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Journal ArticleDOI

On determining the noon polar cap boundary from SuperDARN HF radar backscatter characteristics

31 Dec 2000-Annales Geophysicae (Copernicus GmbH)-Vol. 18, Iss: 12, pp 1523-1530

AbstractPrevious work has shown that ionospheric HF radar backscatter in the noon sector can be used to locate the footprint of the magnetospheric cusp particle precipitation. This has enabled the radar data to be used as a proxy for the location of the polar cap boundary, and hence measure the flow of plasma across it to derive the reconnection electric field in the ionosphere. This work used only single radar data sets with a field of view limited to ∼2 h of local time. In this case study using four of the SuperDARN radars, we examine the boundary determined over 6 h of magnetic local time around the noon sector and its relationship to the convection pattern. The variation with longitude of the latitude of the radar scatter with cusp characteristics shows a bay-like feature. It is shown that this feature is shaped by the variation with longitude of the poleward flow component of the ionospheric plasma and may be understood in terms of cusp ion time-of-flight effects. Using this interpretation, we derive the time-of-flight of the cusp ions and find that it is consistent with approximately 1 keV ions injected from a subsolar reconnection site. A method for deriving a more accurate estimate of the location of the open-closed field line boundary from HF radar data is described.

Topics: Radar (57%), Noon (56%), Field line (54%), Ionosphere (51%), Local time (51%)

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Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: This study employs observations from several sources to determine the location of the polar cap bound- ary, or open/closed field line boundary, at all local times, allowing the amount of open flux in the magnetosphere to be quantified. These data sources include global auroral im- ages from the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI) instrument on board the Polar spacecraft, SuperDARN HF radar measurements of the convection flow, and low altitude particle measurements from Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites, and the Fast Auroral SnapshoT (FAST) spacecraft. Changes in the open flux content of the mag- netosphere are related to the rate of magnetic reconnection occurring at the magnetopause and in the magnetotail, al- lowing us to estimate the day- and nightside reconnection voltages during two substorm cycles. Specifically, increases in the polar cap area are found to be consistent with open flux being created when the IMF is oriented southwards and low-latitude magnetopause reconnection is ongoing, and de- creases in area correspond to open flux being destroyed at substorm breakup. The polar cap area can continue to de- crease for 100 min following the onset of substorm breakup, continuing even after substorm-associated auroral features have died away. An estimate of the dayside reconnection voltage, determined from plasma drift measurements in the ionosphere, indicates that reconnection can take place at all local times along the dayside portion of the polar cap bound- ary, and hence presumably across the majority of the dayside magnetopause. The observation of ionospheric signatures of bursty reconnection over a wide extent of local times sup- ports this finding.

190 citations


Cites background or methods from "On determining the noon polar cap b..."

  • ...Pinnock and Rodger (2001) had four radars at their disposal, and consequently, a greater proportion of the merging gap was imaged....

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  • ...On the dayside, Baker et al. (1997) and Pinnock and Rodger (2001) used SuperDARN observations to estimate the dayside reconnection voltage, employing the spectral width boundary as an estimate of the location of the OCB....

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Journal ArticleDOI
01 Jan 2007
Abstract: [1] Changes in the open flux content of the ionospheric polar cap, estimated from auroral, radar, and low-Earth orbit particle measurements, are used to determine dayside and nightside reconnection rates during 73 hours of observation spread over nine intervals. We identify 25 episodes of nightside reconnection and examine statistically the rates and durations of reconnection, as well as possible triggers for the onset of reconnection, such as changes in solar wind ram pressure or orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field. Approximately half of the events can possibly be identified with a trigger, the other half appearing spontaneous. On average 0.3 GWb of open flux are closed in each event, with average durations and reconnection rates being 70 min and 85 kV. We find no evidence for a low background rate of nightside reconnection between these events and conclude that substorms and other large reconnection bursts provide the major or only source of flux closure on the nightside.

147 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: The climatology map of the GPS phase scintillation identifies two regions of high scintillation occurrences: around magnetic noon and around magnetic midnight. The scintillation occurrence rate is higher around noon, while the scintillation level is stronger around magnetic midnight. This paper focuses on the dayside scintillation region. In order to resolve the role of the cusp auroral processes in the production of irregularities, we put the GPS phase scintillation in the context of the observed auroral morphology. Results show that the occurrence rate of the GPS phase scintillation is highest inside the auroral cusp, regardless of the scintillation strength and the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). On average, the scintillation occurrence rate in the cusp region is about 5 times as high as in the region immediately poleward of it. The scintillation occurrence rate is higher when the IMF Bz is negative. When partitioning the scintillation data by the IMF By, the distribution of the scintillation occurrence rate around magnetic noon is similar to that of the poleward moving auroral form (PMAF): there is a higher occurrence rate at earlier (later) magnetic local time when the IMF By is positive (negative). This indicates that the irregularities which give rise to scintillations follow the IMF By-controlled east-west motion of the aurora and plasma. Furthermore, the scintillation occurrence rate is higher when IMF By is positive when the cusp is shifted toward the post noon sector where it may get easier access to the higher density plasma. This suggests that the combined auroral activities (e.g., PMAF) and the density of the intake solar EUV ionized plasma are crucial for the production of scintillations.

59 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: . Accurately measuring the location and motion of the polar cap boundary (PCB) in the high-latitude ionosphere can be crucial for studies concerned with the dynamics of the polar cap, e.g. the measurement of reconnection rates. The Doppler spectral width characteristics of backscatter received by the SuperDARN HF radars have been previously used for locating and tracking the PCB in the cusp region. The boundary is generally observed in meridional beams of the SuperDARN radars and appears as a distinct change between low spectral width values observed equatorward of the cusp region, and high, but variable spectral width values observed within the cusp region. To identify the spectral width boundary (SWB) between these two regions, a simple algorithm employing a spectral width threshold has often been applied to the data. However, there is not, as yet, a standard algorithm, or spectral width threshold, which is universally applied. Nor has there been any rigorous assessment of the accuracy of this method of boundary determination. This study applies a series of threshold algorithms to a simulated cusp-region spectral width data set, to assess the accuracy of different algorithms. This shows that simple threshold algorithms correctly identify the boundary location in, at the most, 50% of the cases and that the average boundary error is at least ~ 1–2 range gates (~ 1° latitude). It transpires that spatial and temporal smoothing of the spectral width data (e.g. by median filtering), before application of a threshold algorithm can increase the boundary determination accuracy to over 95% and the average boundary error to much less than a range gate. However, this is sometimes at the cost of temporal resolution in the motion of the boundary location. The algorithms are also applied to a year’s worth of spectral width data from the cusp ionosphere, measured by the Halley SuperDARN radar in Antarctica. This analysis highlights the increased accuracy of the enhanced boundary determination algorithm in the cusp region. Away from the cusp, the resulting SWB locations are often dependent on the choice of threshold. This suggests that there is not a sharp latitudinal SWB in regions of the dayside ionosphere away from the cusp, but that there is a shallower latitudinal gradient in spectral width near the boundary location. Key words. Ionosphere (instruments and techniques) – Magnetospheric physics (magnetopause, cusp and boundary layers; magnetosphere-ionosphere interactions)

48 citations


Cites background or methods from "On determining the noon polar cap b..."

  • ...This is the general approach used by Baker et al. (1997), Pinnock et al. (1999), Pinnock and Rodger (2001), and Chisham et al. (2001)....

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  • ...Pinnock and Rodger (2001) excluded all backscatter with spectral widths less than 150 m/s from a composite of scans from 4 SuperDARN radars and then smoothed the remaining equatorward backscatter boundary to obtain their estimate of the boundary....

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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: . In this paper we present the first statistical study on auroral oval boundaries derived from small- and medium-scale field-aligned currents (FACs,

47 citations


Cites background from "On determining the noon polar cap b..."

  • ...The boundaries of the auroral oval can be determined locally by ground-based observations such as radars (Pinnock and Rodger, 2000; Moen et al., 2004; Aikio et al., 2006) or low-altitude satellite observations (Newell et al., 1996; Wang et al., 2005), while optical imagers from high-altitude…...

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References
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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Empirical data-based models of the magnetosphereic magnetic field have been widely used during recent years. However, the existing models (Tsyganenko, 1987, 1989a) have three serious deficiencies: (1) an unstable de facto magnetopause, (2) a crude parametrization by the K(sub p) index, and (3) inaccuracies in the equatorial magnetotail B(sub z) values. This paper describes a new approach to the problem; the essential new features are (1) a realistic shape and size of the magnetopause, based on fits to a large number of observed crossing (allowing a parametrization by the solar wind pressure), (2) fully controlled shielding of the magnetic field produced by all magnetospheric current systems, (3) new flexible representations for the tail and ring currents, and (4) a new directional criterion for fitting the model field to spacecraft data, providing improved accuracy for field line mapping. Results are presented from initial efforts to create models assembled from these modules and calibrated against spacecraft data sets.

903 citations


"On determining the noon polar cap b..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...…the IMF) and that they transit a ®eld-aligned distance of 13 Re to reach the ionosphere (obtained from the Tsyganenko 96 magnetospheric ®eld model (Tsyganenko, 1995)) then the cusp ion transit times derived above correspond to ions with energies ranging between 3.6 keV (100 s) and 900 eV (200…...

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  • ...…the IMF) and that they transit a ®eld-aligned distance of 13 Re to reach the ionosphere (obtained from the Tsyganenko 96 magnetospheric ®eld model (Tsyganenko, 1995)) then the cusp ion transit times derived above correspond to ions with energies ranging between 3.6 keV (100 s) and 900 eV (200 s)....

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Journal Article
Abstract: Basic concepts of the form of high-latitude ionospheric flows and their excitation and decay are discussed in the light of recent high time-resolution measurements made by ground-based radars. It is first pointed out that it is in principle impossible to adequately parameterize these flows by any single quantity derived from concurrent interplanetary conditions. Rather, even at its simplest, the flow must be considered to consist of two basic time-dependent components. The first is the flow driven by magnetopause coupling processes alone, principally by dayside reconnection. These flows may indeed be reasonably parameterized in terms of concurrent near-Earth interplanetary conditions, principally by the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) vector. The second is the flow driven by tail reconnection alone. As a first approximation these flows may also be parameterized in terms of interplanetary conditions, principally the north-south component of the IMF, but with a delay in the flow response of around 30-60 min relative to the IMF. A delay in the tail response of this order must be present due to the finite speed of information propagation in the system, and we show how "growth" and "decay" of the field and flow configuration then follow as natural consequences. To discuss the excitation and decay of the two reconnection-driven components of the flow we introduce that concept of a flow-free equilibrium configuration for a magnetosphere which contains a given (arbitrary) amount of open flux. Reconnection events act either to create or destroy open flux, thus causing departures of the system from the equilibrium configuration. Flow is then excited which moves the system back towards equilibrium with the changed amount of open flux. We estimate that the overall time scale associated with the excitation and decay of the flow is about 15 min. The response of the system to both impulsive (flux transfer event) and continuous reconnection is discussed in these terms.

591 citations


"On determining the noon polar cap b..." refers background in this paper

  • ...The three arrows mark the times of ¯ow transients in the ionosphere (discussed in the text) account of the dynamics of the OCB associated with the reconnection process, such as have been suggested by Cowley and Lockwood (1992)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Particles of roughly magnetosheath energies precipitate at low altitudes throughout the dayside, in a band referred to as the cusp or cleft. Recently it has been suggested that the cusp proper is a more limited region of the cleft localized near noon, although the criteria for distinguishing between the two regions have been unclear. An investigation into the distinction between the low-altitude cusp and the cleft (with the latter herein identified as the ionospheric signature of the low-latitude boundary layer (LLBL)) was performed on both a statistical and a case study basis. One year of DMSP F7 electron and ion data, comprising in all 5609 individual dayside passes, was employed. It was found that the average energy of precipitating particles allows for a clear morphological distinction between the cusp proper and the cleft/LLBL. Often both regions are observed on a given pass at the same MLT, each with its own characteristic properties. The probability of observing the cusp was found to be sharply peaked at 1200 MLT, while the probability of observing the cleft/LLBL was near unity away from noon and had a minimum at noon. The cusp was found to be 0.8°–1.1° magnetic latitude (MLAT) thick essentially independent of MLT, whereas the cleft was thinnest at noon and widened rapidly at local times away from noon. The ion number flux in the cusp was statistically 3.6 times higher than in the cleft. The peak flux within the cusp was located on average closer to the equatorward than to the poleward boundary. Yearly average composite spectrograms of precipitation in the two regions as a function of local time show that the properties of the cusp change comparatively little with local time, but that the peak ion energy flux in the cleft increases smoothly from roughly magnetosheath values close to noon to about plasma sheet boundary layer values near 0600 MLT.

391 citations


"On determining the noon polar cap b..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...The ion energies derived compare favourably with those observed in the low-altitude cusp by DMSP satellite (see e.g. Newell and Meng, 1988), the higher energies being close to those often observed at the equatorward edge of the cusp particle precipitation (Newell and Meng, 1991, see their Fig....

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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Continuous ground-based observations of ionospheric and magnetospheric regions are critical to the Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) program. It is therefore important to establish clear intercalibrations between different ground-based instruments and satellites in order to clearly place the ground-based observations in context with the corresponding in situ satellite measurements. HF-radars operating at high latitudes are capable of observing very large spatial regions of the ionosphere on a nearly continuous basis. In this paper we report on an intercalibration study made using the Polar Anglo-American Conjugate Radar Experiment radars located at Goose Bay, Labrador, and Halley Station, Antarctica, and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites. The DMSP satellite data are used to provide clear identifications of the ionospheric cusp and the low-latitude boundary layer (LLBL). The radar data for eight cusp events and eight LLBL events have been examined in order to determine a radar signature of these ionospheric regions. This intercalibration indicates that the cusp is always characterized by wide, complex Doppler power spectra, whereas the LLBL is usually found to have spectra dominated by a single component. The distribution of spectral widths in the cusp is of a generally Gaussian form with a peak at about 220 m/s. The distribution of spectral widths in the LLBL is more like an exponential distribution, with the peak of the distribution occurring at about 50 m/s. There are a few cases in the LLBL where the Doppler power spectra are strikingly similar to those observed in the cusp.

224 citations


"On determining the noon polar cap b..." refers background or methods in this paper

  • ...The results rearm the intimate link between radar scatter showing the characteristics de®ned in Baker et al. (1995) and the cusp particle precipitation and must be taken in to account when the radar scatter is used as a proxy for the open/ closed ®eld line boundary (e.g. Baker et al., 1997;…...

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  • ...Rather the technique has been employed to provide further evidence for the link between HF radar backscatter characteristics and cusp particle precipitation (Baker et al., 1995) and to understand the morphology of the high spectral width boundary around noon....

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  • ...The location of HF radar backscatter showing characteristics of the cusp (Baker et al., 1995) shows a poleward bay around the noon region....

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  • ...This is consistent with the equatorward edge of the high spectral width region mapping to the equatorward edge of the cusp particle precipitation (Baker et al., 1990, 1995) and the sharp increase in Pc1 wave activity associated with the equatorward edge of the cusp particle precipitation (e.g.…...

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  • ...…cusp particle precipitation into the ionosphere and HF radar backscatter from the ionospheric F region has been reported on by a number of workers (Baker et al., 1990, 1995; Rodger et al., 1995; Yeoman et al., 1997; Milan et al., 1999) and has been used as an alternative means of determining the…...

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Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Transient or patchy magnetic field line merging on the dayside magnetopause, giving rise to flux transfer events (FTEs), is thought to play a significant role in energizing high-latitude ionospheric convection during periods of southward interplanetary magnetic field. Several transient velocity patterns in the cusp ionosphere have been presented as candidate FTE signatures. Instrument limitations, combined with uncertainties about the magnetopause processes causing individual velocity transients, mean that definitive observations of the ionospheric signature of FTEs have yet to be presented. This paper describes combined observations by the PACE HF backscatter radar and the DMSP F9 polar-orbiting satellite of a transient velocity signature in the southern hemisphere ionospheric cusp. The prevailing solar wind conditions suggest that it is the result of enhanced magnetic merging at the magnetopause. The satellite particle precipitation data associated with the transient are typically cusplike in nature. The presence of spatially discrete patches of accelerated ions at the equatorward edge of the cusp is consistent with the ion acceleration that could occur with merging. The combined radar line-of-sight velocity data and the satellite transverse plasma drift data are consistent with a channel of enhanced convection superposed on the ambient cusp plasma flow. This channel is at least 900 km in longitudinal extent but only 100 km wide. It is zonally aligned for most of its extent, except at the western limit where it rotates sharply poleward. Weak return flow is observed outside the channel. These observations are compared with and contrasted to similar events seen by the EISCAT radar and by optical instruments.

168 citations


"On determining the noon polar cap b..." refers background in this paper

  • ...The two arrows marked``FCE'' are at the times that ¯ow channel events, possible ¯ux transfer event (FTE) signatures (Pinnock et al., 1993 ), are observed whilst the third arrow is at the time that the IMF changed, returning back to a By dominated regime....

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