Articles | Volume 27, issue 4
08 Apr 2009
 | 08 Apr 2009

Seasonal and interplanetary magnetic field dependence of the field-aligned currents for both Northern and Southern Hemispheres

D. L. Green, C. L. Waters, B. J. Anderson, and H. Korth

Abstract. The configuration of the Earth's magnetosphere under various Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) and solar wind conditions alters the global distribution of Field-Aligned Currents (FACs) at the high latitude ionospheres. We use magnetic field data obtained from the Iridium constellation to extend recent studies that infer the dependence of the global FAC configuration on IMF direction and magnitude, hemisphere and season. New results are a reduced IMF By influence on the FAC configuration for the winter hemisphere and a redistribution of FAC to the nightside for winter relative to the summer hemisphere. These effects are linked to the winter ionosphere conductance distribution being dominated by localised nightside enhancement associated with ionisation from energetic particle precipitation. A comparison of an estimated open-closed field line boundary (OCFLB) with the Region 1 FAC locations shows reasonable agreement for summer FAC configurations. However, the OCFLB location is decoupled from the Region 1 FACs in winter, especially for IMF Bz>0.