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. ?? Author(s) 2011.
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Secular trends in storm-level geomagnetic activity