Solar-cycle variation of the rotational shear near the solar surface

A. Barekat, J. Schou, L. Gizon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context. Helioseismology has revealed that the angular velocity of the Sun increases with depth in the outermost 35 Mm of the Sun. Recently, we have shown that the logarithmic radial gradient (dlnΩ/dlnr) in the upper 10 Mm is close to -1 from the equator to 60° latitude. Aims. We aim to measure the temporal variation of the rotational shear over solar cycle 23 and the rising phase of cycle 24 (1996-2015). Methods. We used f mode frequency splitting data spanning 1996 to 2011 from the Michelson Doppler Imager (MDI) and 2010 to 2015 from the Helioseismic Magnetic Imager (HMI). In a first for such studies, the f mode frequency splitting data were obtained from 360-day time series. We used the same method as in our previous work for measuring dlnΩ/dlnr from the equator to 80° latitude in the outer 13 Mm of the Sun. Then, we calculated the variation of the gradient at annual cadence relative to the average over 1996 to 2015. Results. We found the rotational shear at low latitudes (0° to 30°) to vary in-phase with the solar activity, varying by ~± 10% over the period 1996 to 2015. At high latitudes (60° to 80°), we found rotational shear to vary in anti-phase with the solar activity. By comparing the radial gradient obtained from the splittings of the 360-day and the corresponding 72-day time series of HMI and MDI data, we suggest that the splittings obtained from the 72-day HMI time series suffer from systematic errors. Conclusions. We provide a quantitative measurement of the temporal variation of the outer part of the near surface shear layer which may provide useful constraints on dynamo models and differential rotation theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA8
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Sun: helioseismology
  • Sun: interior
  • Sun: rotation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Solar-cycle variation of the rotational shear near the solar surface'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this