Articles | Volume 28, issue 6
01 Jun 2010
 | 01 Jun 2010

Substorm-related thermospheric density and wind disturbances derived from CHAMP observations

P. Ritter, H. Lühr, and E. Doornbos

Abstract. The input of energy and momentum from the magnetosphere is most efficiently coupled into the high latitude ionosphere-thermosphere. The phenomenon we are focusing on here is the magnetospheric substorm. This paper presents substorm related observations of the thermosphere derived from the CHAMP satellite. With its sensitive accelerometer the satellite can measure the air density and zonal winds. Based on a large number of substorm events the average high and low latitude thermospheric response to substorm onsets was deduced. During magnetic substorms the thermospheric density is enhanced first at high latitudes. Then the disturbance travels at an average speed of 650 m/s to lower latitudes, and 3–4 h later the bulge reaches the equator on the night side. Under the influence of the Coriolis force the travelling atmospheric disturbance (TAD) is deflected westward. In accordance with present-day atmospheric models the disturbance zonal wind velocities during substorms are close to zero near the equator before midnight and attain moderate westward velocities after midnight. In general, the wind system is only weakly perturbed (Δvy<20 m/s) by substorms.