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Group sunspot number
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Title: New reconstruction of the sunspot group number since 1739 using the direct calibration and "backbone" methods
Author: Theodosios Chatzistergos, Ilya G. Usoskin, Gennady A. Kovaltsov, Natalie A. Krivova, Sami K. Solanki

Group sunspot number (GSN) series constitute the longest instrumental astronomical database providing information on solar activity. It is a compilation of observations by many individual observers, and their inter-calibration has usually been performed using linear rescaling. There are multiple published series that show different long-term trends for solar activity. We aim at producing a GSN series, with a non-linear non-parametric calibration. The only underlying assumptions are that the differences between the various series are due to different acuity thresholds of the observers, and that the threshold of each observer remains constant throughout the observing period. We use a daisy chain process with backbone (BB) observers and calibrate all overlapping observers to them. The calibration of each individual observer is performed with a probability distribution function (PDF) matrix, constructed considering all daily values for the overlapping period with the BB. The calibration of the BBs is done in a similar manner. Propagation of errors is modelled with Monte Carlo simulations. The final series extends back to 1739 and includes data from 314 observers. It suggests moderate activity during the 18th and 19th century, which is significantly lower than the high level of solar activity predicted by other recent reconstructions applying linear regressions. The new series provides a robust reconstruction, based on modern and non-parametric methods, of sunspot group numbers since 1739, and it confirms the existence of the Modern grand maximum of solar activity in the second half of the 20th century.

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Title: Depth-dependent global properties of a sunspot observed by Hinode (SOT/SP)
Author: Sanjiv K. Tiwari, Michiel van Noort, Sami K. Solanki, Andreas Lagg

The 3D structure of sunspots has been extensively studied for the last two decades. A recent advancement of the Stokes inversion technique prompts us to revisit the problem. We investigate the global depth-dependent thermal, velocity and magnetic properties of a sunspot, as well as the interconnection between various local properties. High quality Stokes profiles of a disk centred, regular sunspot acquired by the SOT/SP (Hinode) are analysed. To obtain the depth-dependent stratification of the physical parameters, we use the spatially coupled version of the SPINOR code. The vertical temperature gradient in the lower to mid-photosphere is smallest in the umbra, it is considerably larger in the penumbra and still somewhat larger in the spot's surroundings. The azimuthally averaged field becomes more horizontal with radial distance from the center of the spot, but more vertical with height. At tau=1, the LOS velocity shows an average upflow of 300 ms-1 in the inner penumbra and an average downflow of 1300 ms-1 in the outer penumbra. The downflow continues outside the visible penumbral boundary. The sunspot shows a moderate negative twist of < 5^0 at tau=1, which increases with height. The sunspot umbra and the spines of the penumbra show considerable similarity in their physical properties albeit with some quantitative differences. The temperature shows a general anticorrelation with the field strength, with the exception of the heads of penumbral filaments, where a weak positive correlation is found. The dependence of the physical parameters on each other over the full sunspot shows a qualitative similarity to that of a standard penumbral filament and its surrounding spines. Our results suggest that the spines in the penumbra are basically the outward extension of the umbra. The spines and the penumbral filaments are together the basic elements forming a sunspot penumbra.

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Corrected Sunspot History Suggests Climate Change since the Industrial Revolution not due to Natural Solar Trends

The Sunspot Number, the longest scientific experiment still ongoing, is a crucial tool used to study the solar dynamo, space weather and climate change. It has now been recalibrated and shows a consistent history of solar activity over the past few centuries. The new record has no significant long-term upward trend in solar activity since 1700, as was previously indicated. This suggests that rising global temperatures since the industrial revolution cannot be attributed to increased solar activity. The analysis, its results and its implications for climate research were made public today at a press briefing at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) XXIX General Assembly, currently taking place in Honolulu, Hawai`i, USA.
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Title: The Effect of Sunspot Weighting
Author: Leif Svalgaard, Marco Cagnotti, Sergio Cortesi

Waldmeier in 1947 introduced a weighting (on a scale from 1 to 5) of the sunspot count made at Zurich and its auxiliary station Locarno, whereby larger spots were counted more than once. This counting method inflates the relative sunspot number over that which corresponds to the scale set by Wolfer and Brunner. Svalgaard re-counted some 60,000 sunspots on drawings from the reference station Locarno and determined that the number of sunspots reported were 'over counted' by 44% on average, leading to an inflation (measured by a weight factor) in excess of 1.2 for high solar activity. In a double-blind parallel counting by the Locarno observer Cagnotti, we determined that Svalgaard's count closely matches that of Cagnotti's, allowing us to determine the daily weight factor since 2003 (and sporadically before). We find that a simple empirical equation fits the observed weight factors well, and use that fit to estimate the weight factor for each month back to the introduction of weighting in 1947 and thus to be able to correct for the over-count and to reduce sunspot counting without weighting to the Wolfer method in use from 1893 onwards.

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Title: Records of sunspot and aurora during CE 960-1279 in the Chinese chronicle of the Song dynasty
Author: Hisashi Hayakawa, Harufumi Tamazawa, Akito D Kawamura, Hiroaki Isobe

Records of sunspots and aurora observations in pre-telescopic historical documents can provide useful information about solar activity in the past. This is also true for extreme space weather events, as they may have been recorded as large sunspots observed by the naked eye or as low-latitude auroras. In this paper, we present the results of a comprehensive survey of records of sunspots and auroras in the Songshi, a Chinese formal chronicle spanning the tenth to the thirteenth century. This chronicle contains a record of continuous observations with well-formatted reports conducted as a policy of the government. A brief comparison of the frequency of observations of sunspots and auroras and the observations of radioisotopes as an indicator of the solar activity during corresponding periods is provided. This paper is the first step of our project in which we survey and compile the records of sunspots and aurora in historical documents from various locations and languages, ultimately providing it to the science community as online data.

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Title: Reconstruction of the Sunspot Group Number: the Backbone Method
Author: Leif Svalgaard, Kennuth H. Schatten

We have reconstructed the sunspot group count, not by comparisons with other reconstructions and correcting those where they were deemed to be deficient, but by a re-assessment of original sources. The resulting series is a pure solar index and does not rely on input from other proxies, e.g. radionuclides, auroral sightings, or geomagnetic records. 'Backboning' the data sets, our chosen method, provides substance and rigidity by using long-time observers as a stiffness character. Solar activity, as defined by the Group Number, appears to reach and sustain for extended intervals of time the same level in each of the last three centuries since 1700 and the past several decades do not seem to have been exceptionally active, contrary to what is often claimed.

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The Solar Cycle

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Title: Sunspot Numbers and Areas from the Madrid Astronomical Observatory (1876-1986)
Author: A.J.P. Aparicio, J.M. Vaquero, V.M.S. Carrasco, M.C. Gallego

The solar program of the Astronomical Observatory of Madrid started in 1876. For ten solar cycles, observations were made in this institution to determine sunspot numbers and areas. The program was completed in 1986. The resulting data have been published in various Spanish scientific publications. The metadata allowed four periods of this program (with different observers and instruments) to be identified. In the present work, the published data were retrieved and digitized. Their subsequent analysis showed that most of these data can be considered reliable given their very high correlation with international reference indices (International Sunspot Number, Group Sunspot Number, and Sunspot Area). An abrupt change emerged in the spots/groups ratio in 1946 which lasted until 1972.

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Title: Formation of starspots in self-consistent global dynamo models: Polar spots on cool stars
Author: Rakesh K. Yadav, Thomas Gastine, Ulrich R. Christensen, Ansgar Reiners

Observations of cool stars reveal dark spot-like features on their surfaces. Compared to sunspots, starspots can be bigger or cover a larger fraction of the stellar surface. While sunspots appear only at low latitudes, starspots are also found in polar regions, in particular on rapidly rotating stars. Sunspots are believed to result from the eruption of magnetic flux-tubes rising from the deep interior of the Sun. The strong magnetic field locally reduces convective heat transport to the solar surface. Such flux-tube models have also been invoked to explain starspot properties. However, these models use several simplifications and so far the generation of either sunspots or starspots has not been demonstrated in a self-consistent simulation of stellar magnetic convection. Here we show that direct numerical simulations of a distributed dynamo operating in a density-stratified rotating spherical shell can spontaneously generate cool spots. Convection in the interior of the model produces a large scale magnetic field which interacts with near surface granular convection leading to strong concentrations of magnetic flux and formation of starspots. Prerequisites for the formation of sizeable high-latitude spots in the model are sufficiently strong density stratification and rapid rotation. Our model presents an alternate mechanism for starspot formation by distributed dynamo action.

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Title: Revisiting the Sunspot Number
Author: Frédéric Clette, Leif Svalgaard, José M. Vaquero, Edward W. Cliver

Our knowledge of the long-term evolution of solar activity and of its primary modulation, the 11-year cycle, largely depends on a single direct observational record: the visual sunspot counts that retrace the last 4 centuries, since the invention of the astronomical telescope. Currently, this activity index is available in two main forms: the International Sunspot Number initiated by R. Wolf in 1849 and the Group Number constructed more recently by Hoyt and Schatten (1998a,b). Unfortunately, those two series do not match by various aspects, inducing confusions and contradictions when used in crucial contemporary studies of the solar dynamo or of the solar forcing on the Earth climate. Recently, new efforts have been undertaken to diagnose and correct flaws and biases affecting both sunspot series, in the framework of a series of dedicated Sunspot Number Workshops. Here, we present a global overview of our current understanding of the sunspot number calibration. While the early part of the sunspot record before 1800 is still characterized by large uncertainties due to poorly observed periods, the more recent sunspot numbers are mainly affected by three main inhomogeneities: in 1880-1915 for the Group Number and in 1947 and 1980-2014 for the Sunspot Number. The newly corrected series clearly indicates a progressive decline of solar activity before the onset of the Maunder Minimum, while the slowly rising trend of the activity after the Maunder Minimum is strongly reduced, suggesting that by the mid 18th century, solar activity had already returned to the level of those observed in recent solar cycles in the 20th century. We finally conclude with future prospects opened by this epochal revision of the Sunspot Number, the first one since Wolf himself, and its reconciliation with the Group Number, a long-awaited modernization that will feed solar cycle research into the 21st century.

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