Secular trends in storm-level geomagnetic activity
- Geomagnetism Program, US Geological Survey, Denver, CO, USA
Abstract. Analysis is made of K-index data from groups of ground-based geomagnetic observatories in Germany, Britain, and Australia, 1868.0–2009.0, solar cycles 11–23. Methods include nonparametric measures of trends and statistical significance used by the hydrological and climatological research communities. Among the three observatory groups, German K data systematically record the highest disturbance levels, followed by the British and, then, the Australian data. Signals consistently seen in K data from all three observatory groups can be reasonably interpreted as physically meaninginful: (1) geomagnetic activity has generally increased over the past 141 years. However, the detailed secular evolution of geomagnetic activity is not well characterized by either a linear trend nor, even, a monotonic trend. Therefore, simple, phenomenological extrapolations of past trends in solar and geomagnetic activity levels are unlikely to be useful for making quantitative predictions of future trends lasting longer than a solar cycle or so. (2) The well-known tendency for magnetic storms to occur during the declining phase of a sunspot-solar cycles is clearly seen for cycles 14–23; it is not, however, clearly seen for cycles 11–13. Therefore, in addition to an increase in geomagnetic activity, the nature of solar-terrestrial interaction has also apparently changed over the past 141 years.