skip to main content

Title: How Well Can We Estimate Pedersen Conductance From the THEMIS White‐Light All‐Sky Cameras?

We show that a white‐light all‐sky imager can estimate Pedersen conductance with an uncertainty of 3 mho or 40%. Using a series of case studies over a wide range of geomagnetic activity, we compare estimates of Pedersen conductance from the backscatter spectrum of the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar with auroral intensities. We limit this comparison to an area bounding the radar measurements and within a limited area close to (but off) imager zenith. We confirm a linear relationship between conductance and the square root of auroral intensity predicted from a simple theoretical approximation. Hence, we extend a previous empirical result found for green‐line emissions to the case of white‐light off‐zenith emissions. The difference between the radar conductance and the best‐fit relationship has a mean of −0.76 ± 4.8 mho and a relative mean difference of 21% ± 78%. The uncertainties are reduced to −0.72 ± 3.3 mho and 0% ± 40% by averaging conductance over 10 min, which we attribute to the time that auroral features take to move across the imager field being greater than the 1‐min resolution of the radar data. Our results demonstrate and calibrate the use of Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms all‐sky imagers for estimating Pedersen conductance. This technique allows the more » extension of estimates of Pedersen conductance from Incoherent Scatter Radars to derive continental‐scale estimates on scales of ~1–10 min and ~100 km2. It thus complements estimates from low‐altitude satellites, satellite auroral imagers, and ground‐based magnetometers.

« less
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 2920-2934
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Recent attention has been given to mesoscale phenomena across geospace (∼10 s km to 500 km in the ionosphere or ∼0.5 R E to several R E in the magnetosphere), as their contributions to the system global response are important yet remain uncharacterized mostly due to limitations in data resolution and coverage as well as in computational power. As data and models improve, it becomes increasingly valuable to advance understanding of the role of mesoscale phenomena contributions—specifically, in magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. This paper describes a new method that utilizes the 2D array of Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) white-light all-sky-imagers (ASI), in conjunction with meridian scanning photometers, to estimate the auroral scale sizes of intense precipitating energy fluxes and the associated Hall conductances. As an example of the technique, we investigated the role of precipitated energy flux and average energy on mesoscales as contrasted to large-scales for two back-to-back substorms, finding that mesoscale aurora contributes up to ∼80% (∼60%) of the total energy flux immediately after onset during the early expansion phase of the first (second) substorm, and continues to contribute ∼30–55% throughout the remainder of the substorm. The average energy estimated from the ASI mosaic field ofmore »view also peaked during the initial expansion phase. Using the measured energy flux and tables produced from the Boltzmann Three Constituent (B3C) auroral transport code (Strickland et al., 1976; 1993), we also estimated the 2D Hall conductance and compared it to Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar conductance values, finding good agreement for both discrete and diffuse aurora.« less
  2. Abstract

    Field‐aligned currents from the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE) were combined with simultaneous and coincident observations of ionospheric conductivities made by the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR) in Alaska for 20 geomagnetically active days. The height‐integrated conductivities (conductances) were determined from the electron densities measured by the radar between 80 and 200 km altitude. Binning and averaging the data by field‐aligned current density and magnetic local time, we find that the currents correlate with conductances in both upward and downward current regions over some magnetic local times. The strongest correlation is seen in the late evening and morning sectors, with the Hall conductances two to three times larger than the Pedersen conductances for the same values of the field‐aligned current. The observed correlations reflect the mean energy of auroral precipitation, the contributions from electrons and protons to producing enhanced conductances, and the availability of charge carriers on auroral field lines. We apply linear fitting and smoothing to the correlations to construct an empirical model for specifying auroral conductances globally from AMPERE field‐aligned current maps. The energy fluxes from precipitating particles derived from the model conductances compare well with those derived using AMPERE data combined with satellite‐basedmore »measurements of far ultraviolet emissions, suggesting the results obtained at Poker Flat may be applicable to all high latitude locations. The ability to estimate conductances from AMPERE field‐aligned current maps provides the means to develop a global conductance model for the auroral ionosphere.

    « less
  3. Abstract

    During magnetospheric substorms, high‐latitude ionospheric plasma convection is known to change dramatically. How upper thermospheric winds change, however, has not been well understood, and conflicting conclusions have been reported. Here, we study the effect of substorms on high‐latitude upper thermospheric winds by taking advantage of a chain of scanning Doppler imagers (SDIs), THEMIS all‐sky imagers (ASIs), and the Poker Flat incoherent scatter radar (PFISR). SDIs provide mosaics of wind dynamics in response to substorms in two dimensions in space and as a function of time, while ASIs and PFISR concurrently monitor auroral emissions and ionospheric parameters. During the substorm growth phase, the classical two‐cell global circulation of neutral winds intensifies. After substorm onset, the zonal component of these winds is strongly suppressed in the midnight sector, whereas away from the midnight sector two‐cell circulation of winds is enhanced. Both pre and postonset enhancements are ≥100 m/s above the quiet‐time value, and postonset enhancement occurs over a broader latitude and local‐time area than preonset enhancement. The meridional wind component in the midnight and postmidnight sectors is accelerated southward to subauroral latitudes. Our findings suggest that substorms significantly modify the upper‐thermospheric wind circulation by changing the wind direction and speed and thereforemore »are important for the entire magnetosphere‐ionosphere‐thermosphere system.

    « less
  4. Abstract

    Stable auroral red (SAR) arcs provide opportunities to study inner magnetosphere‐ionosphere coupling at midlatitudes. An imaging system at a single‐site obtains evidence of seasonal variations in SAR arc brightness and occurrence rates using events widely separated in time, as observed during different geomagnetic storms. The first SAR arc observed using two all‐sky imagers at geomagnetic conjugate points described seasonal effects at the same time for the same storm (Martinis, Mendillo, et al., 2019, Here we report on modeling studies that enable specification of the roles of local “receptor conditions” in each hemisphere, plus the division of driving energy from a single source region into conjugate ionospheres. The geomagnetic storm of 1 June 2013 produced SAR arcs observed by conjugate all‐sky imagers yielding 73 Rayleighs (R) at Millstone Hill (L= 2.64) in the summer hemisphere, and 300 R during local winter at Rothera (L= 2.92). With incoherent scatter radar data not available to specify input conditions, we offer a new simulation approach using non‐incoherent scatter radar observations to specify local receptor conditions. These include a combination of semiempirical models (International Reference Ionosphere and MSIS) calibrated by local ionosonde and DMSP satellite data. We find that the driving mechanism (heatmore »conduction entering the ionosphere) is not an equal partition of energy from the ring current source region, but one that is weaker in the summer hemisphere where the local receptor conditions are poised to produce fainter SAR arcs. The relationship between SAR arcs and recently discovered STEVE events are discussed and require further study.

    « less
  5. Abstract

    Following substorm auroral onset, the active aurora region usually expands poleward toward the poleward auroral boundary. Such poleward expansion is often associated with a bulge region that expands westward and forms the westward travelling surge. In this study, we show all‐sky imager and Poker Flat Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar observations of two surge events to investigate the relationship between the surge and ionospheric flows that likely have polar cap origin. For both events, we observe auroral streamers, with an adjacent flow channel consisting of decreased density and low electron temperature plasma flowing equatorward. This flow channel appears to impinge and lead/feed surge formation, and to stay connected to the surge as it moves westward. Also, for both events, streamer observations indicate that, following initial surge development, similar flows led to explosive surge enhancements. The observation that the streamers are connected to the auroral polar boundary and that the flow channels consisted of low density, low electron temperature plasma suggests the possibility that the impinging plasma came from the polar cap. For both events, the altitude variations of F region plasma within the surges are related with aurora emission and the poleward/equatorward flow, and the surges develop strong auroralmore »streamers that initiate along the poleward auroral boundary when contacted with the flow. These results suggest that the flow of polar cap origin, which maps to underlying processes in the magnetotail, may play a crucial role in auroral surges by feeding low entropy plasma into surge initiation and development, and also playing an important role in the dynamics within a surge.

    « less