The excitation of plasma convection in the high-latitude ionosphere
Lockwood, M., Cowley, S. W. H. and Freeman, M. P. (1990) The excitation of plasma convection in the high-latitude ionosphere. Journal of Geophysical Research, 95 (A6). pp. 7961-7972. ISSN 0148-0227
To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/JA095iA06p07961
Recent observations of ionospheric flows by ground-based radars, in particular by the European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) facility using the “Polar” experiment, together with previous analyses of the response of geomagnetic disturbance to variations of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), suggest that convection in the high-latitude ionosphere should be considered to be the sum of two intrinsically time-dependent patterns, one driven by solar wind-magnetosphere coupling at the dayside magnetopause, the other by the release of energy in the geomagnetic tail (mainly by dayside and nightside reconnection, respectively). The flows driven by dayside coupling are largest on the dayside, where they usually dominate, are associated with an expanding polar cap area, and are excited and decay on ∼10-min time scales following southward and northward turnings of the IMF, respectively. The latter finding indicates that the production of new open flux at the dayside magnetopause excites magnetospheric and ionospheric flow only for a short interval, ∼10 min, such that the flow driven by this source subsequently decays on this time scale unless maintained by the production of more open flux tubes. Correspondingly, the flows excited by the release of energy in the tail, mainly during substorms, are largest on the nightside, are associated with a contracting polar cap boundary, and are excited on ∼1-hour time scales following a southward turn of the IMF. In general, the total ionospheric flow will be the sum of the flows produced by these two sources, such that due to their different response times to changes in the IMF, considerable variations in the flow pattern can occur for a given direction and strength of the IMF. Consequently, the ionospheric electric field cannot generally be regarded as arising from a simple mapping of the solar wind electric field along open flux tubes.