Solar cycle changes in the geo-effectiveness of small-scale solar wind turbulence measured by Wind and ACE at 1 AU Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract. Multi-scale structure of the solar wind in the ecliptic at 1 AU undergoes significant evolution with the phase of the solar cycle. Wind spacecraft measurements during 1995 to 1998 and ACE spacecraft measurements during 1997 to 2005 were used to characterise the evolution of small-scale (~1 min to 2 h) fluctuations in the solar wind speed vsw, magnetic energy density B2, and solar wind ε parameter, in the context of large-scale (~1 day to years) variations. The large-scale variation in ε most resembled large-scale variations in B2. The probability density of large fluctuations in ε and B2 both had strong minima during 1995, a familiar signature of solar minimum. Generalized Structure Function (GSF) analysis was used to estimate inertial range scaling exponents aGSF and their evolution throughout 1995 to 2005. For the entire data set, the weighted average scaling exponent for small-scale fluctuations in vsw was aGSF=0.284±0.001, a value characteristic of intermittent MHD turbulence (>1/4), whereas the scaling exponents for corresponding fluctuations in B2 and ε were aGSF=0.395±0.001 and 0.334±0.001, respectively. These values are between the range expected for Gaussian fluctuations (1/2) and Kolmogorov turbulence (1/3). However, the scaling exponent for ε changed from a Gaussian-Kolmogorov value of 0.373±0.005 during 1997 (end of solar minimum) to an MHD turbulence value of 0.247±0.004 during 2003 (recurrent fast streams). Changes in the characteristics of solar wind turbulence may be reproducible from one solar cycle to the next.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007