Fine structure of subauroral electric field and electron content

Roman A. Makarevich, W. A. Bristow

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9 Scopus citations


Small-scale structure of the plasma convection and electron content within the subauroral polarization stream (SAPS) is investigated. We present ionospheric observations during the main phase of the geomagnetic storm on 17 March 2013, during which a sequence of intense, highly localized, and fast-moving electric field (EF) structures within SAPS was observed by the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network Christmas Valley West (CVW) radar. The CVW EF measurements at 60 s resolution are analyzed in context of coincident GPS measurements of the total electron content (TEC) at 30 s resolution. The strong and narrow feature of the subauroral ion drift (SAID) was observed poleward of the TEC trough, with a TEC enhancement (peak) seen in the SAPS (SAID) region. The SAPS wave activity commenced ~2 h (15 min) after first appearance of SAPS (SAID). The SAPS structures appeared near the poleward edge of the trough, propagated westward, and merged with SAID near TEC peak. The propagation velocity was comparable with convection velocity within each EF structure. The SAPS TEC exhibited a general decrease toward the end of the period. On a smaller time scale, TEC exhibited a small but appreciable decrease within EF structures. The wavelet spectra of EF and TEC showed similar variations, with wave period of ~5 min period near onset and increasing to 8-10 min toward the end of the period with significant wave activity. A scenario is discussed, in which the SAPS wave activity may modify the ionospheric conductance and TEC at small scales, with large-scale magnetosphere-ionosphere feedback acting to continuously deplete TEC where/when such activity does not occur. Key Points Coincident SuperDARN/GPS observations of SAPS fine structure Similar wavelet spectra of SAPS electric field and electron content SAPS electron content decreases at both large and small scales

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3789-3802
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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