The role of diffuse electron precipitation in the formation of subauroral polarization streams (SAPS) is investigated with the Multiscale Atmosphere‐Geospace Environment (MAGE) model. Diffuse precipitation is derived from the distribution of drifting electrons. SAPS manifest themselves as a separate mesoscale flow channel in the duskside ionosphere, which gradually merges with the primary auroral convection toward dayside as the equatorward auroral boundary approaches the poleward Region‐2 field‐aligned currents (FACs) boundary. SAPS expand to lower latitudes and toward the nightside during the main phase of a geomagnetic storm, associated with magnetotail earthward plasma flows building up the ring current and intensifying Region‐2 FACs and electron precipitation. SAPS shrink poleward and sunward as the interplanetary magnetic field turns northward. When diffuse precipitation is turned off in a controlled MAGE simulation, ring current and duskside Region‐2 FACs become weaker, but subauroral zonal ion drifts are still comparable to auroral convection. However, subauroral and auroral convection manifest as a single broad flow channel without showing any mesoscale structure. SAPS overlap with the downward Region‐2 FACs equatorward of diffuse precipitation, where poleward electric fields are strong due to a low conductance in the subauroral ionosphere. The Region‐2 FACs extend to latitudes lower than the diffuse precipitation because the ring current protons penetrate closer to the Earth than the electrons do. This study reproduces the key physics of SAPS formation and their evolution in the coupled magnetosphere‐ionosphere during a geomagnetic storm. Diffuse electron precipitation is demonstrated to play a critical role in determining SAPS location and structure.
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We report the first observations of the association between equatorward extending streamers and overshielding using the THEMIS all‐sky imagers and ground magnetometers. Because auroral streamers indicate plasma sheet flow bursts, these observations uncover the effect of flow bursts on overshielding. Results show that, in general, bright equatorward extended streamers were associated with an increase in equatorial electrojet (EEJ) on the nightside and a decrease in the dayside EEJ, indicating a striking correspondence between auroral streamers and overshielding conditions. Thus, the driving of overshielding at equatorial latitudes can be identified via bright equatorward extended streamers, indicating that flow bursts are an alternate means to discern the earthward injections that increase the region 2 field aligned currents and associated overshielding electric fields. Repetitive auroral streamers were associated with repetitive overshielding, resulting in a stepwise development of the dayside and nightside EEJ. The stepwise intensifications were also observed in the midlatitude positive bay and Pi2 pulsations. Our results could explain the occurrence of overshielding conditions at equatorial latitudes during substorms and nonsubstorm times without a northward turning of IMF‐Bz. As seen through streamers, the localized current structures (wedgelets) associated with flow bursts giving injection that leads to overshielding is titled northeast‐to‐southwest. Our results add a new element to the understanding of high‐to‐low latitude electrodynamical coupling by demonstrating the association between bright equatorward extended auroral streamers and enhanced shielding electric fields caused by earthward injections associated with flow bursts.more » « less
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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