Response of ionospheric electric fields at mid-low latitudes during sudden commencements

N. Takahashi, Y. Kasaba, A. Shinbori, Y. Nishimura, T. Kikuchi, Y. Ebihara, T. Nagatsuma

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Using in situ observations from the Republic of China Satellite-1 spacecraft, we investigated the time response and local time dependence of the ionospheric electric field at mid-low latitudes associated with geomagnetic sudden commencements (SCs) that occurred from 1999 to 2004. We found that the ionospheric electric field variation associated with SCs instantaneously responds to the preliminary impulse (PI) signature on the ground regardless of spacecraft local time. Our statistical analysis also supports the global instant transmission of electric field from the polar region. In contrast, the peak time detected in the ionospheric electric field is earlier than that of the equatorial geomagnetic field (~20s before in the PI phase). Based on the ground-ionosphere waveguide model, this time lag can be attributed to the latitudinal difference of ionospheric conductivity. However, the local time distribution of the initial excursion of ionospheric electric field shows that dusk-to-dawn ionospheric electric fields develop during the PI phase. Moreover, the westward electric field in the ionosphere, which produces the preliminary reverse impulse of the geomagnetic field on the dayside feature, appears at 18-22h LT where the ionospheric conductivity beyond the duskside terminator (18h LT) is lower than on the dayside. The result of a magnetohydrodynamic simulation for an ideal SC shows that the electric potential distribution is asymmetric with respect to the noon-midnight meridian. This produces the local time distribution of ionospheric electric fields similar to the observed result, which can be explained by the divergence of the Hall current under nonuniform ionospheric conductivity. Key Points Ionospheric electric fields respond instantaneously and globally Instant transmission of electric field is explained by the waveguide model Nonuniform ionospheric conductivity affects LT dependence of electric field

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4849-4862
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jun 1


  • electric field
  • magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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