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ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: Balachandran, R., Chen, L.-J., Wang, S. and Fok, M.-C. (2021). Correlating the interplanetary factors to distinguish extreme and major geomagnetic storms. Earth Planet. Phys., 5(2), 180–186.

2021, 5(2): 180-186. doi: 10.26464/epp2021015


Correlating the interplanetary factors to distinguish extreme and major geomagnetic storms


Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA


NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20770, USA


Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA

Corresponding author: Li-Jen Chen,

Received Date: 2020-08-04
Web Publishing Date: 2021-01-19

We investigate the correlation between Disturbance Storm Time (Dst) characteristics and solar wind conditions for the main phase of geomagnetic storms, seeking possible factors that distinguish extreme storms (minimum Dst <−250 nT) and major storms (minimum Dst <−100 nT). In our analysis of 170 storms, there is a marked correlation between the average rate of change of Dst during a storm’s main phase (ΔDstt) and the storm’s minimum Dst, indicating a faster ΔDstt as storm intensity increases. Extreme events add a new regime to ΔDstt, the hourly time derivative of Dst (dDst/dt), and sustained periods of large amplitudes for southward interplanetary magnetic field Bz and solar wind convection electric field Ey. We find that Ey is a less efficient driver of dDst/dt for extreme storms compared to major storms, even after incorporating the effects of solar wind pressure and ring current decay. When minimum Dst is correlated with minimum Bz, we observe a similar divergence, with extreme storms tending to have more negative Dst than the trend predicted on the basis of major storms. Our results enable further improvements in existing models for storm predictions, including extreme events, based on interplanetary measurements.

Key words: extreme geomagnetic storm, Dst prediction, solar wind driving, major storms

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Correlating the interplanetary factors to distinguish extreme and major geomagnetic storms

Ragini Balachandran, Li-Jen Chen, Shan Wang, Mei-Ching Fok