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  1. Variations of vertical atmospheric electric field E z have been attributed mainly to meteorological processes. On the other hand, the theory of electromagnetic waves in the atmosphere, between the bottom ionosphere and earth’s surface, predicts two modes, magnetic H (TE) and electric E (TH) modes, where the E-mode has a vertical electric field component, E z . Past attempts to find signatures of ULF (periods from fractions to tens of minutes) disturbances in E z gave contradictory results. Recently, study of ULF disturbances of atmospheric electric field became feasible thanks to project GLOCAEM, which united stations with 1 sec measurements of potential gradient. These data enable us to address the long-standing problem of the coupling between atmospheric electricity and space weather disturbances at ULF time scales. Also, we have reexamined results of earlier balloon-born electric field and ground magnetic field measurements in Antarctica. Transmission of storm sudden commencement (SSC) impulses to lower latitudes was often interpreted as excitation of the electric TH 0 mode, instantly propagating along the ionosphere–ground waveguide. According to this theoretical estimate, even a weak magnetic signature of the E-mode ∼1 nT must be accompanied by a burst of E z well exceeding the atmospheric potential gradient. We havemore »examined simultaneous records of magnetometers and electric field-mills during >50 SSC events in 2007–2019 in search for signatures of E-mode. However, the observed E z disturbance never exceeded background fluctuations ∼10 V/m, much less than expected for the TH 0 mode. We constructed a model of the electromagnetic ULF response to an oscillating magnetospheric field-aligned current incident onto the realistic ionosphere and atmosphere. The model is based on numerical solution of the full-wave equations in the atmospheric-ionospheric collisional plasma, using parameters that were reconstructed using the IRI model. We have calculated the vertical and horizontal distributions of magnetic and electric fields of both H- and E-modes excited by magnetospheric field-aligned currents. The model predicts that the excitation rate of the E-mode by magnetospheric disturbances is low, so only a weak E z response with a magnitude of ∼several V/m will be produced by ∼100 nT geomagnetic disturbance. However, at balloon heights (∼30 km), electric field of the E-mode becomes dominating. Predicted amplitudes of horizontal electric field in the atmosphere induced by Pc5 pulsations and travelling convection vortices, about tens of mV/m, are in good agreement with balloon electric field and ground magnetometer observations.« less
  2. A circuit analogy for magnetosphere-ionosphere current systems has two extremes for drivers of ionospheric currents: the “voltage generator” (ionospheric electric fields/voltages are constant, while current varies) and the “current generator” (current is constant, while the electric field varies). Here we indicate another aspect of the magnetosphere-ionosphere interaction, which should be taken into account when considering the current/voltage dichotomy. We show that nonsteady field-aligned currents interact with the ionosphere in a different way depending on a forced driving or resonant excitation. A quasi-DC driving of field-aligned current corresponds to a voltage generator, when the ground magnetic response is proportional to the ionospheric Hall conductance. The excitation of resonant field line oscillations corresponds to the current generator, when the ground magnetic response only weakly depends on the ionospheric conductance. According to the suggested conception, quasi-DC nonresonant disturbances correspond to a voltage generator. Such ultralow frequency (ULF) phenomena as traveling convection vortices and Pc5 waves should be considered as the resonant response of magnetospheric field lines, and they correspond to a current generator. However, there are quite a few factors that may obscure the determination of the current/voltage dichotomy.