Special Reviews

The Solar Wind-Magnetosphere-Ionosphere System

Science  16 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5473, pp. 1987-1991
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5473.1987

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Abstract

The solar wind, magnetosphere, and ionosphere form a single system driven by the transfer of energy and momentum from the solar wind to the magnetosphere and ionosphere. Variations in the solar wind can lead to disruptions of space- and ground-based systems caused by enhanced currents flowing into the ionosphere and increased radiation in the near-Earth environment. The coupling between the solar wind and the magnetosphere is mediated and controlled by the magnetic field in the solar wind through the process of magnetic reconnection. Understanding of the global behavior of this system has improved markedly in the recent past from coordinated observations with a constellation of satellite and ground instruments.

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