October 14, 2014

Predicting interplanetary shock arrivals at Earth, Mars, and Venus: A real-time modeling experiment following the solar flares of 5-14 December 2006

McKenna-Lawlor, S. M. P.; Dryer, M.; Fry, C. D.; Smith, Z. K.; Intriligator, D. S.; Courtney, W. R.; Deehr, C. S.; Sun, W.; Kecskemety, K.; Kudela, K.; Balaz, J.; Barabash, S.; Futaana, Y.; Yamauchi, M.; Lundin, R.
Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, Issue A6, CiteID A06101

Summary: A 3-D, kinematic, solar wind model (Hakamada-Akasofu-Fry version 2 (HAFv.2)) is used to predict interplanetary shock arrivals at Venus, Earth, and Mars during a sequence of significant solar events that occurred in the interval 5-14 December 2006. Mars and Venus were on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth during this period. The shocks from the first two east limb events (5 and 6 December) were predicted to interact to form a single disturbance before reaching Earth and Venus. A single shock was indeed recorded at Earth only about 3 h earlier than had been predicted. The composite shock was predicted by HAFv.2 to arrive at Venus on 8 December at ~0500 UT. Solar energetic particles (SEPs) were detected in Venus Express Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms-4 data for some 3 d (from <0530 UT on 6 December), and an energetic storm particle (ESP) event signaled the arrival of a single shock wave at 0900 UT on 7 December. SEPs were correspondingly recorded at Mars. However, the eastern flank of the composite shock was predicted to decay to an MHD wave prior to reaching this location, and no shock signature was observed in the available data. The shocks generated in association with two flare events that occurred closer to the West Limb on 13 and 14 December were predicted by HAFv.2 to remain separate when they arrived at Earth but to combine thereafter before reaching Mars. Each was expected to decay to MHD waves before reaching Venus, which was at that time located behind the Sun. Separated shocks were observed to arrive at L1 (ACE) only 8 min earlier than and 5.3 h later than their predicted times. The western flank of the combined shocks was predicted to arrive at Mars early on 20 December 2006. An indication of the passage of this shock was provided by a signature of ion heating in Mars Express IMA (ion mass-resolving analyzer) data from <0424 UT on 20 December. The predictions of the HAFv.2 model for Earth were each well within the ±11 h. RMS error earlier found, on the basis of significant statistics, to apply at 1 AU during the rise and maximum phases of solar cycle 23. Overall, the model is demonstrated to be capable of predicting the effects produced by shocks and by the background solar wind at Venus, Earth, and Mars. It is suggested that the continuous presence of solar wind monitors (plasma and interplanetary magnetic field observations) at "benchmark planets" can constitute a necessary and valuable component of ongoing and future space weather programs for the validation of solar wind models such as HAFv.2.