On the probability of occurrence of extreme space weather events
Abstract
By virtue of their rarity, extreme space weather events, such as the Carrington event of 1859, are difficult to study, their rates of occurrence are difficult to estimate, and prediction of a specific future event is virtually impossible. Additionally, events may be extreme relative to one parameter but normal relative to others. In this study, we analyze several measures of the severity of space weather events (flare intensity, coronal mass ejection speeds, Dst, and >30 MeV proton fluences as inferred from nitrate records) to estimate the probability of occurrence of extreme events. By showing that the frequency of occurrence scales as an inverse power of the severity of the event, and assuming that this relationship holds at higher magnitudes, we are able to estimate the probability that an event larger than some criteria will occur within a certain interval of time in the future. For example, the probability of another Carrington event (based on Dst < 850 nT) occurring within the next decade is ̃12%. We also identify and address several limitations with this approach. In particular, we assume time stationarity, and thus, the effects of longterm space climate change are not considered. While this technique cannot be used to predict specific events, it may ultimately be useful for probabilistic forecasting.
 Publication:

Space Weather
 Pub Date:
 February 2012
 DOI:
 10.1029/2011SW000734
 Bibcode:
 2012SpWea..10.2012R
 Keywords:

 space weather