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Space Science Reviews

, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp 699–770 | Cite as

Magnetic storms and associated phenomena

  • K. D. Cole
Article

Abstract

This review will not merely be a précis of the literature in this field though a partial survey is attempted. A critical stand will be taken and a point of view put forward. Experiments to test this point of view and others will be suggested. Several new ideas are introduced.

Two broad conditions of the magnetosphere are discussed, the quiet and the disturbed. During the quiet condition, the polar cap F region either glows red or is filled with a family of red auroral arcs parallel roughly to L-contours. Auroras near the auroral zone have an increasing amount of green (λ5577) coloration. The ionospheric F region exists even in winter over the polar caps despite the absence of solar ionizing radiation or obvious corpuscular bombardment. The red polar glow and the maintenance of the quiet polar winter F region are suggested to be accounted for by the cooling of plasma in the geomagnetic tail. These phenomena consume less than 0.01 of the energy and flux of the solar wind impinging on the magnetosphere. The relevance of dynamo theory to this “quiet” condition is discussed.

During the disturbed condition, many phenomena such as polar magnetic substorms, auroral substorms, the sudden appearance of “islands” of energetic particles in the magnetosphere, and the rapid acceleration of auroral particles appear to call for the operation of an instability deep in the magnetosphere.

The energetics of various facets of geomagnetic disturbance are discussed, and joule dissipation of ionospheric current is found to be a major sink of energy during storms. This causes significant heating of the ionosphere particularly at the site of auroral electrojets. Corpuscular bombardment may consume as much energy, but its heating effect is likely to be less.

The stable auroral red arc (SAR-arc) observed equatorwards of normal active aurora during magnetic storms is a major sink of energy of a magnetospheric ring current. It is contended that the ring current generally consists of particles of energy of less than a few keV. It is suggested that the ring current is caused by the irreversible pumping and energisation of plasma from the outer to the inner magnetosphere. This pumping is achieved by the random electrostatic fields associated with the noisy component of geomagnetic disturbance. The SAR-arc must be a major feature of ring current theory.

The consumption of energy in polar magnetic and auroral substorms, during a complete storm, is tentatively concluded to be far greater than that of the ring current. The ring current is considered to be a byproduct of magnetic disturbance on higher L-shells.

The main phase of a storm should be considered, in storm analysis, as a separate entity from the initial phase, for physically they bear a tenuous and unpredictable relationship to one another. A new system of analysis is proposed in which the onset of geomagnetic noise rather than sudden commencement is taken as the origin of time, both for magnetic and ionospheric storms. This will enable analysis of storms with both gradual and sudden commencements to be made on a common basis.

No reliable evidence is found to support the contention that magnetic storms are caused dominantly by neutral H-atoms ejected from the sun. In fact much evidence can be amassed to deny this hypothesis.

Keywords

Magnetic Storm Ring Current Geomagnetic Disturbance Sudden Commencement Auroral Electrojet 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. D. Cole
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space PhysicsUniversity of ColoradoBoulder

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