Articles | Volume 22, issue 2
01 Jan 2004
 | 01 Jan 2004

Ionospheric control of the magnetosphere: conductance

A. J. Ridley, T. I. Gombosi, and D. L. DeZeeuw

Abstract. It is well known that the ionosphere plays a role in determining the global state of the magnetosphere. The ionosphere allows magnetospheric currents to close, thereby allowing magnetospheric convection to occur. The amount of current which can be carried through the ionosphere is mainly determined by the ionospheric conductivity. This paper starts to quantify the nonlinear relationship between the ionospheric conductivity and the global state of the magnetosphere. It is found that the steady-state magnetosphere acts neither as a current nor as a voltage generator; a uniform Hall conductance can influence the potential pattern at low latitudes, but not at high latitude; the EUV generated conductance forces the currents to close in the sunlight, while the potential is large on the nightside; the solar generated Hall conductances cause a large asymmetry between the dawn and dusk potential, which effects the pressure distribution in the magnetosphere; a uniform polar cap potential removes some of this asymmetry; the potential difference between solar minimum and maximum is ∼11%; and the auroral precipitation can be related to the local field-aligned current through an exponential function.

Key words. Ionosphere (ionosphere-magnetosphere interactions; modelling and forecasting; polar ionosphere)