SPACE AND COSMIC RAY PHYSICS SEMINAR

University of Maryland
Atlantic Building, Room 2400
4:30 PM Monday, October 19, 2009
Coffee, Tea & Snacks 4:15-4:30 PM

Neil Sheeley
NRL

"What's So Peculiar about the Current Sunspot Minimum?"

Abstract: Traditionally, solar physicists become anxious during sunspot minimum as they await the high-latitude sunspot groups of the new cycle. Now, the Sun is slowly emerging from an extended sunspot minimum with conditions not seen in several cycles. In this talk, I will describe some of the characteristics of the current minimum, including its depth, its extended duration, its weak polar magnetic fields, and its small amount of open flux. Flux-transport simulations suggest that these characteristics are a consequence of temporal variations of the Sun's large-scale meridional circulation. They also raise the question of whether the next sunspot maximum may be a relatively small one.