Corotating solar wind streams and recurrent geomagnetic activity: A review

Bruce T. Tsurutani*, Walter D. Gonzalez, Alicia L.C. Gonzalez, Fernando L. Guarnieri, Nat Gopalswamy, Manuel Grande, Yohsuke Kamide, Yoshiya Kasahara, Gang Lu, Ian Mann, Robert McPherron, Finn Soraas, Vytenis Vasyliunas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

540 Citations (SciVal)


Solar wind fast streams emanating from solar coronal holes cause recurrent, moderate intensity geomagnetic activity at Earth. Intense magnetic field regions called Corotating Interaction Regions or CIRs are created by the interaction of fast streams with upstream slow streams. Because of the highly oscillatory nature of the GSM magnetic field z component within CIRs, the resultant magnetic storms are typically only weak to moderate in intensity. CIR-generated magnetic storm main phases of intensity Dst < -100 nT (major storms) are rare. The elongated storm "recovery" phases which are characterized by continuous AE activity that can last for up to 27 days (a solar rotation) are caused by nonlinear Alfvén waves within the high streams proper. Magnetic reconnection associated with the southward (GSM) components of the Alfvén waves is the solar wind energy transfer mechanism. The acceleration of relativistic electrons occurs during these magnetic storm "recovery" phases. The magnetic reconnection associated with the Alfvén waves cause continuous, shallow injections of plasma sheet plasma into the magnetosphere. The asymmetric plasma is unstable to wave (chorus and other modes) growth, a feature central to many theories of electron acceleration. It is noted that the continuous AE activity is not a series of substorm expansion phases. Arguments are also presented why these AE activity intervals are not convection bays. The auroras during these continuous AE activity intervals are less intense than substorm auroras and are global (both dayside and nightside) in nature. Owing to the continuous nature of this activity, it is possible that there is greater average energy input into the magnetosphere/ ionosphere system during far declining phases of the solar cycle compared with those during solar maximum. The discontinuities and magnetic decreases (MDs) associated with interplanetary Alfven waves may be important for geomagnetic activity. In conclusion, it will be shown that geomagnetic storms associated with high-speed streams/CIRs will have the same initial, main, and "recovery" phases as those associated with ICME-related magnetic storms but that the interplanetary causes are considerably different.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA07S01
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jul 2006


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