Wind and ACE observations during the great flow of 1-4 May 1998: Relation to solar activity and implications for the magnetosphere

C. J. Farrugia, M. Popecki, E. Möbius, V. K. Jordanova, M. I. Desai, R. J. Fitzenreiter, K. W. Ogilvie, H. Matsui, S. Lepri, T. Zurbuchen, G. M. Mason, G. R. Lawrence, L. F. Burlaga, R. P. Lepping, J. R. Dwyer, D. McComas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Using magnetic field, plasma, and energetic particle data from Wind and ACE, we analyze interplanetary features associated with the first strongly geoeffective interval in the rising phase of solar cycle 23, which affected Earth on 1-4 May 1998. As shown by Skoug et al. [1999], the configuration consisted of a compound stream made up of an interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME) containing a magnetic cloud and being trailed by a hot, faster flow. In addition, we find that the front boundary of the ICME is a rotational discontinuity and the leading edge of the fast stream has a zero normal magnetic field component and is followed by a magnetic field which is strongly enhanced (by a factor of ~4) and whose fluctuations lie in a plane approximately parallel to the leading edge. Energetic particle and composition observations confirm that the field lines of the magnetic cloud were connected to at least two different flare sites in the same active region. We infer a lower limit for the size of the solar footprint of the connected flux tube of 0.02 Rs, i.e., ∼1010 km2. A dramatic weakening of the halo electron distribution occurred during 3 May at the time when other experimenters have documented the presence of prominence material. We hypothesize that the solar wind halo population was scattered by enhanced frequency of Coulomb collisions in the dense and very cold plasma. We discuss our energetic particle observations in terms of local acceleration at interplanetary shocks and field discontinuities as well as in terms of acceleration in flares and CME-driven shocks. We also compare, in a specific formulation, the power and energy input of the May 1998 configuration to the magnetosphere with other much studied geoeffective events. We find that the power input far exceeded that in all previous geoeffective events in our sample and attribute this to the fact that the 1-4 May 1998 event consisted of a compound stream structure with an unprecedented power input during a ∼3-hour burst of high-speed flow on 4 May. A statistical survey using the OMNI database for the 6-year period 1995-2000 confirms these inferences and indicates further approximate saturation levels for energy and power input of 10 J m-2 and 0.3 mW m -2, only exceeded in exceptional events such as May 1998 and July 2000. The solar energetic particle event at the leading edge of the fast stream might be the only advance warning the Earth would receive of the approach of a configuration of such a concentrated geoeffective potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1240
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberA9
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Composition
  • Magnetic clouds
  • Size of solar footprint of connected flux rope
  • Solar energetic particles
  • Space weather


Dive into the research topics of 'Wind and ACE observations during the great flow of 1-4 May 1998: Relation to solar activity and implications for the magnetosphere'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this