The Solar Cycle

David H. Hathaway  
Mail Code VP62,
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center,
Huntsville, AL 35812, U.S.A.

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The Solar Cycle is reviewed. The 11-year cycle of solar activity is characterized by the rise and fall in the numbers and surface area of sunspots. We examine a number of other solar activity indicators including the 10.7 cm radio flux, the total solar irradiance, the magnetic field, flares and coronal mass ejections, geomagnetic activity, galactic cosmic ray fluxes, and radioisotopes in tree rings and ice cores that vary in association with the sunspots. We examine the characteristics of individual solar cycles including their maxima and minima, cycle periods and amplitudes, cycle shape, and the nature of active latitudes, hemispheres, and longitudes. We examine long-term variability including the Maunder Minimum, the Gleissberg Cycle, and the Gnevyshev–Ohl Rule. Short-term variability includes the 154-day periodicity, quasi-biennial variations, and double peaked maxima. We conclude with an examination of prediction techniques for the solar cycle.

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