Articles | Volume 27, issue 8
14 Aug 2009
 | 14 Aug 2009

Changes in the response of the AL Index with solar cycle and epoch within a corotating interaction region

R. L. McPherron, L. Kepko, T. I. Pulkkinen, T. S. Hsu, J. W. Weygand, and L. F. Bargatze

Abstract. We use observations in the solar wind and on the ground to study the interaction of the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field with Earth's magnetosphere. We find that the type of response depends on the state of the solar wind. Coupling functions change as the properties of the solar wind change. We examine this behavior quantitatively with time dependent linear prediction filters. These filters are determined from ensemble arrays of representative events organized by some characteristic time in the event time series. In our study we have chosen the stream interface at the center of a corotating interaction region as the reference time. To carry out our analysis we have identified 394 stream interfaces in the years 1995–2007. For each interface we have selected ten-day intervals centered on the interface and placed data for the interval in rows of an ensemble array. In this study we use Es the rectified dawn-dusk electric field in gsm coordinates as input and the AL index as output. A selection window of width one day is stepped across the ensemble and for each of the nine available windows all events in a given year (~30) are used to calculate a system impulse response function. A change in the properties of the system as a consequence of changes in the solar wind relative to the reference time will appear as a change in the shape and/or the area of the response function. The analysis shows that typically only 45% of the AL variance is predictable in this manner when filters are constructed from a full year of data. We find that the weakest coupling occurs around the stream interface and the strongest well away from the interface. The interface is the time of peak dynamic pressure and strength of the electric field. We also find that coupling appears to be stronger during recurrent high-speed streams in the declining phase of the solar cycle than it is around solar maximum. These results are consistent with the previous report that both strong driving (Es) and high dynamic pressure (Pdyn) reduce the coupling efficiency. Although the changes appear to be statistically significant their physical cause cannot be uniquely identified because various properties of the solar wind vary systematically through a corotating interaction region. It is also possible that the quality of the propagated solar wind data depends on the state of the solar wind. Finally it is likely that the quality of the AL index during the last solar cycle may affect the results. Despite these limitations our results indicate that the Es-AL coupling function is 50% stronger outside a corotating interaction region than inside.