Articles | Volume 23, issue 9
22 Nov 2005
 | 22 Nov 2005

Predicting the occurrence of super-storms

N. Srivastava

Abstract. A comparative study of five super-storms (Dst<-300 nT) of the current solar cycle after the launch of SoHO, to identify solar and interplanetary variables that influence the magnitude of resulting geomagnetic storms, is described. Amongst solar variables, the initial speed of a CME is considered the most reliable predictor of the strength of the associated geomagnetic storm because fast mass ejections are responsible for building up the ram pressure at the Earth's magnetosphere. However, although most of the super-storms studied were associated with high speed CMEs, the Dst index of the resulting geomagnetic storms varied between -300 to -472 nT. The most intense storm of 20 November 2003, (Dst ~ -472 nT) had its source in a comparatively smaller active region and was associated with a relatively weaker, M-class flare while all other super-storms had their origins in large active regions and were associated with strong X-class flares. However, this superstorm did not show any associated extraordinary solar and interplanetary characteristics. The study also reveals the challenge in the reliable prediction of the magnitude of a geomagnetic storm from solar and interplanetary variables.