Solar Intern Program Project:
 Title: What Makes the Solar Cycle Tick? Improving prediction through a better Understanding the Evolution of the Polar Magnetic Flux.

Type of Project: Simulation

Skills/Interest Required: Interest in solar cycle simulations and the improvement of solar cycle predictions. Good proficiency with Matlab and experience programming in a low-level language (like Fortran or C) are necessary. One of the mentors will be local and one will be largely available via Skype telecons. The interested student needs to feel comfortable with this arrangement.

Mentor: Dr. Andres Munoz-Jaramillo and Dr. Ed DeLuca



The solar cycle and its associated magnetic activity are the main drivers behind changes in the interplanetary environment and the Earth's upper atmosphere (commonly referred to as space weather). These changes have a direct impact on the lifetime of space-based assets and can create hazards to astronauts in space. In recent years there has been an effort to develop accurate solar cycle predictions (with aims at predicting the long-term evolution of space weather), with a wide range of studies pointing at the crucial role of the solar polar fields during solar minimum as the seed of the solar cycle. So far, cycle predictions have focused on solar maximum conditions; however, the factors determining conditions are solar minimum are still poorly understood.


In this project, the student will perform simulations of the solar magnetic field using different distributions of sunspots and model parameters as inputs. He/she will learn about the evolution of the solar cycle and will help determine the different factors which determine the strength of the polar flux at solar minimum. This will pave the way for a new generation of better and more effective cycle predictions.


Figure: (Left) Snapshot of the simulated solar magnetic field at the beginning of the cycle. (Right) Evolution of the simulated solar magnetic at the solar surface showing the emergence of sunspots and decay of their associated magnetic field; leading to the accumulation of flux inside the polar crowns.


Section Photo