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  1. Dynamic mesoscale flow structures move across the open field line regions of the polar caps and then enter the nightside plasma sheet where they can cause important space weather disturbances, such as streamers, substorms, and omega bands. The polar cap structures have long durations (apparently at least ∼1½ to 2 h), but their connections to disturbances have received little attention. Hence, it will be important to uncover what causes these flow enhancement channels, how they map to the magnetospheric and magnetosheath structures, and what controls their propagation across the polar cap and their dynamic effects after reaching the nightside auroral oval. The examples presented here use 630-nm auroral and radar observations and indicate that the motion of flow channels could be critical for determining when and where a particular disturbance within the nightside auroral oval will be triggered, and this could be included for full understanding of flow channel connections to disturbances. Also, it is important to determine how polar cap flow channels lead to flow channels within the auroral oval, i.e., the plasma sheet, and determine the conditions along nightside oval/plasma sheet field lines that interact with an incoming polar cap flow channel to cause a particular disturbance. It willmore »also be interesting to consider the generality of geomagnetic disturbances being related to connections with incoming polar cap flow channels, including the location, time, and type of disturbances, and whether the duration and expansion of disturbances are related to flow channel duration and to multiple flow channels.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 27, 2024
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  4. Flow bursts are a major component of transport within the plasma sheet and auroral oval (where they are referred to as flow channels), and lead to a variety of geomagnetic disturbances as they approach the inner plasma sheet (equatorward portion of the auroral oval). However, their two-dimensional structure as they approach the inner plasma sheet has received only limited attention. We have examined this structure using both the Rice Convection Model (RCM) and ground-based radar and all sky imager observations. As a result of the energy dependent magnetic drift, the low entropy plasma of a flow burst spreads azimuthally within the inner plasma sheet yielding specific predictions of subauroral polarization stream (SAPS) and dawnside auroral polarization stream (DAPS) enhancements that are related to the field-aligned currents associated with the flow channel. Flow channels approximately centered between the dawn and dusk large-scale convection cells are predicted to give significant enhancements of both SAPS and DAPS, whereas flow channel further toward the dusk (dawn) convection cell show a far more significant enhancement of SAPS (DAPS) than for DAPS (SAPS). We present observations for cases having good coverage of flow channels as they approach the equatorward portion of the auroral oval and findmore »very good qualitative agreement with the above RCM predictions, including the predicted differences with respect to flow burst location. Despite there being an infinite variety of flow channels’ plasma parameters and of background plasma sheet and auroral oval conditions, the observations show the general trends predicted by the RCM simulations with the idealized parameters. This supports that RCM predictions of the azimuthal spread of a low-entropy plasma sheet plasma and its associated FAC and flow responses give a realistic physical description of the structure of plasma sheet flow bursts (auroral oval flow channels) as they reach the inner plasma sheet (near the equatorward edge of the auroral oval).« less