We review the surface flux transport model for the evolution of magnetic flux patterns on the Sun’s surface. Our underlying motivation is to understand the model’s prediction of the polar field (or axial dipole) strength at the end of the solar cycle. The main focus is on the “classical” model: namely, steady axisymmetric profiles for differential rotation and meridional flow, and uniform supergranular diffusion. Nevertheless, the review concentrates on recent advances, notably in understanding the roles of transport parameters and – in particular – the source term. We also discuss the physical justification for the surface flux transport model, along with efforts to incorporate radial diffusion, and conclude by summarizing the main directions where researchers have moved beyond the classical model.
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