AAS 200th meeting, Albuquerque, NM, June 2002
Session 57. Living with a Star
Display, Wednesday, June 5, 2002, 10:00am-7:00pm, SW Exhibit Hall

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[57.04] Comparing Sunspot Area and Sunspot Number as Proxies for Long-term Solar Irradiance Variation

S. D. Jordan (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD), A. G. Garcia (Coimbra Solar Observatory, Coimbra, Portugal)

Because relevant observations from space began only in 1979 with Nimbus-7, it is impossible to correlate direct measurements of small changes in solar irradiance with terrestrial temperature over a number of solar cycles. Yet there is recent evidence that some feature of solar change over a cycle may have a larger influence on climate than would result from merely introducing the additional amount of heat delivered to Earth's atmosphere at solar minimum. It would be useful to check this possiblity over several solar cycles. To do this, we would need a sufficiently reliable proxy for irrradiance change that at least survives a test against the space observations. Sunspot area is a fairly straightforward parameter to measure, and is associated with the extent of magnetic activity known to correlate strongly with solar irradiance change. We have tested the use of sunspot area as a long-term proxy for solar irradiance change, using observations made at the Coimbra Solar Observatory, from which we obtain both statistically weighted sunspot numbers and sunspot areas over the period 1980-1992. These are both correlated with solar irradiance values measured from Nimbus-7 spacecraft over the same time period, to see if sunspot area offers affords a strong positive correlation and also a distinct advantage over sunspot number as a useful proxy that can then be compared with terrestrial temperature records. Preliminary results yield a positive correlation of 0.71 for sunspot area, but further tests are being conducted and will be reported.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.