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Extracting inner‐heliosphere solar wind speed information from Heliospheric Imager observations

Barnard, L. A. ORCID:, Owens, M. O. ORCID:, Scott, C. J. ORCID: and Jones, S. R. (2019) Extracting inner‐heliosphere solar wind speed information from Heliospheric Imager observations. Space Weather, 17 (6). pp. 925-938. ISSN 1542-7390

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/2019SW002226


We present evidence that variability in the STEREO‐A Heliospheric Imager (HI) data is correlated with in situ solar wind speed estimates from WIND, STEREO‐A, and STEREO‐B. For 2008–2012, we compute the variability in HI differenced images in a plane‐of‐sky shell between 20 to 22.5 solar radii and, for a range of position angles, compare daily means of HI variability and in situ solar wind speed estimates. We show that the HI variability data and in situ solar wind speeds have similar temporal autocorrelation functions. Carrington rotation periodicities are well documented for in situ solar wind speeds, but, to our knowledge, this is the first time they have been presented in statistics computed from HI images. In situ solar wind speeds from STEREO‐A, STEREO‐B, and WIND are all are correlated with the HI variability, with a lag that varies in a manner consistent with the longitudinal separation of the in situ monitor and the HI instrument. Unlike many approaches to processing HI observations, our method requires no manual feature tracking; it is automated, is quick to compute, and does not suffer the subjective biases associated with manual classifications. These results suggest we could possibly estimate solar wind speeds in the low heliosphere directly from HI observations. This motivates further investigation, as this could be a significant asset to the space weather forecasting community; it might provide an independent observational constraint on heliospheric solar wind forecasts, through, for example, data assimilation. Finally, these results are another argument for the potential utility of including a HI on an operational space weather mission.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:84475
Publisher:American Geophysical Union


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