Global UltraViolet Imager

Statistical relationship between large-scale upward field-aligned currents and electron precipitation

<p>Simultaneous observations of Birkeland currents by the constellation of Iridium satellites and N2 Lyman\textendashBirge\textendashHopfield (LBH) auroral emissions measured by the Global Ultraviolet Imager (GUVI) onboard the Thermosphere, Ionosphere, and Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite are used to establish relationships between large-scale upward field-aligned currents and electron precipitation during stable current configurations. The electron precipitation was inferred from GUVI data using a statistical relationship between LBH intensity and electron energy flux. LBH emissions with \&gt;5\% contribution from protons, identified by Lyman-alpha intensity, were excluded from the analysis. The Birkeland currents were derived with a spatial resolution of 3\textdegree in latitude and 2 h in local time. For southward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), the electron precipitation occurred primarily within and near large-scale upward currents. The correspondence was less evident for northward IMF, presumably because the spatial variability is large compared to the areas of interest so that the number of events identified is smaller and the derived statistical distributions are less reliable. At dusk, the correlation between upward current and precipitation was especially high, where a larger fraction of the electron precipitation is accelerated downward by a field-aligned potential difference. Unaccelerated electron precipitation dominated in the morning sector, presumably induced by scattering of eastward-drifting energetic electrons into the loss cone through interaction with whistler-mode waves (diffuse precipitation) rather than by field-aligned acceleration. In the upward Region 1 on the dayside, where electron precipitation is almost exclusively due to field-aligned acceleration, a quadratic relationship between current density and electron energy flux was observed, implying a linear current\textendashvoltage relationship in this region. Current density and electron energy flux in the regions of the large-scale upward currents from pre-midnight through dawn to noon are essentially uncorrelated consistent with a dominance of diffuse electron precipitation to the incident energy flux.</p>
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics