skip to main content

Title: Auroral, Ionospheric and Ground Magnetic Signatures of Magnetopause Surface Modes

Surface waves on Earth's magnetopause have a controlling effect upon global magnetospheric dynamics. Since spacecraft provide sparse in situ observation points, remote sensing these modes using ground‐based instruments in the polar regions is desirable. However, many open conceptual questions on the expected signatures remain. Therefore, we provide predictions of key qualitative features expected in auroral, ionospheric, and ground magnetic observations through both magnetohydrodynamic theory and a global coupled magnetosphere‐ionosphere simulation of a magnetopause surface eigenmode. These show monochromatic oscillatory field‐aligned currents (FACs), due to both the surface mode and its non‐resonant Alfvén coupling, are present throughout the magnetosphere. The currents peak in amplitude at the equatorward edge of the magnetopause boundary layer, not the open‐closed boundary as previously thought. They also exhibit slow poleward phase motion rather than being purely evanescent. We suggest the upward FAC perturbations may result in periodic auroral brightenings. In the ionosphere, convection vortices circulate the poleward moving FAC structures. Finally, surface mode signals are predicted in the ground magnetic field, with ionospheric Hall currents rotating perturbations by approximately (but not exactly) 90° compared to the magnetosphere. Thus typical dayside magnetopause surface modes should be strongest in the East‐West ground magnetic field component. Overall, all ground‐based signatures of the magnetopause surface mode are predicted to have the same frequency acrossL‐shells, amplitudes that maximize near the magnetopause's equatorward edge, and larger latitudinal scales than for field line resonance. Implications in terms of ionospheric Joule heating and geomagnetically induced currents are discussed.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. null (Ed.)
    Abstract. The high-latitude atmosphere is a dynamic region with processes that respond to forcing from the Sun, magnetosphere, neutral atmosphere, andionosphere. Historically, the dominance of magnetosphere–ionosphere interactions has motivated upper atmospheric studies to use magneticcoordinates when examining magnetosphere–ionosphere–thermosphere coupling processes. However, there are significant differences between thedominant interactions within the polar cap, auroral oval, and equatorward of the auroral oval. Organising data relative to these boundaries hasbeen shown to improve climatological and statistical studies, but the process of doing so is complicated by the shifting nature of the auroral ovaland the difficulty in measuring its poleward and equatorward boundaries. This study presents a new set of open–closed magnetic field line boundaries (OCBs) obtained from Active Magnetosphere and Planetary ElectrodynamicsResponse Experiment (AMPERE) magnetic perturbation data. AMPERE observations of field-aligned currents (FACs) are used to determine the location ofthe boundary between the Region 1 (R1) and Region 2 (R2) FAC systems. This current boundary is thought to typically lie a few degrees equatorwardof the OCB, making it a good candidate for obtaining OCB locations. The AMPERE R1–R2 boundaries are compared to the Defense MeteorologicalSatellite Program Special Sensor J (DMSP SSJ) electron energy flux boundaries to test this hypothesis and determine the best estimate of thesystematic offset between the R1–R2 boundary and the OCB as a function of magnetic local time. These calibrated boundaries, as well as OCBsobtained from the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) observations, are validated using simultaneous observations of theconvection reversal boundary measured by DMSP. The validation shows that the OCBs from IMAGE and AMPERE may be used together in statisticalstudies, providing the basis of a long-term data set that can be used to separate observations originating inside and outside of the polar cap. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Pc5 ultralow frequency waves are important for transferring energy between the magnetosphere and ionosphere. While many observations have been performed on Pc5 waves properties, it has been difficult to determine the source region, signal propagation path, and the two‐dimensional structure of Pc5 waves beyond coverage by a small number of satellites. Pc5 waves often show a dawn‐dusk asymmetry, but the cause of the asymmetry is under debate. To address these issues, we used conjunction events between the THEMIS satellites and all‐sky imagers and analyzed two Pc5 wave events that were stronger on the dawnside. For both events, the Pc5 waves propagated from dawnside magnetopause toward the nightside magnetosphere. The Pc5 waves were also associated with dawnside magnetopause surface waves, which were probably induced by the Kelvin‐Helmholtz instability. The ionospheric equivalent currents identified multiple vortices on the dawnside associated with quasi‐periodic auroral arcs and much weaker perturbations on the duskside. Global auroral imaging also presented a similar dawn‐dusk asymmetry with multiple arcs on the dawnside, while only one or two major arcs existed on the duskside. Pc5 waves in the magnetosphere had an anti‐phase relation between the total magnetic field and thermal pressure, with a slower propagation velocity compared with magnetohydrodynamic waves. The Poynting flux was anti‐sunward with an oscillating field‐aligned component. These properties suggest that Pc5 waves were slow or drift mirror mode waves coupled with standing Alfven waves. The ground‐based and multi‐satellite observations provide crucial information for determining the Pc5 waves properties, possible source region, and signal propagation path.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Geomagnetic pulsations in Pc5‐6 band (~3–20 min) are persistent feature of ULF activity at dayside high latitudes. Magnetopause surface eigenmodes may be suggested as potential mechanism of these pulsations. One might expect the ground response of these modes to be near ionospheric projection of the open‐closed field line boundary (OCB). Using data from instruments located at Svalbard we study transient geomagnetic response to impulsive “intrusion” of magnetosheath plasma into the dayside magnetosphere. These intrusions are triggered by modest changes of interplanetary magnetic field to southward, and observed as sudden shifts of equatorward red aurora boundary to lower latitudes and green line emission intensification. Each auroral disturbance is accompanied by burst of ~1.7–2.0‐mHz geomagnetic pulsations. Near‐cusp latitudinal structure of ULF pulsations is compared with instant location of equatorward boundary of the red aurora, assumed to be a proxy of the OCB. Optical OCB latitude has been identified using data from the meridian scanning photometer. The latitudinal maximum of the transient geomagnetic response tends to be located near disturbed OCB proxy, within the error ~1°–2° of the photometer and magnetometer methods. Recorded transient pulsations may be associated with the ground image of the magnetopause surface mode harmonic. Theoretical consideration indicates that after an initial excitation, surface large‐scale mode converts into localized Alfvén oscillations and thus can exist for limited time only. Therefore, MHD surface modes in realistic inhomogeneous plasma cannot be considered in isolation, but as a combined system of modes with discrete and continuous spectra with irreversible transformation between them.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    We propose a mechanism for the formation of the horse‐collar auroral configuration during periods of strongly northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), invoking the action of dual‐lobe reconnection (DLR). Auroral observations are provided by the Imager for Magnetopause‐to‐Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) satellite and spacecraft of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). We also use ionospheric flow measurements from DMSP and polar maps of field‐aligned currents (FACs) derived from the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE). Sunward convection is observed within the dark polar cap, with antisunward flows within the horse‐collar auroral region, together with the NBZ FAC distribution expected to be associated with DLR. We suggest that newly closed flux is transported antisunward and to dawn and dusk within the reverse lobe cell convection pattern associated with DLR, causing the polar cap to acquire a teardrop shape and weak auroras to form at high latitudes. Horse‐collar auroras are a common feature of the quiet magnetosphere, and this model provides a first understanding of their formation, resolving several outstanding questions regarding the nature of DLR and the magnetospheric structure and dynamics during northward IMF. The model can also provide insights into the trapping of solar wind plasma by the magnetosphere and the formation of a low‐latitude boundary layer and cold, dense plasma sheet. We speculate that prolonged DLR could lead to a fully closed magnetosphere, with the formation of horse‐collar auroras being an intermediate step.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Polar cap ionospheric plasma flow studies often focus on large‐scale averaged properties and neglect the mesoscale component. However, recent studies have shown that mesoscale flows are often found to be collocated with airglow patches. These mesoscale flows are typically a few hundred meters per second faster than the large‐scale background and are associated with major auroral intensifications when they reach the poleward boundary of the nightside auroral oval. Patches often also contain ionospheric signatures of enhanced field‐aligned currents and localized electron flux enhancements, indicating that patches are associated with magnetosphere‐ionosphere coupling on open field lines. However, magnetospheric measurements of this coupling are lacking, and it has not been understood what the magnetospheric signatures of patches on open field lines are. The work presented here explores the magnetospheric counterpart of patches and the role these structures have in plasma transport across the open field‐line region in the magnetosphere. Using red‐line emission measurements from the Resolute Bay Optical Mesosphere Thermosphere Imager, and magnetospheric measurements made by the Cluster spacecraft, conjugate events from 2005 to 2009 show that lobe measurements on field lines connected to patches display (1) electric field enhancements, (2) Region 1 sense field‐aligned currents, (3) field‐aligned enhancements in soft electron flux, (4) downward Poynting fluxes, and (5) in some cases enhancements in ion flux, including ion outflows. These observations indicate that patches highlight a localized fast flow channel system that is driven by the magnetosphere and propagates from the dayside to the nightside, most likely being initiated by enhanced localized dayside reconnection.

    more » « less