Hurricanes in the lower atmosphere of the earth are well known. However, hurricane-like disturbances have never been found in the upper atmosphere.
Professor Mike Lockwood, a space scientist in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading, said: “Until now, it is uncertain whether there is a space plasma hurricane, so it is incredible to prove this with such amazing observations. of.”
“Tropical storms are related to huge amounts of energy, and these space hurricanes must be produced by extremely large and rapid transfer of solar wind energy and charged particles into the upper atmosphere of the earth.”
“There are plasmas and magnetic fields in planetary atmospheres throughout the universe, so research results show that space hurricanes should be a common phenomenon.”
In this study, Professor Lockwood and his colleagues analyzed data collected by four National Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites in 2014.
They detected a 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) wide plasma mass in the North Pole ionosphere and magnetosphere during low solar activity and other low geomagnetic activities.
The hurricane rotates in a counterclockwise direction, with multiple spiral arms, which lasted for nearly eight hours before it gradually decomposed.
“These characteristics indicate that, under the originally extremely quiet geomagnetic conditions, a large amount of energy and flux are rapidly deposited into the polar ionosphere by space hurricanes, which indicates that current geomagnetic activity indicators cannot correctly represent the violent activities in space hurricanes. Professor Zhang Qinghe from the Shandong Provincial Key Laboratory of Optical Astronomy and Solar Terrestrial Environment at the Institute of Space Science of Shandong University said: “This is farther than the geomagnetic observatory. “
He added: “This study shows that there are still strong local geomagnetic interference and energy deposits comparable to those during strong storms.”
“This will give us a deeper understanding of the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling process under extremely quiet geomagnetic conditions.”
“In addition, space hurricanes will cause important space weather effects, such as increased satellite resistance, high-frequency (HF) radio communications interference, and over-the-horizon radar positioning, increased errors in satellite navigation and communication systems.”
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.
Zhang Qinghua Wait. 2021. A hurricane over the earth’s polar ionosphere. Nat Comp December 1207; doi: 10.1038 / s41467-021-21459-y