34th Solar Physics Division Meeting, June 2003
Session 26 The Changing Solar interior II
Oral, Friday, June 20, 2003, 9:00am-12:00noon, Auditorium

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[26.04] Evidence that a Deep Meridional Flow Sets the Sunspot Cycle Period

D. H. Hathaway (NASA/MSFC/NSSTC), D. Nandy (Dept. of Physics, Montana State University), R. M. Wilson, E. J. Reichmann (NASA/MSFC/NSSTC)

Sunspots appear on the Sun in two bands on either side of the equator that drift toward lower latitudes as each sunspot cycle progresses. We examine the equatorward drift of the centroid of the sunspot area in each hemisphere from 1874 to 2002 and find that the drift rate slows as the centroid approaches the equator. We compare the drift rate at sunspot cycle maximum to the cycle-period for each hemisphere and find a highly significant anti-correlation: hemispheres with faster drift rates have shorter periods. These observations are consistent with an equatorward meridional counterflow, deep within the Sun, as the primary driver of the equatorward migration and the period associated with the sunspot cycle. We also find that the drift rate at maximum is significantly correlated with the amplitude of the following cycle, a prediction of dynamo models that employ a deep equatorward meridional flow. Our results indicate an amplitude of about 1.2 m/s for the meridional flow velocity at the base of the solar convection zone.


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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #3
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.