Geophysical Research Letters

Response time of the polar ionospheric convection pattern to changes in the north-south direction of the IMF



A three-day period from January 27 through January 29,1992 is analyzed using one minute resolution solar wind data from the IMP-8 satellite and the ionospheric convection pattern data derived from the four operational DMSP satellites. During this period there were several clear reversals of the sign of the Z component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) which is known to have a direct effect on the convection patterns observed in the polar ionosphere. Polar convection patterns observed by the frequent passes of four DMSP satellites are examined following each sign change to determine the time lag between the change in the IMF at the magnetopause and the establishment of a new global convection signature in the ionosphere. After removing the transit time for the IMF to travel from the position of the IMP-8 satellite to the magnetopause, a further time lag of about 17 to 25 minutes is observed for the five cases where the IMF turned from northward to southward. A longer lag of between 28 and 44 minutes is observed for the two cases where the IMF turned from southward to northward. These lags are interpreted as the inertial response time of the ionosphere in reacting to the change in the IMF.