Introduction to the Topology of Magnetospheric Current Systems

  1. Thomas A. Potemra
  1. W. P. Olson

Published Online: 21 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM028p0049

Magnetospheric Currents

Magnetospheric Currents

How to Cite

Olson, W. P. (1984) Introduction to the Topology of Magnetospheric Current Systems, in Magnetospheric Currents (ed T. A. Potemra), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM028p0049

Author Information

  1. Mcdonnel Douglas Astronautics Company, 5301 Bolsa Avenue, Huntington Beach, CA 92647

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 21 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1984

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900551

Online ISBN: 9781118664131



  • Magnetospheric currents—Congresses;
  • Plasma instabilities—Congresses


A brief history of the observations and study of the major magnetospheric current systems is presented. These currents are usually inferred from the observation of their associated magnetic fields but are formed by magnetospheric plasmas. Although the energy sources for the magnetopause and ring currents are well understood, the particle and energy sources for the tail and Birkeland currents are still being sought. It is suggested that the direct entry of magnetosheath plasma into the magnetosphere is responsible for the tail and Region 1 Birkeland currents.