Direct Connection Between Auroral Oval Streamers/Flow Channels and Equatorward Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances

Larry R. Lyons, Yukitoshi Nishimura, Shunrong Zhang, Anthea Coster, Jiang Liu, William A. Bristow, Ashton S. Reimer, Roger H. Varney, Don L. Hampton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We use simultaneous auroral imaging, radar flows, and total electron content (TEC) measurements over Alaska to examine whether there is a direct connection of large-scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (LSTIDs) to auroral streamers and associated flow channels having significant ground magnetic decreases. Observations from seven nights with clearly observable flow channels and/or auroral streamers were selected for analysis. Auroral observations allow identification of streamers, and TEC observations detect ionization enhancements associated with streamer electron precipitation. Radar observations allow direct detection of flow channels. The TEC observations show direct connection of streamers to TIDs propagating equatorward from the equatorward boundary of the auroral oval. The TIDs are also distinguished from the streamers to which they connect by their wave-like TEC fluctuations moving more slowly equatorward than the TEC enhancements from streamer electron precipitation. TIDs previously observed propagating equatorward from the auroral oval have been identified as LSTIDs. Thus, the TIDs here are likely LSTIDs, but we lack sufficient TEC coverage necessary to demonstrate that they are indeed large scale. Furthermore, each of our events shows TID’s connection to groups of a few streamers and flow channels over a period in the order of 15 min and a longitude range of ∼15–20°, and not to single streamers. (Groups of streamers are common during substorms. However, it is not currently known if streamers and associated flow channels typically occur in such groups.) We also find evidence that a flow channel must lead to a sufficiently large ionospheric current for it to lead to a detectable LSTID, with a few tens of nT ground magnetic field decreases not being sufficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number738507
JournalFrontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences
StatePublished - Oct 21 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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