Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Daytime Dynamo Electrodynamics With Spiral Currents Driven by Strong Winds Revealed by Vapor Trails and Sounding Rocket Probes


We investigate the forces and atmosphere-ionosphere coupling that create atmospheric dynamo currents using two rockets launched nearly simultaneously on 4 July 2013 from Wallops Island (USA), during daytime Sq conditions with ΔH of -30 nT. One rocket released a vapor trail observed from an airplane which showed peak velocities of >160 m/s near 108 km and turbulence coincident with strong unstable shear. Electric and magnetic fields and plasma density were measured on a second rocket. The current density peaked near 110 km exhibiting a spiral pattern with altitude that mirrored that of the winds, suggesting the dynamo is driven by tidal forcing. Such stratified currents are obscured in integrated ground measurements. Large electric fields produced a current opposite to that driven by the wind, believed created to minimize the current divergence. Using the observations, we solve the dynamo equation versus altitude, providing a new perspective on the complex nature of the atmospheric dynamo.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View