Articles | Volume 23, issue 3
30 Mar 2005
 | 30 Mar 2005

The role of 3-D geomagnetic induction in the determination of the ionospheric currents from the ground geomagnetic data

A. Pulkkinen and M. Engels

Abstract. The geomagnetic field variations measured at the surface of the Earth are composed of both internal and external parts. The external field arises from the sources in the magnetosphere and ionosphere, whereas the internal field is generated by the currents induced within the Earth. The internal part may in some situations comprise a notable part of the measured total field and thus a blind usage of geomagnetic field recordings potentially produces significant errors to estimated ionospheric currents. In this paper the role of geomagnetic induction in auroral ionospheric studies is investigated by modeling the induction using simultaneously the realistic ionospheric source and a realistic three-dimensional Earth conductivity structure.

The modeling results imply that the effects of the lateral ground conductivity anomalies on ionospheric equivalent current patterns are, though clearly detected, less severe than anticipated for fields varying with periods from 5 to 120min. However, the amplification of the determined currents caused by induction is significant, leading to an overestimation of up to 30% of the main current flow intensities, with the overestimation increasing sharply when moving away from the region of the main flow.

In addition to the 3-D modeling, a simple method is introduced to help estimate the internal contribution to the measured variations of the IL index (local variant of the AL index). A test with the 26 June 1998 substorm event indicates that the method can help to extract the internal contribution from the IL index.