, Volume 109, Issue 1-4, pp 105-131

Ring Current Energy Input and Decay

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Abstract

A new view of the ring current as an active element in the geospace system has emerged in which the ring current responds not only to changing convection electric fields imposed by solar wind interactions but to internal dynamics of the magnetosphere-ionosphere-atmosphere (geospace) system. Variations in the plasma sheet density, temperature and composition, saturation of the polar cap potential drop (and presumably the cross-tail potential drop), modifications to the imposed convection potential in the inner magnetosphere due to ring current shielding effects, the presence of a pre-existing ring current population, storm-substorm coupling, and strong convection with and without accompanying substorm activity all have an impact on the ring current strength, formation and loss. All of these internal processes imply that the geoeffectiveness of a solar wind driver cannot be predicted on the basis of the characteristics of the driver alone but must reflect key aspects of the dynamically changing geospace environment, itself. This review gives a summary of new information on ring current input and decay processes focusing on implications for the global geospace response to solar wind drivers during magnetic storms and on open questions that can be addressed with new ENA imaging techniques.

This revised version was published online in August 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.