Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Solar cycle


We derive two principal components (PCs) of temporal magnetic field variations over the solar cycles 21-24 from full disk magnetograms covering about 39% of data variance, with σ = 0.67. These PCs are attributed to two main magnetic waves travelling from the opposite hemispheres with close frequencies and increasing phase shift. Using symbolic regeression analysis we also derive mathematical formulae for these waves and calculate their summary curve which we show is linked to solar activity index. Extrapolation of the PCs backward for 800 years reveals the two 350-year grand cycles superimposed on 22 year-cycles with the features showing a remarkable resemblance to sunspot activity reported in the past including the Maunder and Dalton minimum. The summary curve calculated for the next millennium predicts further three grand cycles with the closest grand minimum occurring in the forthcoming cycles 26-27 with the two magnetic field waves separating into the opposite hemispheres leading to strongly reduced solar activity. These grand cycle variations are probed by α - Ω dynamo model with meridional circulation. Dynamo waves are found generated with close frequencies whose interaction leads to beating effects responsible for the grand cycles (350-400 years) superimposed on a standard 22 year cycle. This approach opens a new era in investigation and confident prediction of solar activity on a millenium timescale.

Concepts: Magnetic field, Mathematics, Sun, Electric current, Principal component analysis, Phase, Sunspot, Solar cycle


The elemental composition in the coronae of low-activity solar-like stars appears to be related to fundamental stellar properties such as rotation, surface gravity, and spectral type. Here we use full-Sun observations from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, to show that when the Sun is observed as a star, the variation of coronal composition is highly correlated with a proxy for solar activity, the F10.7 cm radio flux, and therefore with the solar cycle phase. Similar cyclic variations should therefore be detectable spectroscopically in X-ray observations of solar analogs. The plasma composition in full-disk observations of the Sun is related to the evolution of coronal magnetic field activity. Our observations therefore introduce an uncertainty into the nature of any relationship between coronal composition and fixed stellar properties. The results highlight the importance of systematic full-cycle observations for understanding the elemental composition of solar-like stellar coronae.The Sun’s elemental composition is a vital part of understanding the processes that transport energy from the interior to the outer atmosphere. Here, the authors show that if the Sun is observed as a star, then the variation of coronal composition is highly correlated with the F10.7cm radio flux.

Concepts: Energy, Earth, Sun, Plasma, Star, Sunspot, Corona, Solar cycle


Through reduction of a huge data set spanning 2010-2017, we compare mean global changes in temperature, emission measure (EM), and underlying photospheric magnetic field of the solar corona over most of the last activity cycle. The quiet coronal mean temperature rises from 1.4 to 1.8 MK, whereas EM increases by almost a factor of 50% from solar minimum to maximum. An increased high-temperature component near 3 MK at solar maximum drives the increase in quiet coronal mean temperature, whereas the bulk of the plasma remains near 1.6 MK throughout the cycle. The mean, spatially smoothed magnitude of the quiet Sun magnetic field rises from 1.6 G in 2011 to peak at 2.0 G in 2015. Active region conditions are highly variable, but their mean remains approximately constant over the cycle, although there is a consistent decrease in active region high-temperature emission (near 3 MK) between the peak of solar maximum and present. Active region mean temperature, EM, and magnetic field magnitude are highly correlated. Correlation between sunspot/active region area and quiet coronal conditions shows the important influence of decaying sunspots in driving global changes, although we find no appreciable delay between changes in active region area and quiet Sun magnetic field strength. The hot coronal contribution to extreme ultraviolet (EUV) irradiance is dominated by the quiet corona throughout most of the cycle, whereas the high variability is driven by active regions. Solar EUV irradiance cannot be predicted accurately by sunspot index alone, highlighting the need for continued measurements.

Concepts: Sun, Plasma, Solar flare, Sunspot, Corona, Photosphere, Solar cycle, Solar eclipse


Estimates of the global economic impacts of observed climate change during the 20th century obtained by applying five impact functions of different integrated assessment models (IAMs) are separated into their main natural and anthropogenic components. The estimates of the costs that can be attributed to natural variability factors and to the anthropogenic intervention with the climate system in general tend to show that: 1) during the first half of the century, the amplitude of the impacts associated with natural variability is considerably larger than that produced by anthropogenic factors and the effects of natural variability fluctuated between being negative and positive. These non-monotonic impacts are mostly determined by the low-frequency variability and the persistence of the climate system; 2) IAMs do not agree on the sign (nor on the magnitude) of the impacts of anthropogenic forcing but indicate that they steadily grew over the first part of the century, rapidly accelerated since the mid 1970’s, and decelerated during the first decade of the 21st century. This deceleration is accentuated by the existence of interaction effects between natural variability and natural and anthropogenic forcing. The economic impacts of anthropogenic forcing range in the tenths of percentage of the world GDP by the end of the 20th century; 3) the impacts of natural forcing are about one order of magnitude lower than those associated with anthropogenic forcing and are dominated by the solar forcing; 4) the interaction effects between natural and anthropogenic factors can importantly modulate how impacts actually occur, at least for moderate increases in external forcing. Human activities became dominant drivers of the estimated economic impacts at the end of the 20th century, producing larger impacts than those of low-frequency natural variability. Some of the uses and limitations of IAMs are discussed.

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Climate change, 21st century, Solar variation, Global warming, Anthropogenic, Solar cycle


Any reduction in global mean near-surface temperature due to a future decline in solar activity is likely to be a small fraction of projected anthropogenic warming. However, variability in ultraviolet solar irradiance is linked to modulation of the Arctic and North Atlantic Oscillations, suggesting the potential for larger regional surface climate effects. Here, we explore possible impacts through two experiments designed to bracket uncertainty in ultraviolet irradiance in a scenario in which future solar activity decreases to Maunder Minimum-like conditions by 2050. Both experiments show regional structure in the wintertime response, resembling the North Atlantic Oscillation, with enhanced relative cooling over northern Eurasia and the eastern United States. For a high-end decline in solar ultraviolet irradiance, the impact on winter northern European surface temperatures over the late twenty-first century could be a significant fraction of the difference in climate change between plausible AR5 scenarios of greenhouse gas concentrations.

Concepts: Earth, Sun, Atlantic Ocean, Sunlight, Climate change, Solar variation, Global warming, Solar cycle


The identification of causal effects is a fundamental problem in climate change research. Here, a new perspective on climate change causality is presented using the central England temperature (CET) dataset, the longest instrumental temperature record, and a combination of slow feature analysis and wavelet analysis. The driving forces of climate change were investigated and the results showed two independent degrees of freedom -a 3.36-year cycle and a 22.6-year cycle, which seem to be connected to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycle and the Hale sunspot cycle, respectively. Moreover, these driving forces were modulated in amplitude by signals with millennial timescales.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Climate change, Degrees of freedom, Solar cycle


To examine the influence of solar cycle and geomagnetic effects on the incidence of giant cell arteritis (GCA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Concepts: Rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, Vasculitis, Solar variation, Cycle, Giant cell arteritis, Solar cycle


Many studies have reported evidence for solar-forcing of Holocene climate change across a range of archives. These studies have compared proxy-climate data with records of solar variability (e.g. (14)C or (10)Be), or have used time series analysis to test for the presence of solar-type cycles. This has led to some climate sceptics misrepresenting this literature to argue strongly that solar variability drove the rapid global temperature increase of the twentieth century. As proxy records underpin our understanding of the long-term processes governing climate, they need to be evaluated thoroughly. The peatland archive has become a prominent line of evidence for solar forcing of climate. Here we examine high-resolution peatland proxy climate data to determine whether solar signals are present. We find a wide range of significant periodicities similar to those in records of solar variability: periods between 40-100 years, and 120-140 years are particularly common. However, periodicities similar to those in the data are commonly found in random-walk simulations. Our results demonstrate that solar-type signals can be the product of random variations alone, and that a more critical approach is required for their robust interpretation.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Climate, Weather, Climate change, Time series, Solar variation, Global warming, Solar cycle


Radiocarbon content in tree rings can be an excellent proxy of the past incoming cosmic ray intensities to Earth. Although such past cosmic ray variations have been studied by measurements of (14)C contents in tree rings with ≥10-y time resolution for the Holocene, there are few annual (14)C data. There is a little understanding about annual (14)C variations in the past, with the exception of a few periods including the AD 774-775 (14)C excursion where annual measurements have been performed. Here, we report the result of (14)C measurements using the bristlecone pine tree rings for the period from 5490 BC to 5411 BC with 1- to 2-y resolution, and a finding of an extraordinarily large (14)C increase (20‰) from 5481 BC to 5471 BC (the 5480 BC event). The (14)C increase rate of this event is much larger than that of the normal grand solar minima. We propose the possible causes of this event are an unknown phase of grand solar minimum, or a combination of successive solar proton events and a normal grand solar minimum.

Concepts: Pine, Pinus classification, Radiocarbon dating, Cosmic ray, Carbon-14, Dendrochronology, Solar cycle, Bristlecone pine


Solar magnetism displays a host of variational timescales of which the enigmatic 11-year sunspot cycle is most prominent. Recent work has demonstrated that the sunspot cycle can be explained in terms of the intra- and extra-hemispheric interaction between the overlapping activity bands of the 22-year magnetic polarity cycle. Those activity bands appear to be driven by the rotation of the Sun’s deep interior. Here we deduce that activity band interaction can qualitatively explain the ‘Gnevyshev Gap’-a well-established feature of flare and sunspot occurrence. Strong quasi-annual variability in the number of flares, coronal mass ejections, the radiative and particulate environment of the heliosphere is also observed. We infer that this secondary variability is driven by surges of magnetism from the activity bands. Understanding the formation, interaction and instability of these activity bands will considerably improve forecast capability in space weather and solar activity over a range of timescales.

Concepts: Sun, Climate change, Solar variation, Solar wind, Sunspot, Corona, Solar cycle, Solar phenomena