According to a new study, seasonal changes on the Sun cause an upswing in solar disturbances after the peak in the solar cycle.
The study, which was conducted by the researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), has found that the Sun undergoes a type of seasonal variability with its activity waxing and waning over the course of nearly two years.
Scott McIntosh, director of the NCAR, and the lead author of the study, said, “What we’re looking at here is a massive driver of solar storms. By better understanding how these activity bands form in the Sun and cause seasonal instabilities, there’s the potential to greatly improve forecasts of space weather events.”
The researchers stated that the Sun has a sort of seasonal variability, which affects the peaks and valleys of the Sun’s 11 year solar cycle. This occasionally amplifies and weakens the solar storms that can affect Earth’s atmosphere.
According to the researchers, the variations, which happen on the Sun, are driven by changes in the bands of strong magnetic fields in its hemisphere. Analysis of twisted, ring shaped bands of the Sun showed they rise from the solar interior and on to the surface, where they correlated with changes in solar flares and CMEs. The rotation of the Sun’s interior is fueled by the overlapping of these bands. Bands moving within the northern and southern hemispheres peak over a period and then they start to wane after that.
“If you understand what the patterns of solar activity are telling you, you’ll know whether we’re in the stormy phase or the quiet phase in each hemisphere. If we can combine these pieces of information, forecast skill goes through the roof,” added McIntosh.
The researchers believe that their findings will help to predict huge geomagnetic storms that can disrupt satellite operations, power grids and communications.
The findings were published in the Nature Communications journal.