The observed properties of small-scale solar magnetic fields are reviewed. Most of the magnetic flux in the photosphere is in the form of strong fields of about 100–200 mT (1–2 kG), which have remarkably similar properties regardless of whether they occur in active or quiet regions. These fields are associated with strong atmospheric heating. Flux concentrations decay at a rate of about 107 Wb s-1, independent of the amount of flux in the decaying structure. The decay occurs by smaller flux fragments breaking loose from the larger ones, i.e. a transfer of magnetic flux from smaller to larger Fourier wave numbers, into the wave-number regime where ohmic diffusion becomes significant. This takes place in a time-scale much shorter than the length of the solar cycle.
The field amplification occurs mainly below the solar surface, since very little magnetic flux appears in diffuse form in the photosphere, and the life-time of the smallest flux elements is very short. The observations further suggest that most of the magnetic flux in quiet regions is supplied directly from below the solar surface rather than being the result of turbulent diffusion of active-region magnetic fields.