Strong ionospheric field-aligned currents for radial interplanetary magnetic fields

Abstract
<p>The present work has investigated the configuration of field-aligned currents (FACs) during a long period of radial interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) on 19 May 2002 by using high-resolution and precise vector magnetic field measurements of CHAMP satellite. During the interest period IMF <em>B</em><sub><em>y</em></sub> and <em>B</em><sub><em>z</em></sub> are weakly positive and <em>B</em><sub><em>x</em></sub> keeps pointing to the Earth for almost 10 h. The geomagnetic indices <em>D</em><em>s</em><em>t</em> is about -40 nT and <em>AE</em> about 100 nT on average. The cross polar cap potential calculated from Assimilative Mapping of Ionospheric Electrodynamics and derived from DMSP observations have average values of 10\textendash20 kV. Obvious hemispheric differences are shown in the configurations of FACs on the dayside and nightside. At the south pole FACs diminish in intensity to magnitudes of about 0.1 μA/m<sup>2</sup>, the plasma convection maintains two-cell flow pattern, and the thermospheric density is quite low. However, there are obvious activities in the northern cusp region. One pair of FACs with a downward leg toward the pole and upward leg on the equatorward side emerge in the northern cusp region, exhibiting opposite polarity to FACs typical for duskward IMF orientation. An obvious sunward plasma flow channel persists during the whole period. These ionospheric features might be manifestations of an efficient magnetic reconnection process occurring in the northern magnetospheric flanks at high latitude. The enhanced ionospheric current systems might deposit large amount of Joule heating into the thermosphere. The air densities in the cusp region get enhanced and subsequently propagate equatorward on the dayside. Although geomagnetic indices during the radial IMF indicate low-level activity, the present study demonstrates that there are prevailing energy inputs from the magnetosphere to both the ionosphere and thermosphere in the northern polar cusp region.</p>
Year of Publication
2014
Journal
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume
119
Number of Pages
3979-3995
Date Published
05/2014
URL
http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/2014JA019951
DOI
10.1002/2014JA019951