Predicting the arrival of high-speed solar wind streams at Earth using the STEREO Heliospheric Imagers
Davis, C. J., Davies, J. A., Owens, M. and Lockwood, M. (2012) Predicting the arrival of high-speed solar wind streams at Earth using the STEREO Heliospheric Imagers. Space Weather, 10 (2). ISSN 1542-7390
To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2011SW000737
High-speed solar wind streams modify the Earth's geomagnetic environment, perturbing the ionosphere, modulating the flux of cosmic rays into the Earth atmosphere, and triggering substorms. Such activity can affect modern technological systems. To investigate the potential for predicting the arrival of such streams at Earth, images taken by the Heliospheric Imager (HI) on the STEREO-A spacecraft have been used to identify the onsets of high-speed solar wind streams from observations of regions of increased plasma concentrations associated with corotating interaction regions, or CIRs. In order to confirm that these transients were indeed associated with CIRs and to study their average properties, arrival times predicted from the HI images were used in a superposed epoch analysis to confirm their identity in near-Earth solar wind data obtained by the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft and to observe their influence on a number of salient geophysical parameters. The results are almost identical to those of a parallel superposed epoch analysis that used the onset times of the high-speed streams derived from east/west deflections in the ACE measurements of solar wind speed to predict the arrival of such streams at Earth, assuming they corotated with the Sun with a period of 27 days. Repeating the superposed epoch analysis using restricted data sets demonstrates that this technique can provide a timely prediction of the arrival of CIRs at least 1 day ahead of their arrival at Earth and that such advanced warning can be provided from a spacecraft placed 40° ahead of Earth in its orbit.