Relationship between large-scale ionospheric field-aligned currents and electron/ion precipitations: DMSP observations

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In this study, we have derived field-aligned currents (FACs) from magnetometers onboard the Defense Meteorological Satellite Project (DMSP) satellites. The magnetic latitude versus local time distribution of FACs from DMSP shows comparable dependences with previous findings on the intensity and orientation of interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) By and Bz components, which confirms the reliability of DMSP FAC data set. With simultaneous measurements of precipitating particles from DMSP, we further investigate the relation between large-scale FACs and precipitating particles. Our result shows that precipitation electron and ion fluxes both increase in magnitude and extend to lower latitude for enhanced southward IMF Bz, which is similar to the behavior of FACs. Under weak northward and southward Bz conditions, the locations of the R2 current maxima, at both dusk and dawn sides and in both hemispheres, are found to be close to the maxima of the particle energy fluxes; while for the same IMF conditions, R1 currents are displaced further to the respective particle flux peaks. Largest displacement (about 3.5°) is found between the downward R1 current and ion flux peak at the dawn side. Our results suggest that there exists systematic differences in locations of electron/ion precipitation and large-scale upward/downward FACs. As outlined by the statistical mean of these two parameters, the FAC peaks enclose the particle energy flux peaks in an auroral band at both dusk and dawn sides. Our comparisons also found that particle precipitation at dawn and dusk and in both hemispheres maximizes near the mean R2 current peaks. The particle precipitation flux maxima closer to the R1 current peaks are lower in magnitude. This is opposite to the known feature that R1 currents are on average stronger than R2 currents. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].




Xiong, C., Stolle, C., Alken, P., & Rauberg, J. (2020). Relationship between large-scale ionospheric field-aligned currents and electron/ion precipitations: DMSP observations. Earth, Planets and Space, 72(1).

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