As known from previous studies on the solar quiet (Sq) variation of the geomagnetic field, the strength and pattern of ionospheric dynamo currents change significantly from day to day. The present study investigates the relative importance of two sources that contribute to the day-to-day variability of the ionospheric currents at middle and low latitudes. One is high-latitude electric fields that are caused by magnetospheric convection, and the other is atmospheric waves from the lower atmosphere. Global ionospheric current systems, commonly known as Sq current systems, are simulated using the National Center for Atmospheric Research thermosphere-ionosphere-mesosphere-electrodynamics general circulation model. Simulations are run for 1–30 April 2010 with a constant solar energy input but with various combinations of high-latitude forcing and lower atmospheric forcing. The model well reproduces geomagnetic perturbations on the ground, when both forcings are taken into account. The contribution of high-latitude forcing to the total Sq current intensity (Jtotal) is generally smaller than the contribution of wave forcing from below 30 km, except during active periods (Kp≥4), when Jtotal is enhanced due to the leakage of high-latitude electric fields to lower latitudes. It is found that the penetration electric field drives ionospheric currents at middle and low latitudes not only on the dayside but also on the nightside, which has an appreciable effect on the Dst index. It is also found that quiet time day-to-day variability in Jtotal is dominated by symmetric-mode migrating diurnal and semidiurnal tidal winds at 45–60° latitude at ∼110 km.
©2016. The Authors.
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