An analysis of sources and predictability of geomagnetic storms

Uwamahoro, Jean (2011) An analysis of sources and predictability of geomagnetic storms. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.




Solar transient eruptions are the main cause of interplanetary-magnetospheric disturbances leading to the phenomena known as geomagnetic storms. Eruptive solar events such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are currently considered the main cause of geomagnetic storms (GMS). GMS are strong perturbations of the Earth’s magnetic field that can affect space-borne and ground-based technological systems. The solar-terrestrial impact on modern technological systems is commonly known as Space Weather. Part of the research study described in this thesis was to investigate and establish a relationship between GMS (periods with Dst ≤ −50 nT) and their associated solar and interplanetary (IP) properties during solar cycle (SC) 23. Solar and IP geoeffective properties associated with or without CMEs were investigated and used to qualitatively characterise both intense and moderate storms. The results of this analysis specifically provide an estimate of the main sources of GMS during an average 11-year solar activity period. This study indicates that during SC 23, the majority of intense GMS (83%) were associated with CMEs, while the non-associated CME storms were dominant among moderate storms. GMS phenomena are the result of a complex and non-linear chaotic system involving the Sun, the IP medium, the magnetosphere and ionosphere, which make the prediction of these phenomena challenging. This thesis also explored the predictability of both the occurrence and strength of GMS. Due to their nonlinear driving mechanisms, the prediction of GMS was attempted by the use of neural network (NN) techniques, known for their non-linear modelling capabilities. To predict the occurrence of storms, a combination of solar and IP parameters were used as inputs in the NN model that proved to predict the occurrence of GMS with a probability of 87%. Using the solar wind (SW) and IP magnetic field (IMF) parameters, a separate NN-based model was developed to predict the storm-time strength as measured by the global Dst and ap geomagnetic indices, as well as by the locally measured K-index. The performance of the models was tested on data sets which were not part of the NN training process. The results obtained indicate that NN models provide a reliable alternative method for empirically predicting the occurrence and strength of GMS on the basis of solar and IP parameters. The demonstrated ability to predict the geoeffectiveness of solar and IP transient events is a key step in the goal towards improving space weather modelling and prediction.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ionospheric storms, Solar flares, Interplanetary magnetic fields, Magnetospheric substorms, Coronal mass ejections, Space environment, Neural networks
Subjects:Q Science > QC Physics > Geomagnetism
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Physics & Electronics
Supervisors:McKinnell, Lee-Anne
ID Code:2903
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:31 May 2012 07:35
Last Modified:31 May 2012 07:35
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