Multiscale Magnetosphere‐Ionosphere Coupling During Stormtime: A Case Study of the Dawnside Current Wedge

Academic Article


  • AbstractA characteristic feature of the main phase of geomagnetic storms is the dawn‐dusk asymmetric depression of low‐ and mid‐latitude ground magnetic fields, with largest depression in the dusk sector. Recent work has shown, using data taken from hundreds of storms, that this dawn‐dusk asymmetry is strongly correlated with enhancements of the dawnside westward electrojet and this has been interpreted as a “dawnside current wedge” (DCW). Its ubiquity suggests it is an important aspect of stormtime magnetosphere‐ionosphere (MI) coupling. In this work we simulate a moderate geomagnetic storm to investigate the mechanisms that give rise to the formation of the DCW. Using synthetic SuperMAG indices we show that the model reproduces the observed phenomenology of the DCW, namely the correlation between asymmetry in the low‐latitude ground perturbation and the dawnside high‐latitude ground perturbation. We further show that these periods are characterized by the penetration of mesoscale bursty bulk flows (BBFs) into the dawnside inner magnetosphere. In the context of this event we find that the development of the asymmetric ring current, which inflates the dusk‐side magnetotail, leads to asymmetric reconnection and dawnward‐biased flow bursts. This results in an eastward expansion and multiscale enhancement of the dawnside electrojet. The electrojet enhancement extends across the dawn quadrant with localized enhancements associated with the wedgelet current systems of the penetrating BBFs. Finally, we connect this work with recent studies that have shown rapid, localized ground variability on the dawnside which can lead to hazardous geomagnetically induced currents.
  • Authors

  • Sorathia, KA
  • Michael, A
  • Merkin, VG
  • Ohtani, S
  • Keesee, Amy
  • Sciola, A
  • Lin, D
  • Garretson, J
  • Ukhorskiy, AY
  • Bao, S
  • Roedig, CB
  • Pulkkinen, A
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2023
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)


  • 128
  • Issue

  • 11