Articles | Volume 32, issue 10
Regular paper
16 Oct 2014
Regular paper |  | 16 Oct 2014

Applying inversion techniques to derive source currents and geoelectric fields for geomagnetically induced current calculations

J. S. de Villiers and P. J. Cilliers

Abstract. This research focuses on the inversion of geomagnetic variation field measurement to obtain source currents in the ionosphere. During a geomagnetic disturbance, the ionospheric currents create magnetic field variations that induce geoelectric fields, which drive geomagnetically induced currents (GIC) in power systems. These GIC may disturb the operation of power systems and cause damage to grounded power transformers. The geoelectric fields at any location of interest can be determined from the source currents in the ionosphere through a solution of the forward problem. Line currents running east–west along given surface position are postulated to exist at a certain height above the Earth's surface. This physical arrangement results in the fields on the ground having the magnetic north and down components, and the electric east component. Ionospheric currents are modelled by inverting Fourier integrals (over the wavenumber) of elementary geomagnetic fields using the Levenberg–Marquardt technique. The output parameters of the inversion model are the current strength, height and surface position of the ionospheric current system. A ground conductivity structure with five layers from Quebec, Canada, based on the Layered-Earth model is used to obtain the complex skin depth at a given angular frequency. This paper presents preliminary and inversion results based on these structures and simulated geomagnetic fields. The results show some interesting features in the frequency domain. Model parameters obtained through inversion are within 2% of simulated values. This technique has applications for modelling the currents of electrojets at the equator and auroral regions, as well as currents in the magnetosphere.