Response of High Latitude Birkeland Currents and Ionospheric Convection to Transitions in Solar Wind Forcing
Monday, 15 December 2014: 9:15 AM
Recent results from the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE) indicate that at least some transitions from northward to southward IMF produce a specific sequence in the development of large-scale Birkeland currents. First, a set of Region 1 and Region 2 currents forms on the dayside restricted to within a few hours of noon. After about 40 minutes, currents strongly intensify on the nightside, first near midnight local time associated with substorm onset, and then progressively further toward the dayside via dawn and dusk. Only after an hour or more after the transition to stronger solar wind forcing, is the complete Region 1, Region 2 current system developed. The results imply that the initial response to a transition from weak to strong forcing is convection into the polar cap and lobes without strong return convection to the dayside from the nightside magnetosphere. Return convection from the nightside begins with substorm onset and progresses to the dayside. This analysis is extended by examining a large number of transitions from prolonged auroral quiescence, associated with northward IMF, to southward IMF and the development of large-scale Region 1/Region 2 Birkeland currents, to assess whether the above progression holds in general. In addition, transition events to particularly intense driving, for example, associated with shocks are examined to assess how this ordering of events may be changed for onsets of particularly intense solar wind forcing.