Reconstructing solar magnetic fields from historical observations
III. Activity in one hemisphere is sufficient to cause polar field reversals in both hemispheres
ReSoLVE Centre of Excellence, Space Climate research unit, University of Oulu, PO Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland
2 National Solar Observatory, Boulder, CO 80303, USA
Accepted: 24 May 2018
Aims. Sunspot activity is often hemispherically asymmetric, and during the Maunder minimum, activity was almost completely limited to one hemisphere. In this work, we use surface flux simulation to study how magnetic activity limited only to the southern hemisphere affects the long-term evolution of the photospheric magnetic field in both hemispheres. The key question is whether sunspot activity in one hemisphere is enough to reverse the polarity of polar fields in both hemispheres.
Methods. We simulated the evolution of the photospheric magnetic field from 1978 to 2016 using the observed active regions of the southern hemisphere as input. We studied the flow of magnetic flux across the equator and its subsequent motion towards the northern pole. We also tested how the simulated magnetic field is changed when the activity of the southern hemisphere is reduced.
Results. We find that activity in the southern hemisphere is enough to reverse the polarity of polar fields in both hemispheres by the cross-equatorial transport of magnetic flux. About 1% of the flux emerging in the southern hemisphere is transported across the equator, but only 0.1%–0.2% reaches high latitudes to reverse and regenerate a weak polar field in the northern hemisphere. The polarity reversals in the northern hemisphere are delayed compared to the southern hemisphere, leading to a quadrupole Sun lasting for several years.
Key words: Sun: activity / Sun: magnetic fields / Sun: photosphere
© ESO 2018