Arrival times of Flare/Halo CME associated shocks at the Earth: Comparison of the predictions of three numerical models with these observations

S. M.P. McKenna-Lawlor, M. Dryer, Z. Smith, K. Kecskemety, C. D. Fry, W. Sun, C. S. Deehr, D. Berdichevsky, K. Kudela, G. Zastenker

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The arrival times at L1 of eleven travelling shocks associated both with X-ray flaring and with halo CMEs recorded aboard SOHO/LASCO have been considered. Close to the Sun the velocities of these events were estimated using either Type II radio records or CME speeds. Close to the Earth the shocks were detected in the data of various solar wind plasma, interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) and energetic particle experiments aboard SOHO, ACE, WIND, INTERBALL-1 and IMP-8. The real-time shock arrival predictions of three numerical models, namely the Shock Time of Arrival Model (STOA), the Interplanetary Shock Propagation Model (ISPM) and the Hakamada-Akasofu-Fry Solar Wind Model (HAFv.2) were tested against these observations. This is the first time that energetic protons (tens of keV to a few MeV) have been used to complement plasma and IMF data in validating shock propagation models. The models were all generally successful in predicting shock arrivals. STOA provided the smallest values of the "predicted minus measured" arrival times and displayed a typical predictive precision better than about 8 h. The ratio of the calculated standard deviation of the transit times to Earth to the standard deviation of the measurements was estimated for each model (treating interacting events as composite shocks) and these ratios turned out to be 0.60, 1.15 and 1.02 for STOA, ISPM and HAFv.2, respectively. If an event in the sample for which the shock velocity was not well known is omitted from consideration, these ratios become 0.36, 0.76 and 0.81, respectively. Larger statistical samples should now be tested. The ratio of the in situ shock velocity and the "Sun to L1" transit velocity (Vsh/Vtr) was in the range of 0.7-0.9 for individual, non-interacting, shock events. HAFv.2 uniquely provided information on those changes in the COBpoint (the moving Connection point on the shock along the IMF to the OBserver) which directly influenced energetic particle rise times. This model also illustrated the non-uniform upstream conditions through which the various shocks propagated; furthermore it simulated shock deformation on a scale of fractions of an AU. On the spatial scale (300 RE), where near-Earth space-craft are located, the passing shocks, in conformity with the models, were found to be locally planar. The shocks also showed tilting relative to the Sun-Earth line, probably reflecting the inherent directionality associated with their solar origin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-935
Number of pages19
JournalAnnales Geophysicae
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2002



  • Interplanetary physics (energetic particles; interplanetary shocks; solar wind plasma)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

McKenna-Lawlor, S. M. P., Dryer, M., Smith, Z., Kecskemety, K., Fry, C. D., Sun, W., Deehr, C. S., Berdichevsky, D., Kudela, K., & Zastenker, G. (2002). Arrival times of Flare/Halo CME associated shocks at the Earth: Comparison of the predictions of three numerical models with these observations. Annales Geophysicae, 20(7), 917-935.