EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The future evolution of the auroral zones

Stefano Maffei1,2, Philip Livermore2, Jonathan Mound2, Joseph Eggington3, Jonathan Eastwood3, Sabrina Sanchez4, and Mervyn Freeman5
Stefano Maffei et al.
  • 1Institute of Geophysics, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
  • 3Department of Physics, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
  • 4Institut de physique du globe de Paris, Paris, France
  • 5British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, United Kingdom

The auroral zones indicate the locations on the Earth’s surface where, on average, it is most likely to spot aurorae as a consequence of increased solar activity. The shape of the auroral zones and, similarly, the geographical locations most vulnerable to extreme space weather events are modulated by the geomagnetic field of internal origin. As the latter evolves in time, the formers will be subject to variations on the same timescales.

From available geomagnetic field forecasts (which provide an estimate of the future evolution of the geomagnetic field of internal origin) we derive AACGM latitudes and estimate the future evolution of the auroral zones. The novel aspect of this technique is that we make use of all available Gauss coefficients to produce the forecasts, while the majority of present techniques estimate the location of the auroral zones based on the dipolar coefficients only. Our results show that, while the shift of the geomagnetic dipole axis has a first order contribution, higher order Gauss coefficients contribute significantly to the location and shape of the auroral zones.

The same technique is then extended to estimate the future location of the geographical location that would be, on average, most exposed to extreme space weather event. We find that the space-weather related risk will not change significantly for the UK over the next 50 years. For the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, however, we predict a significant increase in the risk associated to extreme solar activity.

How to cite: Maffei, S., Livermore, P., Mound, J., Eggington, J., Eastwood, J., Sanchez, S., and Freeman, M.: The future evolution of the auroral zones, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-84,, 2022.

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