The use of various interplanetary scintillation indices within geomagnetic forecasts
Abstract. Interplanetary scintillation (IPS), the twinkling of small angular diameter radio sources, is caused by the interaction of the signal with small-scale plasma irregularities in the solar wind. The technique may be used to sense remotely the near-Earth heliosphere and observations of a sufficiently large number of sources may be used to track large-scale disturbances as they propagate from close to the Sun to the Earth. Therefore, such observations have potential for use within geomagnetic forecasts. We use daily data from the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, made available through the World Data Centre, to test the success of geomagnetic forecasts based on IPS observations. The approach discussed here was based on the reduction of the information in a map to a single number or series of numbers. The advantages of an index of this nature are that it may be produced routinely and that it could ideally forecast both the occurrence and intensity of geomagnetic activity. We start from an index that has already been described in the literature, INDEX35. On the basis of visual examination of the data in a full skymap format modifications were made to the way in which the index was calculated. It was hoped that these would lead to an improvement in its forecasting ability. Here we assess the forecasting potential of the index using the value of the correlation coefficient between daily Ap and the IPS index, with IPS leading by 1 day. We also compare the forecast based on the IPS index with forecasts of Ap currently released by the Space Environment Services Center (SESC). Although we find that the maximum improvement achieved is small, and does not represent a significant advance in forecasting ability, the IPS forecasts at this phase of the solar cycle are of a similar quality to those made by SESC.