Auroral Electrojet Activity for Long-Duration Radial Interplanetary Magnetic Field Events

Jong Sun Park, Quan Qi Shi, Jih Hong Shue, Alexander W. Degeling, Motoharu Nowada, An Min Tian, Khan Hyuk Kim, Timo Pitkänen, Jesper W. Gjerloev

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In this paper, we provide statistical evidence that the level of solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere (SW-M-I) coupling is weaker under radial (Sun-Earth component dominant) interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) conditions than non-radial IMF conditions. This is performed by analyzing auroral electrojet activity (using SuperMAG auroral electrojet indices) in the sunlit and dark ionospheres for long-duration (at least 4 hr) radial IMF events and comparing against the same for long-duration azimuthal (dusk-dawn component dominant) IMF events. We show that the north-south IMF component (IMF Bz) plays a crucial role in controlling the level of auroral electrojet activity as a negative half-wave rectifier even for both IMF orientation categories. However, it is found that the magnitudes of the auroral electrojet indices are generally lower for radial IMF than for azimuthal IMF under similar sets of solar wind (radial bulk velocity and number density) and IMF Bz conditions, regardless of whether these indices are derived in the sunlit or dark regions. Moreover, the efficiency of coupling functions is lower for radial IMF than for azimuthal IMF, implying that increased coupling strength due to the azimuthal IMF component alone cannot well explain weaker auroral electrojets during radial IMF periods. Lastly, the contribution of the radial IMF component itself to auroral electrojet activity is also lower compared to the azimuthal IMF component. Our results suggest that the level of SW-M-I coupling characterized by auroral electrojet activity can be modulated by the radial IMF component, although the effect of this component is weaker than the other two IMF components.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022JA030816
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • auroral electrojet activity
  • azimuthal IMF
  • north-south IMF component
  • radial IMF
  • solar wind parameters
  • solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling


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