Predicting amplitude of solar cycle 24 based on a new precursor method
It is shown that the monthly smoothed sunspot number (SSN) or its rate of decrease during the final years of a solar cycle is correlated with the amplitude of the succeeding cycle. Based on this relationship, the amplitude of solar cycle 24 is predicted to be 84.5±23.9, assuming that the monthly smoothed SSN reached its minimum in December 2008. It is further shown that the monthly SSN in the three-year period from 2006 through 2008 is well correlated with the monthly average of the intensity of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). This correlation indicates that the SSN in the final years of a solar cycle is a good proxy for the IMF, which is understood to reflect the magnetic field in the corona of the sun, and the IMF is expected to be smallest at the solar minimum. We believe that this finding illuminates a physical meaning underlying the well-known precursor method for forecasting the amplitude of the next solar cycle using the aa index at the solar minimum or its average value in the decaying phase of the solar cycle (e.g. Ohl, 1966), since it is known that the geomagnetic disturbance depends strongly on the intensity of the IMF. That is, the old empirical method is considered to be based on the fact that the intensity of the coronal magnetic field decreases in the late phase of a solar cycle in parallel with the SSN. It seems that the precursor method proposed by Schatten et al. (1978) and Svalgaard et al. (2005), which uses the intensity of the polar magnetic field of the sun several years before a solar minimum, is also based on the same physical phenomenon, but seen from a different angle.