High-altitude polar cap electric field responses to southward turnings of the interplanetary magnetic field

NE Turner*, DN Baker, T.I. Pulkkinen, HJ Singer, F Mozer, RP Lepping

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Interplanetary electric field coupling with the magnetosphere has been analyzed predominantly using data from the Wind magnetometer and the Polar electric field instrument. The coupling was investigated using the Polar Electric Field Instrument (EFI) to measure the electric field in the northern polar cap immediately following sharp southward turnings of the IMF as observed by Wind. Southward turnings were chosen which exhibited a sudden change of the IMF north-south component from B-z > 0 to B-z <0 (GSM coordinates) after an hour or more of relatively stable conditions, and for which Polar was in the northern polar cap. These Bz changes correspond to B-y changes in the interplanetary electric field. For each of the 30 identified events, a time was estimated for the arrival of the IMF change at the magnetopause using the solar wind speed observed by the Wind Solar Wind Experiment (SWE), and Polar electric field data were examined to identify responses. For many of the selected events (about one third), abrupt changes of state in the magnetospheric electric field were evident with timing that matched the expected solar wind arrival time at Earth. For events for which additional data were available, we conducted in-depth examination of the individual events using IMP 8, Geotail, and GOES 9. In one such event, GOES 9 data showed a substorm growth phase and onset which also corresponded to features in the solar wind observed by Wind, Geotail, and IMP 8. In addition to the individual event studies, a superposed epoch analysis of all available events revealed a consistent rise in the mean polar cap electric field about 15 min following sharp IMF southward turnings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26533-26545
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of geophysical research: Space physics
Issue numberA11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 1998
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



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