Northern Preference for Terrestrial Electromagnetic Energy Input from Space Weather

I. P. Pakhotin, I. R. Mann, K. Xie, J. Burchill, D. Knudsen

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Received Date: 9th April 20

Terrestrial space weather involves the transfer of energy and momentum from the solar wind into geospace. Despite recently discovered seasonal asymmetries between auroral forms and the intensity of emissions between northern and southern hemispheres, seasonally averaged energy input into the ionosphere is still generally considered to be symmetric. Here we use Swarm satellite data to show an unexpected preference for electromagnetic energy input at 450 km altitude into the northern hemisphere, on both the dayside and the nightside, when averaged over season. We propose that this is explained by the offset of the magnetic dipole away from Earth’s center. This introduces a larger separation between the magnetic pole and rotation axis in the south, creating different relative solar illumination of northern and southern auroral zones, resulting in changes to the strength of reflection of incident Alfvén waves from the ionosphere. Our study reveals an important asymmetry in seasonally averaged electromagnetic energy input to the atmosphere. Based on observed lower Poynting flux on the nightside this asymmetry may also exist for auroral emissions. Similar offsets may drive asymmetric energy input, and potentially aurora, on other planets.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature