The Sunspot Number and beyond : reconstructing detailed solar information over centuries

Monday, 15 December 2014
Laure Lefevre, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
With four centuries of solar evolution, the International Sunspot Number (SSN) forms the longest solar time series currently available. It provides an essential reference for understanding and quantifying how the solar output has varied over decades and centuries and thus for assessing the variations of the main natural forcing on the Earth climate.

Because of its importance, this unique time-series must be closely monitored for any possible biases and drifts. Here, we report about recent disagreements between solar indices, for example the sunspot sumber and the 10.7cm radio flux. Recent analyses indicate that while part of this divergence may be due to a calibration drift in the SSN, it also results from an intrinsic change in the global magnetic parameters of sunspots and solar active regions, suggesting a possible transition to a new activity regime.

Going beyond the SSN series, in the framework of the TOSCA ( and SOLID ( projects, we produced a survey of all existing catalogs providing detailed sunspot information (Lefevre & Clette, 2014:10.1007/s11207-012-0184-5) and we also located different primary solar images and drawing collections that can be exploitable to complement the existing catalogs. These are first steps towards the construction of a multi-parametric time series of multiple sunspot and sunspot group properties over more than a century, allowing to reconstruct and extend the current 1-D SSN series. By bringing new spatial, morphological and evolutionary information, such a data set should bring major advances for the modeling of the solar dynamo and solar irradiance. We will present here the current status of this work. The preliminary version catalog now extends over the last 150 years. It makes use of data from DPD (, from the Uccle Solar Equatorial Table (USET: operated by the Royal Obeservatory of Belgium, the Greenwich Catalog (RGO: as well as the Kodaikanal white light data.