Articles | Volume 30, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 30, 177–202, 2012
Ann. Geophys., 30, 177–202, 2012

Regular paper 17 Jan 2012

Regular paper | 17 Jan 2012

Storm-time ring current: model-dependent results

N. Yu. Ganushkina1,2, M. W. Liemohn1, and T. I. Pulkkinen3 N. Yu. Ganushkina et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
  • 2Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Aalto University, School of Electrical Engineering, Espoo, Finland

Abstract. The main point of the paper is to investigate how much the modeled ring current depends on the representations of magnetic and electric fields and boundary conditions used in simulations. Two storm events, one moderate (SymH minimum of −120 nT) on 6–7 November 1997 and one intense (SymH minimum of −230 nT) on 21–22 October 1999, are modeled. A rather simple ring current model is employed, namely, the Inner Magnetosphere Particle Transport and Acceleration model (IMPTAM), in order to make the results most evident. Four different magnetic field and two electric field representations and four boundary conditions are used. We find that different combinations of the magnetic and electric field configurations and boundary conditions result in very different modeled ring current, and, therefore, the physical conclusions based on simulation results can differ significantly. A time-dependent boundary outside of 6.6 RE gives a possibility to take into account the particles in the transition region (between dipole and stretched field lines) forming partial ring current and near-Earth tail current in that region. Calculating the model SymH* by Biot-Savart's law instead of the widely used Dessler-Parker-Sckopke (DPS) relation gives larger and more realistic values, since the currents are calculated in the regions with nondipolar magnetic field. Therefore, the boundary location and the method of SymH* calculation are of key importance for ring current data-model comparisons to be correctly interpreted.