Geomagnetic signatures of sudden ionospheric disturbances during extreme solar radiation events

A. V. Dmitriev, H. C. Yeh

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17 Scopus citations


We performed a comparative study of geomagnetic variations, which are associated with sudden ionospheric disturbances (SIDs) caused by great X-class solar flares on July 14, 2000 (Bastille flare) and on October 28, 2003 (Halloween flare). Intense fluxes of solar X-rays and EUV radiation as well as solar energetic particles (SEP) were considered as sources of abundant ionization of the ionosphere and upper atmosphere. Flare-initiated SIDs are revealed as transient geomagnetic variations, which are generated by enhanced electric currents flowing mainly in the bottom-side ionosphere. Those so-called solar flare effects (SFEs) were studied by using of geomagnetic data from INTERMAGNET worldwide network of ground-based magnetometers. In subsolar region the SFE is mainly controlled by the flare X-rays and/or EUV radiation. We found that in the Halloween flare the contribution of X-rays was comparable with the EUV, but in the Bastille flare the EUV flux was dominant. The ionization at high latitudes is generated by the SEP, which energy flux is comparable and even exceeds the solar electromagnetic radiation in that region. It was shown that in the Halloween event the pattern of SFE is formed by a two-vortex current system, which is similar to the quiet day Sq current system. However, during the Bastille flare, the pattern of induced currents is quite different: the northern vortex shifts westward and southern vortex shifts eastward such that the electroject is substantially tilted relative to the geomagnetic equator. From numerical estimations we found that at middle latitudes the SEP-initiated geomagnetic effect becomes comparable with the effects of solar electromagnetic radiation. It was also shown that the SEP contribute to the SFE in the nightside hemisphere. The revealed features of the SEP impact to the ionosphere were found in a good agreement with the theory of energetic particle penetration to the bottom-side magnetosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1971-1984
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - Dec 2008


  • Geomagnetic variations
  • Ionospheric solar flare effects
  • Solar energetic particles
  • Solar EUV and X-rays


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