The Evolution of the Sun's Open Magnetic Flux - II. Full Solar Cycle Simulations

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In this paper the origin and evolution of the Sun's open magnetic flux is considered by conducting magnetic flux transport simulations over many solar cycles. The simulations include the effects of differential rotation, meridional flow and supergranular diffusion on the radial magnetic field at the surface of the Sun as new magnetic bipoles emerge and are transported poleward. In each cycle the emergence of roughly 2100 bipoles is considered. The net open flux produced by the surface distribution is calculated by constructing potential coronal fields with a source surface from the surface distribution at regular intervals. In the simulations the net open magnetic flux closely follows the total dipole component at the source surface and evolves independently from the surface flux. The behaviour of the open flux is highly dependent on meridional flow and many observed features are reproduced by the model. However, when meridional flow is present at observed values the maximum value of the open flux occurs at cycle minimum when the polar caps it helps produce are the strongest. This is inconsistent with observations by Lockwood, Stamper and Wild (1999) and Wang, Sheeley, and Lean ( 2000) who find the open flux peaking 1-2 years after cycle maximum. Only in unrealistic simulations where meridional flow is much smaller than diffusion does a maximum in open flux consistent with observations occur. It is therefore deduced that there is no realistic parameter range of the flux transport variables that can produce the correct magnitude variation in open flux under the present approximations. As a result the present standard model does not contain the correct physics to describe the evolution of the Sun's open magnetic flux over an entire solar cycle. Future possible improvements in modeling are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-309
Number of pages23
JournalSolar Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002




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