau as a result).

“Once you add all three of these errors into the observation, it is easy to make a claim that the Cycle 25 is over – performing the predictions (‘twice the value’) made before it started, that generally placed it in the same strength as Cycle 24 within the 5 – 10% margin.

“However, when the curve is adjusted to start in November 2019, when it’s compressed to the average 11 years length and tweaked to a double peak graph (in other words, more or less carbon copied the Cycle 24 graph), it quickly becomes obvious that the Cycle 25 is so far following the last cycle curve almost exactly, insignificantly higher at 3 – 4 spots per month. A recent cycle comparison confirms this observation. I am by no means an expert in propagation predictions, but it just seems weird that anyone connected to NOAA and/or NASA would make such an error and proceed to stick to it for so long. Am I missing something here? Was this a bad case of wishful thinking on their part? I would like to know what their explanation is.”

Jon, N0JK, reported:

“A major sporadic-E opening on 6 meters took place in the 2022 ARRL January VHF Contest on Saturday afternoon January 15. Starting around 2100 UTC, stations in Florida appeared in Kansas. The opening grew and spread, and by 2300 UTC 6 meters was open to the entire southeast. I received a PSK flag from ZF1EJ and logged XE2X (EL06). The opening then spread east to Ohio and north to Minnesota (N0JCF, EN35). KF0M (EM17) worked Cuba and almost completed with HI3AA. The opening faded at 0046 UTC with K3VN (EL98) last in my log. I was operating single-operator portable 10 W with an MFJ-9406 and a two-element Yagi. Cold and windy! The next morning, a short 6 meter Es opening to Mexico with XE2YWH (DL92) worked at 1435 UTC. All contacts FT8.

“The sporadic-E was a real treat for the January VHF Contest.”

Here’s a link to a video report from Tamitha Skov, WX6SWW.

Sunspot numbers for January 20 – 26 were 60, 23, 22, 22, 26, 53, and 71, with a mean of 39.6. The 10.7-centimeter flux was 99.3, 97.3, 95.2, 93.5, 95.2, 100.9, and 101.8, with a mean of 97.6. Estimated planetary A indices were 5, 8, 10, 8, 4, 13, and 10, with a mean of 8.3. Middle latitude A index was 5, 5, 7, 7, 3, 10, and 8, with a mean of 6.4.

For more information concerning radio propagation, visit the ARRL Technical Information Service, read “What the Numbers Mean…,” and check this propagation page by Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA.

A propagation bulletin archive is available. For customizable propagation charts, visit the VOACAP Online for Ham Radio website.

Instructions for starting or ending email distribution of ARRL bulletins are on the ARRL website.

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