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    Space and planetary sciences


    Short-term variability of the Sun-Earth system: an overview of progress made during the CAWSES-II period

    Gopalswamy N, Tsurutani B, Yihua Y

    Solar activity, Space weather, Coronal mass ejections, Flares, Solar energetic particle events, Geospace impact, Geomagnetic storms

    Speed vs. width distributions of limb CMEs from cycles 23 and 24. Both cycles show a good correlation between speed and width, but the slopes are very different. The correlations coefficients (r) and the regression lines are given on the plot. Student’s t-test confirms that the slope difference is statistically significant. The data points at width=360o are halo CMEs, which are mostly from cycle 24.

    This paper presents an overview of results obtained during the CAWSES-II period on the short-term variability of the Sun and how it affects the near-Earth space environment. CAWSES-II was planned to examine the behavior of the solar-terrestrial system as the solar activity climbed to its maximum phase in solar cycle 24. After a deep minimum following cycle 23, the Sun climbed to a very weak maximum in terms of the sunspot number in cycle 24 (MiniMax24), so many of the results presented here refer to this weak activity in comparison with cycle 23. The short-term variability that has immediate consequence to Earth and geospace manifests as solar eruptions from closed-field regions and high-speed streams from coronal holes. Both electromagnetic (flares) and mass emissions (coronal mass ejections - CMEs) are involved in solar eruptions, while coronal holes result in high-speed streams that collide with slow wind forming the so-called corotating interaction regions (CIRs). Fast CMEs affect Earth via leading shocks accelerating energetic particles and creating large geomagnetic storms. CIRs and their trailing high-speed streams (HSSs), on the other hand, are responsible for recurrent small geomagnetic storms and extended days of auroral zone activity, respectively. The latter leads to the acceleration of relativistic magnetospheric ‘killer’ electrons. One of the major consequences of the weak solar activity is the altered physical state of the heliosphere that has serious implications for the shock-driving and storm-causing properties of CMEs. Finally, a discussion is presented on extreme space weather events prompted by the 23 July 2012 super storm event that occurred on the backside of the Sun. Many of these studies were enabled by the simultaneous availability of remote sensing and in situ observations from multiple vantage points with respect to the Sun-Earth line.