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  1. Pulsating aurora are common diffuse-like aurora. Studies have suggested that they contain higher energy particles than other types and are possibly linked to substorm activity. There has yet to be a quantitative statistical study of the variation in pulsating aurora energy content related to substorms. We analyzed the inverted energy content from 53 events using the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar. To reduce the uncertainty, we split the differential energy flux into low and high energy using the limit of 30 keV. We also analyzed the lower altitude boundary of the electron density profile, characterized by a number density of > 1 0 10 m −3 , and used this as a proxy for high energy. We compared both of these to magnetic local time (MLT), AE index, and temporal proximity to substorm onset. There was a slight trend in MLT, but a much stronger one in relation to both substorm onset and AE index. For higher AE and closer to onset the total energy flux and flux above 30 keV increased. In addition, this higher energy remained enhanced for an hour after substorm onset. Our results confirm the high energy nature of pulsating aurora, demonstrate the connection to substorms, and implymore »their importance to coupling between the magnetosphere and atmosphere.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 8, 2023
  2. 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 notmore »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.« less
  3. 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
  4. Abstract

    Joule heating deposits a significant amount of energy into the high‐latitude ionosphere and is an important factor in many magnetosphere‐ionosphere‐thermosphere coupling processes. We consider the relationship between localized temperature enhancements in polar cap measured with the Resolute Bay Incoherent Scatter Radar‐North (RISR‐N) and the orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). Based on analysis of 10 years of data, RISR‐N most commonly observes ion heating in the noon sector under northwards IMF. We interpret heating events in that sector as being primarily driven by sunwards plasma convection associated with lobe reconnection. We attempt to model two of the observed temperature enhancements with a data‐driven first principles model of ionospheric plasma transport and dynamics, but fail to fully reproduce the ion temperature enhancements. However, evaluating the ion energy equation using the locally measured ion velocities reproduces the observed ion temperature enhancements. This result indicates that current techniques for estimating global plasma convection pattern are not adequately capturing mesoscale flows in the polar cap, and this can result in underestimation of the energy deposition into the ionosphere and thermosphere.

  5. Abstract

    Mesoscale high‐latitude electric fields are known to deposit energy into the ionospheric and thermospheric system, yet the energy deposition process is not fully understood. We conduct a case study to quantify the energy deposition from mesoscale high‐latitude electric fields to the thermosphere. For the investigation, we obtain the high‐latitude electric field with mesoscale variabilities from Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar measurements during a moderate geomagnetic storm, providing the driver for the Global Ionosphere and Thermosphere Model (GITM) via the High‐latitude Input for Mesoscale Electrodynamics framework. The HIME‐GITM simulation is compared with GITM simulations driven by the large‐scale electric field from the Weimer model. Our modeling results indicate that the mesoscale electric field modifies the thermospheric energy budget primarily through enhancing the Joule heating. Specifically, in the local high‐latitude region of interest, the mesoscale electric field enhances the Joule heating by up to five times. The resulting neutral temperature enhancement can reach up to 50 K above 200 km altitude. Significant increase in the neutral density above 250 km altitude and in the neutral wind speed are found in the local region as well, lagging a few minutes after the Joule heating enhancement. We demonstrate that the energy deposited by the mesoscale electricmore »field transfers primarily to the gravitational potential energy in the thermosphere.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 15, 2023
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  8. Abstract

    Ion upflow in theFregion and topside ionosphere can greatly influence the ion density and fluxes at higher altitudes and thus has significant impact on ion outflow. We investigated the statistical characteristics of ion upflow and downflow using a 3‐year (2011–2013) data set from the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR). Ion upflow is twice more likely to occur on the nightside than on the dayside in PFISR observations, while downflow events occur more often in the afternoon sector. Upflow and downflow on the dayside tend to occur at altitudes ~500 km, higher than those on the nightside. Both upflow and downflow occur more frequently as ion convection speed increases. Upflow observed from 16 to 6 magnetic local time through midnight is associated with temperature and density enhancements. Occurrence rates of upflow on the nightside and downflow on the dayside increase with geomagnetic activity level. On the nightside, occurrence rate of ion upflow increases with enhanced solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) drivers as well as southwestward local magnetic perturbations. The lack of correlation of upflow on the dayside with the solar wind and IMF parameters is because PFISR is usually equatorward of the dayside auroral zone. Occurrence rate ofmore »downflow does not show strong dependence on the solar wind and IMF conditions. However, it occurs much more frequently on the dayside when the IMFBy > 10 nT and the IMFBz < −10 nT, which we suggest is associated with the decaying of the dayside storm‐enhanced density (SED) and the SED plume.

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