Feedback of the Magnetosphere

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Science  07 Mar 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6175, pp. 1086-1087
DOI: 10.1126/science.1250590

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For half a century, it has been known that the solar wind drives geomagnetic activity in Earth's magnetosphere. Changes in the solar-wind plasma produce perturbations in ground-based magnetometers and can prompt changes in Earth's auroral activity. When the coupling of the solar wind to the magnetosphere becomes particularly strong, a geomagnetic storm can occur, which may result in interference with communications, damage to spacecraft, and risk to high-latitude power grids (1). On page 1122 of this issue, Walsh et al. (2) report satellite measurements that quantify important modifications to this coupling between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere.