The Sun's seasonal weather patterns

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Scott McIntosh details the Sun's seasonal weather patterns and demonstrates how understanding the formation, interaction and instability of the Sun's activity bands will considerably improve forecast capability in space weather and solar activity over a range of timescales.

Magnetic variability image
Magnetic variability over the last three decades.

According to Scott McIntosh's recent article published in "Nature Communications," and in the "Daily Camera Boulder News," solar magnetism displays a host of variational timescales of which the enigmatic 11-year sunspot cycle is most prominent. This research demonstrates that Earth isn't the only planet that has a kind-of seasonal variability in its weather patterns. Bands of strong magnetic fields in the Sun's northern and southern hemispheres appear to drive variations in the Sun's solar cycle. Dr. McIntosh explains, "A good analogy for this phenomena is the Gulf Stream, these (magnetic fields) are like big, magnetized Gulf Streams that attract or repel one another." He believes that a more holistic approach to space weather can be gained by changing the focus from a singular sunspot cycle to the individual magnetic bands that comprise the cycle.

Daily Camera Boulder News: New study from Boulder's NCAR details Sun's seasonal weather patterns

Nature Communications Article: The solar magnetic activity band interaction and instabilities that shape quasi-periodic variability