Rotationally-Induced Birkeland Current Systems
- Thomas A. Potemra
Published Online: 21 MAR 2013
Copyright 1984 by the American Geophysical Union.
How to Cite
Hill, T. W. (1984) Rotationally-Induced Birkeland Current Systems, in Magnetospheric Currents (ed T. A. Potemra), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM028p0340
- Published Online: 21 MAR 2013
- Published Print: 1 JAN 1984
Print ISBN: 9780875900551
Online ISBN: 9781118664131
- Magnetospheric currents—Congresses;
- Plasma instabilities—Congresses
Rotational effects which are negligible in Earth's magnetosphere become dominant in the magnetospheres of the outer planets where they give rise to Birkeland current circuits coupling the ionospheric and magnetospheric motions. The centrifugal force of corotation produces an azimuthal ring current in the magnetosphere while the Coriolis force produces a current parallel to the plasma flow. The acceleration current also becomes significant when deviations from strict corotation are appreciable. In general, none of these currents are divergence-free, and closure is provided by ionospheric conduction currents via connecting Birkeland currents. Thus the ionospheric conductivity regulates magnetospheric motions much as it does in the terrestrial case. The effects of such currents have been clearly observed in the magnetospheres of Jupiter and Saturn.
Birkeland current circuits also transmit planetary angular momentum to external sinks such as conducting satellites (e.g., Io), plasma production sites (e.g., the Io torus), and/or the surrounding solar wind (as proposed for Uranus).