The Cross-Polar Cap Saturation in GUMICS-4 During High Solar Wind Driving

A. Lakka*, T. I. Pulkkinen, A. P. Dimmock, Minna Myllys, I. Honkonen, M. Palmroth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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It is well known that the Earth's ionospheric cross-polar cap potential (CPCP) saturates as a response to the solar wind (SW) driver especially when the level of driving is high and the interplanetary magnetic field is oriented southward. Moreover, previous studies have shown that the upstream Alfvén Mach number may be an important factor in the saturation effect. While the CPCP is often viewed as a measure of the SW-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, the processes associated with the nonlinearity of the coupling remain an open issue. We use fourth edition of the Grand Unified Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling Simulation (GUMICS-4) and artificial SW data to mimic weak and strong driving in order to study the CPCP response to a wide range of interplanetary magnetic field magnitudes (3.5-30 nT) and upstream Alfvén Mach number values (1.2-22). The results provide the first overview of the CPCP saturation in GUMICS-4 and show that the onset of saturation is strongly dependent on the upstream Alfvén Mach number and the physical processes responsible for the saturation effect might take place both in the Earth's magnetosheath and in the upstream SW.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3320-3332
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of geophysical research: Space physics
Issue number5
Early online date26 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Alfvén Mach number
  • Global MHD
  • GUMICS-4
  • Polar cap potential saturation
  • Reconnection
  • Solar wind-magnetosphere coupling


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