skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Sotirelis, Thomas"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    Energetic particles of magnetospheric origin constantly strike the Earth’s upper atmosphere in the polar regions, producing optical emissions known as the aurora. The most spectacular auroral displays are associated with recurrent events called magnetospheric substorms (aka auroral substorms). Substorms are initiated in the nightside magnetosphere on closed magnetic field lines. As a consequence, it is generally thought that auroral substorms should occur in both hemispheres on the same field line (i.e., magnetically conjugated). However, such a hypothesis has not been verified statistically. Here, by analyzing 2659 auroral substorms acquired by the Ultraviolet Imager on board the NASA satellite “Polar”, we have discovered surprising evidence that the averaged location for substorm onsets is not conjugate but shows a geographic preference that cannot be easily explained by current substorm theories. In the Northern Hemisphere (NH) the auroral substorms occur most frequently in Churchill, Canada (~90°W) and Khatanga, Siberia (~100°E), up to three times as often as in Iceland (~22°W). In the Southern Hemisphere (SH), substorms occur more frequently over a location in the Antarctic ocean (~120°E), up to ~4 times more than over the Antarctic Continent. Such a large difference in the longitudinal distribution of north and south onset defies the common belief that substorms in the NH and SH should be magnetically conjugated. A further analysis indicates that these substorm events occurred more frequently when more of the ionosphere was dark. These geographic areas also coincide with regions where the Earth’s magnetic field is largest. These facts suggest that auroral substorms occur more frequently, and perhaps more intensely, when the ionospheric conductivity is lower. With much of the magnetotail energy coming from the solar wind through merging of the interplanetary and Earth’s magnetic field, it is generally thought that the occurrence of substorms is externally controlled by the solar wind and plasma instability in the magnetotail. The present study results provide a strong argument that the ionosphere plays a more active role in the occurrence of substorms.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    We study the effects of the east‐west (y) component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) on the occurrence of substorms by analyzing 16,743 magnetic substorm events identified with the SuperMAGSMLindex from 1995 to 2016. It is found, surprisingly, that substorm occurrence rates depend highly on the sign of IMFBy, with, on average, ~1/3 more substorms for IMFBy> 0 than for IMFBy< 0. We attribute this asymmetry to the enhanced convection (e.g., more energy in the tail) under IMFBy> 0 conditions. A superposed epoch analysis of the IMF indicates that the average IMFByprior to onset is positive but becomes less positive ~15 min prior to the onset, indicating that the release of the stress associated with a clockwise twisted magnetotail may be an important onset trigger. We conjecture that an asymmetry in the dayside merging efficiency may be the cause.

    more » « less