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Robert Leamon (University of Maryland) & Scott McIntosh (High Altitude Observatory): Sunspots: just the tip of the activity iceberg

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Abstract: The canonical marker of solar activity is the quasi periodic modulation of sunspots discovered by Schwabe – 70 years before sunspots were discovered to be magnetic objects by Hale. Over the last century and a half, as more observations have been made sunspot modulation has been found wanting in terms of adequately framing solar activity and related impacts on our planet. Indeed – it’s so hard to jam square pegs into round holes, but we are compelled to by history. A discovery made in the last decade has indicated the fundamental mode of solar activity is not the sunspot cycle, but the underlying magnetic cycle. Using the (dramatic) end points of that cycle as a key time we are starting to make sense of the range of solar behavior and their phasing with respect to the magnetic cycle. Will challenges to the canon, no matter how elegant (and physically sensible), be accommodated?

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