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The statistical dependence of auroral absorption on geomagnetic and solar wind parameters

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date03/2004
JournalAnnales Geophysicae
Number of pages11
Original languageEnglish


Data from the Imaging Riometer for Ionospheric Studies (IRIS) at Kilpisjärvi, Finland, have been compiled to form statistics of auroral absorption based on seven years of observations. In a previous study a linear relationship between the logarithm of the absorption and the Kp index provided a link between the observations of precipitation with the level of geomagnetic activity. A better fit to the absorption data is found in the form of a quadratic in Kp for eight magnetic local time sectors. Past statistical investigations of absorption have hinted at the possibility of using the solar wind velocity as a proxy for the auroral absorption, although the lack of available satellite data made such an investigation difficult. Here we employ data from the solar wind monitors, WIND and ACE, and derive a linear relationship between the solar wind velocity and the cosmic noise absorption at IRIS for the same eight magnetic local time sectors. As far as the authors are aware this is the first time that in situ measurements of the solar wind velocity have been used to create a direct link with absorption on a statistical basis. The results are promising although, it is clear that some other factor is necessary in providing reliable absorption predictions. Due to the substorm related nature of auroral absorption, this is likely formed by the recent time history of the geomagnetic activity, or by some other indicator of the energy stored within the magnetotail. For example, a dependence on the southward IMF (interplanetary magnetic field) is demonstrated with absorption increasing with successive decreases in Bz; a northward IMF appears to have little effect and neither does the eastward component, By.