Articles | Volume 31, issue 3
Regular paper
14 Mar 2013
Regular paper |  | 14 Mar 2013

Effect of the solar wind conditions on the ionospheric equivalent current systems

J. J. Zhang, C. Wang, B. B. Tang, and H. Li

Abstract. We employ a global magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) model, namely the PPMLR-MHD model, to investigate the effect of the solar wind conditions, such as the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) clock angle, southward IMF magnitude and solar wind speed, on the average pattern of the ionospheric equivalent current systems (ECS). A new method to derive ECS from the MHD model is proposed and applied, which takes account of the oblique magnetic field line effects. The model results indicate that when the IMF is due northward, the ECS are very weak while the current over polar region is stronger than the lower latitude; when the IMF rotates southward, the two-cell current system dominates, the eastward electrojet on the afternoon sector and the westward electrojet on the dawn sector increase rapidly while the westward electrojet is stronger than the eastward electrojet. Under southward IMF, the intensity of the westward electrojet and eastward electrojet both increase with the increase of the southward IMF magnitude and solar wind speed, and the increase is very sharp for the westward electrojet. Furthermore, we compare the geomagnetic perturbations on the ground represented by the simulated average ECS with the observation-based statistical results under similar solar wind conditions. It is found that the model results generally match with the observations, but the underestimation of the eastward equivalent current on the dusk sector is the main limitation of the present model.