Research ArticleSPACE SCIENCES

Assessing the global Alfvén wave power flow into and out of the auroral acceleration region during geomagnetic storms

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Science Advances  26 Jun 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 6, eaav8411
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav8411


Geomagnetic storms are large space weather events with potentially tremendous societal implications. During these storms, the transfer of energy from the solar wind into geospace is largely increased, leading to enhanced energy flow and deposition within the magnetosphere and ionosphere. While various energy forms participate, the rate of total Alfvén wave energy flowing into the auroral acceleration region—where the magnetosphere and ionosphere couple—has not been quantified. Here, we report a fourfold increase in hemispherical Alfvénic power (from 2.59 to 10.05 GW) over a largely expanded oval band covering all longitudes and latitudes between 50° and 85° during the main storm phase compared with nonstorm periods. The Poynting flux associated with individual Alfvén waves reached values of up to about 0.5 W/m2 (mapped to ionospheric altitude). These results demonstrate that Alfvén waves are an important component of geomagnetic storms and associated energy flow into the auroral acceleration region.

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