Articles | Volume 20, issue 3
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 429–435, 2013
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 20, 429–435, 2013

Research article 27 Jun 2013

Research article | 27 Jun 2013

The effect of nonlinear ionospheric conductivity enhancement on magnetospheric substorms

E. Spencer and S. Patra E. Spencer and S. Patra
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA

Abstract. We introduce the effect of enhanced ionospheric conductivity into a low-order, physics-based nonlinear model of the nightside magnetosphere called WINDMI. The model uses solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) parameters from the ACE satellite located at the L1 point to predict substorm growth, onset, expansion and recovery measured by the AL index roughly 50–60 min in advance. The dynamics introduced by the conductivity enhancement into the model behavior is described, and illustrated through using synthetically constructed solar wind parameters as input. We use the new model to analyze two well-documented isolated substorms: one that occurred on 31 July 1997 from Aksnes et al. (2002), and another on 13 April 2000 from Huang et al. (2004). These two substorms have a common feature in that the solar wind driver sharply decreases in the early part of the recovery phase, and that neither of them are triggered by northward turning of the IMF Bz. By controlling the model parameters such that the onset time of the substorm is closely adhered to, the westward auroral electrojet peaks during substorm expansion are qualitatively reproduced. Furthermore, the electrojet recovers more slowly with enhanced conductivity playing a role, which explains the data more accurately.