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Journal of Geophysical Research A: Space Physics


The storm-time magnetic disturbance at the Earth’s equator, as commonly measured by the Dst index, is induced by currents in the near-Earth magnetosphere. The ring current is generally considered the most important contributor, but other magnetospheric currents have also been found to have significant effects. Of the two main types of solar geomagnetic storm drivers, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) tend to have a much greater impact on Dst than Corotating Interaction Regions (CIRs). Ring current models have been found to underestimate Dst, particularly during storms driven by CIRs. One possible explanation is that the models neglect to handle some aspect of ring current physics that is particularly important for CIRs. This study uses the Comprehensive Ring Current Model (CRCM) to estimate the ring current contribution to Dst for a selection of storms of various strengths and different drivers (CMEs and CIRs) that have solar wind parameters that fit a typical profile. The model boundary is set to 10 RE at the equator, encompassing the entire ring current region. The magnetic field is held fixed, based on average storm parameters, which limits our model results to the effects of convection and plasma sheet density at the model boundary. Our model results generally show good agreement with the size and timing of fluctuations in Dst, which indicates that convection and boundary conditions play an important role in shaping Dst. We also find excellent agreement with the magnitude of Dst for CME-driven storms. For CIR-driven storms, however, the magnitude at the peak of the storm frequently deviates from actual Dst. In general, we agree with the results of previous research that CIR-driven storms are more underpredicted. However, this study includes some weaker CIR-driven storms for which Dst is actually overpredicted. Overall, when examining the dependence of modeled Dst* on actual Dst* at storm peak, we find that there is a statistically significant difference between CME- and CIR-driven storms. We also find that approximately half of the total ring current energy lies beyond an L-value of 6.6. However, this figure could be overestimated due to the use of a static magnetic field, which limits radial transport.



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