6.2 Solar Atmosphere to Earth's Surface: Long Lead Time dB/dt Predictions with the Space Weather Modeling Framework

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 8:45 AM
Salon J (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
Daniel T. Welling, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; and W. Manchester, N. P. Savani, M. Jin, I. Sokolov, B. Van der Holst, G. Toth, M. Liemohn, and T. Gombosi

Predicting ground-based magnetic perturbations is a critical step towards specifying and predicting geomagnetically induced currents (GICs) in high voltage transmission lines. The current state-of-the-art approach requires observations of solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) from L1 orbit to drive space weather models. While this approach can provide skilled forecasts of magnetic perturbations and associated dB/dt, it is limited to tens of minutes of lead time, contingent on solar wind velocity and execution time of the model. The future of space weather prediction clearly depends on the community’s ability to predict L1 values from observations of the solar atmosphere, which can yield hours of lead time. While both empirical and physics-based L1 forecast methods exist, it is not yet known if this nascent capability can translate to skilled dB/dt forecasts at the Earth’s surface.

This paper shows results for the first forecast-quality, solar-atmosphere-to-Earth’s-surface dB/dt predictions. Two methods are used to predict solar wind and IMF conditions at L1 for several real-world coronal mass ejection events. The first method is an empirical and observationally based system to estimate the plasma characteristics. The magnetic field predictions are based on the Bz4Cast system which assumes that the CME has a cylindrical flux rope geometry locally around Earth’s trajectory. The remaining plasma parameters of density, temperature and velocity are estimated from white-light coronagraphs via a variety of triangulation methods and forward based modelling. The second is a first-principles-based approach that combines the Eruptive Event Generator using Gibson-Low configuration (EEGGL) model with the Alfven Wave Solar Model (AWSoM). EEGGL specifies parameters for the Gibson-Low flux rope such that it erupts, driving a CME in the coronal model that reproduces coronagraph observations and propagates to 1AU. The resulting solar wind predictions are used to drive the operational Space Weather Modeling Framework (SWMF) for geospace. Following the configuration used by NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, this setup couples the BATS-R-US global magnetohydromagnetic model to the Rice Convection Model (RCM) ring current model and a height-integrated ionosphere electrodynamics model. The long lead time predictions of dB/dt are compared to model results that are driven by L1 solar wind observations. Both are compared to real-world observations from surface magnetometers at a variety of geomagnetic latitudes. Metrics are calculated to examine how the simulated solar wind drivers impact forecast skill. These results illustrate the current state of long-lead-time forecasting and the promise of this technology for operational use.

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