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Differences between the CME fronts tracked by an expert, an automated algorithm, and the Solar Stormwatch project

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Barnard, L., Scott, C.J., Owens, M., Lockwood, M., Crothers, S. R., Davies, J. A. and Harrison, R. A. (2015) Differences between the CME fronts tracked by an expert, an automated algorithm, and the Solar Stormwatch project. Space Weather, 13 (10). pp. 709-725. ISSN 1542-7390

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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/2015SW001280

Abstract/Summary

Observations from the Heliospheric Imager (HI) instruments aboard the twin STEREO spacecraft have enabled the compilation of several catalogues of coronal mass ejections (CMEs), each characterizing the propagation of CMEs through the inner heliosphere. Three such catalogues are the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL)-HI event list, the Solar Stormwatch CME catalogue, and, presented here, the J-tracker catalogue. Each catalogue uses a different method to characterize the location of CME fronts in the HI images: manual identification by an expert, the statistical reduction of the manual identifications of many citizen scientists, and an automated algorithm. We provide a quantitative comparison of the differences between these catalogues and techniques, using 51 CMEs common to each catalogue. The time-elongation profiles of these CME fronts are compared, as are the estimates of the CME kinematics derived from application of three widely used single-spacecraft-fitting techniques. The J-tracker and RAL-HI profiles are most similar, while the Solar Stormwatch profiles display a small systematic offset. Evidence is presented that these differences arise because the RAL-HI and J-tracker profiles follow the sunward edge of CME density enhancements, while Solar Stormwatch profiles track closer to the antisunward (leading) edge. We demonstrate that the method used to produce the time-elongation profile typically introduces more variability into the kinematic estimates than differences between the various single-spacecraft-fitting techniques. This has implications for the repeatability and robustness of these types of analyses, arguably especially so in the context of space weather forecasting, where it could make the results strongly dependent on the methods used by the forecaster.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:45536
Publisher:American Geophysical Union

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