Multi-site observations of the association between aurora and plasma convection in the cusp/polar cap during a southeastward(<i>B<sub>y</sub></i> <u>~</u> |<i>B<sub>z</sub></i>|) IMF orientation

  • Sandholt P
  • Moen J
  • Farrugia C
  • et al.
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In a case study we demonstrate the spatiotemporal structure of aurora and plasma convection in the cusp/polar cap when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) B z < 0 and B y ≃ \B z \ (clock angle in GSM Y - Z plane: ≃ 135°). This IMF orientation elicited a response different from that corresponding to strongly northward and southward IMF. Our study of this "intermediate state" is based on a combination of ground observations of optical auroral emissions and ionospheric plasma convection. Utilizing allsky cameras at Ny Ålesund, Svalbard and Heiss Island (Russian arctic), we are able to monitor t he high-latitude auroral activity within the ~ 10:00-15:00 MLT sector. Information on plasma convection is obtained from the SuperDARN radars, with emphasis placed on line of sight observations from the radar situated in Hankasalmi, Finland (Cutlass). A central feature of the auroral observations in the cusp/polar cap region is a ~30-min long sequence of four brightening events, some of which consists of latitudinally and longitudinally separated forms, which are found to be associated with pulsed ionospheric flows in merging and lobe convection cells. The auroral/convection events may be separated into different forms/cells and phases, reflecting a spatiotemporal evolution of the reconnection process on the dayside magnetopause. The initial phase consists of a brightening in the postnoon sector (~12:00-14:00 MLT) at ~73° MLAT, accompanied by a pulse of enhanced westward convection in the postnoon merging cell. Thereafter, the event evolution comprises two phenomena which occur almost simultaneously: (1) westward expansion of the auroral brightening (equatorward boundary intensification) across noon, into the ~10:00-12:00 MLT sector, where the plasma convection subsequently turns almost due north, in the convection throat, and where classical poleward moving auroral forms (PMAFs) are observed; and (2) auroral brightening at slightly higher latitudes (~75° MLAT) in the postnoon lobe cell, with expansion towards noon, giving rise to a clear cusp bifurcation. The fading phase of PMAFs is accompanied by a "patch" of enhanced (~1 km/s) poleward-directed merging cell convection at high latitudes (75-82° MLAT), e.g. more than 500 km poleward of the cusp equatorward boundary. The major aurora/convection events are recurring at ~5-10 min intervals.




Sandholt, P. E., Moen, J., Farrugia, C. J., Cowley, S. W. H., Lester, M., Milan, S. E., … Eriksson, S. (2003). Multi-site observations of the association between aurora and plasma convection in the cusp/polar cap during a southeastward(By <u>~</u> |Bz|) IMF orientation. Annales Geophysicae, 21(2), 539–558.

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