TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 62 (No. 10), pp. 843-848, 2010

Solar cycle dependence of quiet-time magnetospheric currents and a model of their near-Earth magnetic fields

Hermann Lühr1 and Stefan Maus2,3

1GFZ, German Research Centre for Geoscience, Potsdam, Germany
2Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences—CIRES, Boulder, USA
3National Geophysical Data Center—NGDC/NOAA, Boulder, USA

(Received April 27, 2010; Revised July 7, 2010; Accepted July 20, 2010; Online published December 31, 2010)

Abstract: Satellite measurements from high-resolution magnetic field mapping missions over almost a complete solar cycle have been used to investigate the variability of major magnetospheric currents during quiet times. As judged from near-Earth magnetic field observations, the magnetotail current system exhibits no long-term trend. Activity-dependent enhancements decay within hours. A suitable quantity to parameterize the temporal variation is the merging electric field, delayed by 60 minutes with respect to its value at the bow shock. Conversely, the ring current strength shows pronounced solar cycle dependences. We show for the first time that a solar cycle dependent bias has to be added to DST to represent the actual ring current strength. It ranges from -15 nT at solar maximum to zero at solar minimum. The scaled solar flux index, F10.7, delayed by 20 months, is found to be a suitable proxy for predicting the bias. This empirical result reflects no physical relation between F10.7 and ring current bias. A spherical harmonic model valid at Earth's surface is presented that reflects the quiet-time magnetospheric fields.
Key words: Geomagnetism, magnetic field modelling, magnetospheric fields, magnetospheric currents.

Corresponding author E-mail: hluehr@gfz-potsdam.de

[Full text] (PDF 460 KB)