, Volume 144, Issue 1-4, pp 401-412
Date: 16 Sep 2008

Solar Cycle Forecasting

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Predicting the behavior of a solar cycle after it is well underway (2–3 years after minimum) can be done with a fair degree of skill using auto-regression and curve fitting techniques that don’t require any knowledge of the physics involved. Predicting the amplitude of a solar cycle near, or before, the time of solar cycle minimum can be done using precursors such as geomagnetic activity and polar fields that do have some connection to the physics but the connections are uncertain and the precursors provide less reliable forecasts. Predictions for the amplitude of cycle 24 using these precursor techniques give drastically different values. Recently, dynamo models have been used directly with assimilated data to predict the amplitude of sunspot cycle 24 but have also given significantly different predictions. While others have questioned both the predictability of the solar cycle and the ability of current dynamo models to provide predictions, it is clear that cycle 24 will help to discriminate between some opposing dynamo models.