Journal Article What caused the rapid recovery of the Carrington storm?

Keika, Kunihiro  ,  Ebihara, Yusuke  ,  Kataoka, Ryuho

672015-05-08 , SpringerOpen
The geomagnetic storm during the Carrington event, which occurred on 2 September 1859, displayed extremely rapid recovery. The geomagnetic field increased by approximately 650 nT/h at Bombay, India, and by >300 nT/h in 1-h averaged data. Although the rapid recovery is considered due to a sudden increase in the magnetopause current, a sudden decrease of the ring current, or/and a sudden enhancement of the ionospheric currents, this study focuses on the ring current decay. The Carrington rapid recovery had a time constant (approximately 1 h) comparable to the storm development (i.e., decrease in the geomagnetic field), indicating that energy loss from the ring current region is predominantly controlled by E × B convection transport which is responsible for energy input during the storm main phase. This feature has led us to a hypothesis that the flow-out of dense ring current ions and injections of tenuous plasma sheet ions caused the rapid decay of the ring current and in turn the storm rapid recovery. This study examines whether the Carrington rapid recovery can be explained by the flow-out effect. We extend the empirical Burton’s model to a model that takes into consideration a sudden change in solar wind density which is correlated with plasma sheet density. We first apply the extended Burton’s model to previously observed four intense magnetic storms (Dst minimum < −200 nT) for which solar wind data are available. Using the best fit parameters found by forward modeling, the extended model estimates the recovery of the Carrington storm. The estimate indicates that a solar wind structure with a density bump by approximately 100 cm[−3] (and southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) of 65 nT and solar wind speed of 1, 500 km/s) can cause the rapid recovery under a continuous southward IMF condition. We conclude that the flow-out effect plays a significant role in producing the rapid recovery of the Carrington storm.

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