Vol. 5 (2008) > lrsp-2008-3

doi: 10.12942/lrsp-2008-3
Living Rev. Solar Phys. 5 (2008), 3

A History of Solar Activity over Millennia

1 Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (Oulu unit), FIN-90014 University of Oulu, Finland

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Article Abstract

Presented here is a review of present knowledge of the long-term behavior of solar activity on a multi-millennial timescale, as reconstructed using the indirect proxy method. The concept of solar activity is discussed along with an overview of the special indices used to quantify different aspects of variable solar activity, with special emphasis upon sunspot number. Over long timescales, quantitative information about past solar activity can only be obtained using a method based upon indirect proxy, such as the cosmogenic isotopes 14C and 10Be in natural stratified archives (e.g., tree rings or ice cores). We give an historical overview of the development of the proxy-based method for past solar-activity reconstruction over millennia, as well as a description of the modern state. Special attention is paid to the verification and cross-calibration of reconstructions. It is argued that this method of cosmogenic isotopes makes a solid basis for studies of solar variability in the past on a long timescale (centuries to millennia) during the Holocene. A separate section is devoted to reconstructions of strong solar–energetic-particle (SEP) events in the past, that suggest that the present-day average SEP flux is broadly consistent with estimates on longer timescales, and that the occurrence of extra-strong events is unlikely. Finally, the main features of the long-term evolution of solar magnetic activity, including the statistics of grand minima and maxima occurrence, are summarized and their possible implications, especially for solar/stellar dynamo theory, are discussed.

Keywords: Dynamo, Paleo-astrophysics, Long-term reconstructions, Solar activity, Cosmogenic isotopes, Solar-terrestrial relations

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Since a Living Reviews in Solar Physics article may evolve over time, please cite the access <date>, which uniquely identifies the version of the article you are referring to:

Ilya G. Usoskin,
"A History of Solar Activity over Millennia",
Living Rev. Solar Phys. 5,  (2008),  3. URL (cited on <date>):
http://www.livingreviews.org/lrsp-2008-3

Article History

ORIGINAL http://www.livingreviews.org/lrsp-2008-3
Title A History of Solar Activity over Millennia
Author Ilya G. Usoskin
Date accepted 5 September 2008, published 21 October 2008
FAST-TRACK REVISION  
Date accepted 21 April 2010, published 22 April 2010
Changes The review has been updated by an overview of recent relevant papers (19 new references), published between 2008 and March 2010, and their role in advancing the topic of long-term solar activity. For detailed description see here .

RefDB records no longer cited by this article:

RefDB records now cited by this article:
UPDATE http://www.livingreviews.org/lrsp-2013-1
Title A History of Solar Activity over Millennia
Author Ilya G. Usoskin
Date accepted 7 March 2013, published 21 March 2013
Changes The review has been thoroughly revised and updated. Added Sections 3.8 and 5.1 and 8 new figures (3 were removed). 55 new references have been included (4 were removed).
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