Here, we analyze different sunspot group (SG) behaviors from the points of view of both the sunspot counts (SSCs) and the number of SGs, in four categories, for the time period of 1982 January-2014 May. These categories include data from simple (A and B), medium (C), large (D, E, and F), and decaying (H) SGs. We investigate temporal variations of all data sets used in this study and find the following results. (1) There is a very significant decrease in the large groups' SSCs and the number of SGs in solar cycle 24 (cycle 24) compared to cycles 21-23. (2) There is no strong variation in the decaying groups' data sets for the entire investigated time interval. (3) Medium group data show a gradual decrease for the last three cycles. (4) A significant decrease occurred in the small groups during solar cycle 23, while no strong changes show in the current cycle (cycle 24) compared to the previous ones. We confirm that the temporal behavior of all categories is quite different from cycle to cycle and it is especially flagrant in solar cycle 24. Thus, we argue that the reduced absolute number of the large SGs is largely, if not solely, responsible for the weak cycle 24. These results might be important for long-term space weather predictions to understand the rate of formation of different groups of sunspots during a solar cycle and the possible consequences for the long-term geomagnetic activity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science
- Sun: activity
- solar-terrestrial relations