University of Maryland
Atlantic Building, Room 2400
4:30 PM Monday, November 2, 2009
Coffee, Tea & Snacks 4:15-4:30 PM

Dean Pesnell
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)
What Is Solar Minimum and Why Should We Care?

The study of solar minimum has been a poor cousin to solar maximum due to the large variations seen in the Sun during maximum. Solar activity is low or absent during solar minimum and all of the phenomena that follow the sunspot number are also smaller in frequency and strength. Even the definition of solar minimum is difficult because the main indicator of solar activity is zero for an extended period of time. But the Sun presents a different face at minimum. The magnetic field is weaker but far more symmetric, almost a dipole for the few minimum that have been measured. A similar behavior is seen in the corona measured by coronagraphs and magnetic fields measured in the heliosphere. Particle fluxes in the solar wind are smaller. As a result the scattering of galactic cosmic rays is reduced and a larger flux of GCRs is be seen at Earth. The current solar minimum has been extreme in having weaker surface fields than previous measurements, few spots for longer than average, and an interesting signature in Earth¹s magnetic field. We shall discuss these magnetic signatures and the implications for Space Weather and climate of a time with weak solar activity.

Sponsored by: Department of Physics and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, University of Maryland. For information call Victoria at (301) 405-4811 or go to the UMD Space Physics group seminar web site.

There is free parking after 4:00 PM in lot B (the big parking garage across the street from the ATL building). There are a limited number of spaces in lot Q next to the new ATL wing with free parking after 4PM even when there is a basketball game on campus.