Solar Physics

, Volume 274, Issue 1–2, pp 427–437 | Cite as

Impact of CIR Storms on Thermosphere Density Variability during the Solar Minimum of 2008

  • Jiuhou Lei
  • Jeffrey P. Thayer
  • Wenbin Wang
  • Robert L. McPherron
The Sun–Earth Connection near Solar Minimum


The solar minimum of 2008 was exceptionally quiet, with sunspot numbers at their lowest in 75 years. During this unique solar-minimum epoch, however, solar-wind high-speed streams emanating from near-equatorial coronal holes occurred frequently and were the primary contributor to the recurrent geomagnetic activity at Earth. These conditions enabled the isolation of forcing by geomagnetic activity on the preconditioned solar minimum state of the upper atmosphere caused by Corotating Interaction Regions (CIRs). Thermosphere density observations around 400 km from the CHAMP satellite are used to study the thermosphere density response to solar-wind high-speed streams/CIRs. Superposed epoch results show that the thermosphere density responds to high-speed streams globally, and the density at 400 km changes by 75% on average. The relative changes of neutral density are comparable at different latitudes, although its variability is largest at high latitudes. In addition, the response of thermosphere density to high-speed streams is larger at night than in daytime, indicating the preconditioning effect of the thermosphere response to storms. Finally, the thermosphere density variations at the periods of 9 and 13.5 days associated with CIRs are linked to the spatial distribution of low – middle latitude coronal holes on the basis of the EUVI observations from STEREO.


Thermosphere density CIR Coronal holes Solar minimum 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiuhou Lei
    • 1
  • Jeffrey P. Thayer
    • 1
  • Wenbin Wang
    • 2
  • Robert L. McPherron
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Aerospace Engineering SciencesUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.High Altitude ObservatoryNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Institute Geophysics and Planetary PhysicsUniversity of California Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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