The second photo covers from about 2014 (SC24 maximum) to last month:
When the new solar cycle begins, the polarity strength of each hemisphere maxes, and then begins to decrease as the two hemispheres start to blend together.
The northern hemisphere appears to already have peaked and is decreasing, while the southern looks like it’s just beginning to drop.
Also helps explain why the new sunspot was in the northern hemisphere.
The average magnetic field strength peaked a bit higher than the beginning of last cycle’s, so hopefully this means a more active maximum. Though the amount of data we have compared to our star’s lifespan is basically zero, so it’s hard to tell.
Graphs courtesy of The Wilcox Solar Observatory.