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Plasma and magnetic field parameter variations across fast forward interplanetary shocks are analyzed during the last solar cycle minimum (1995–1996, 15 shocks), and maximum year 2000 (50 shocks). It was observed that the solar wind velocity and magnetic field strength variation across the shocks were the parameters better correlated with Dst. Superposed epoch analysis centered on the shock showed that, during solar minimum, Bz profiles had a southward, long-duration variation superposed with fluctuations, whereas in solar maximum the Bz profile presented 2 peaks. The first peak occurred 4 hr after the shock, and seems to be associated with the magnetic field disturbed by the shock in the sheath region. The second peak occurred 19 hr after the shock, and seems to be associated with the ejecta fields. The difference in shape and peak in solar maximum (Dst peak = −50 nT, moderate activity) and minimum (Dst peak = −30 nT, weak activity) in average Dst profiles after shocks are, probably, a consequence of the energy injection in the magnetosphere being driven by different interplanetary southward magnetic structures. A statistical distribution of geomagnetic activity levels following interplanetary shocks was also obtained. It was observed that during solar maximum, 36% of interplanetary shocks were followed by intense (Dst ≤ −100 nT) and 28% by moderate (−50 ≤ Dst < −100 nT) geomagnetic activity. During solar minimum, 13% and 33% of the shocks were followed by intense and moderate geomagnetic activity, respectively. Thus, during solar maximum a higher relative number of interplanetary shocks might be followed by intense geomagnetic activity than during solar minimum. One can extrapolate, for forecasting goals, that during a whole solar cycle a shock has a probability of around 50–60% to be followed by intense/moderate geomagnetic activity.

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