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LWS TR&T Focus Teams:

Predict the Onset and Space Weather Impacts of Fast CMEs/Eruptive Flares

Team Chair: Mark Linton
Team Research Plan:
Next Team Meeting: TBD
Team-Maintained Web Site: TBD
Team Publications: TBD
Team Members:
Zorin Mikic
Peter Schuck
Alysha Reinhard

Target Description: It is now widely accepted that the energy for the most destructive forms of space weather, including strong SEP events and major geomagnetic storms, resides in the strongly sheared magnetic field of an active region filament channel. This energy is often released explosively in the form of a fast coronal mass ejection (CME) and/or eruptive flare. Although we can predict where such events will originate, we cannot yet predict when they will occur and the magnitude of the resulting space weather. Consequently, the prediction of CME/flare onset and impact is one of the major objectives of the LWS program and is a prime focus for its missions.

There are two reasons why this problem is now ripe for a focused team attack. First, we will soon have unprecedented new data from the first LWS mission, SDO, which will deliver continuous high-resolution (spatial and temporal) observations of the vector magnetic field at the photosphere and of the resulting coronal dynamics. The combination of STEREO and SDO will allow us to measure the complete evolution of an explosive event, from its energy buildup at the Sun to its impacts at 1 AU. Second, we now have the capability to perform detailed 3D modeling of CMEs/flares for comparison with the observations. Given that the Sun is entering the rise to maximum, it is now time to address this outstanding problem of CME/flare onset and impact.

Goals and Measures of Success: The goal of this Focused Science Topic is to relate quantitatively solar structure and evolution to the onset of a CME/flare event and to the intensity of the space weather driven by this event. The prime measure of success for this work would be a substantial improvement in our ability to predict when a solar eruption leading to a CME will occur and to predict the evolution of the CME and its space weather consequences.

Types of investigations:

  • Studies of photospheric/chromospheric/coronal magnetic structure and evolution leading to CME/flare onset.
  • Development and testing of models (theoretical and empirical) that predict the onset, initial velocity and density, and internal magnetic field of CMEs.
  • Development and testing of models that predict the CME properties in interplanetary space to Earth, including the internal CME properties and the shock that is generated.
  • Assessment of the data required to predict the initiation of CMEs and their properties, including an assessment of the limitations of different data types, and the prioritization of data needed to predict CME initiation and properties.

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