Articles | Volume 18, issue 8
31 Aug 2000
31 Aug 2000

Observations of ionospheric flows and particle precipitation following a Sudden Commencement

E. Nielsen and F. Honary

Abstract. On May 4, 1998, at 0227 UT an interplanetary shock crossed the WIND spacecraft, and half an hour later a Sudden Commencement occurred. Coinciding with the Sudden Commencement a rapid intensification of the flux of particle precipitation into the ionosphere was observed. Evidence is presented that the ionospheric electric fields were influenced by the associated dynamic variations of the ionospheric conductivities. Following the initial phase the ionospheric flow speeds increased rapidly over the next 20 min to more than 2000 m/s, in agreement with an increased effective coupling of the solar wind energy to the magnetosphere following the interplanetary shock that caused the Sudden Commencement. These strong flows were meandering in latitude, a type of plasma flow modulation that has been reported before to occur during Omega band events: a string of alternating field-aligned currents propagating eastward. The riometer absorption was found to be at a minimum in regions associated with outward directed field aligned currents. The riometer absorption regions (the regions of particle precipitation) were drifting 
with E × B drift speed of the ionospheric electrons.

Key words: Interplanetary physics (interplanetary shocks) - Ionosphere (electric fields and currents) - Magnetospheric physics (energetic particles, precipitating)