Solar Physics

, Volume 239, Issue 1–2, pp 449–460 | Cite as

Relationships Among Magnetic Clouds, CMES, and Geomagnetic Storms

  • C. C. WuEmail author
  • R. P. Lepping
  • N. Gopalswamy


During solar cycle 23, 82 interplanetary magnetic clouds (MCs) were identified by the Magnetic Field Investigation (MFI) team using Wind (1995 – 2003) solar wind plasma and magnetic field data from solar minimum through the maximum of cycle 23. The average occurrence rate is 9.5 MCs per year for the overall period. It is found that some of the anomalies in the frequency of occurrence were during the early part of solar cycle 23: (i) only four MCs were observed in 1999, and (ii) an unusually large number of MCs (17 events) were observed in 1997, just after solar minimum. We also discuss the relationship between MCs, coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and geomagnetic storms. During the period 1996 – 2003, almost 8000 CMEs were observed by SOHO-LASCO. The occurrence frequency of MCs appears to be related neither to the occurrence of CMEs as observed by SOHO LASCO nor to the sunspot number. When we included “magnetic cloud-like structures” (MCLs, defined by Lepping, Wu, and Berdichevsky, 2005), we found that the occurrence of the joint set (MCs + MCLs) is correlated with both sunspot number and the occurrence rate of CMEs. The average duration of the MCL structures is ~40% shorter than that of the MCs. The MCs are typically more geoeffective than the MCLs, because the average southward field component is generally stronger and longer lasting in MCs than in MCLs. In addition, most severe storms caused by MCs/MCLs with Dst min≤ −100 nT occurred in the active solar period.


Solar Cycle Coronal Mass Ejection Sunspot Number Geomagnetic Storm Magnetic Cloud 
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© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSPARUniversity of AlabamaHuntsvilleU.S.A.
  2. 2.Laboratory for Space WeatherChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingP.R. China
  3. 3.Heliophysics Science DivisionNASA/GSFCGreenbeltU.S.A.
  4. 4.Solar System Exploration DivisionNASA/GSFCGreenbeltU.S.A.

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