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  • 1.
    Figueiredo, Sonia
    et al.
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Marklund, Göran
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Investigation of subauroral ion drifts and related field-aligned currents and ionospheric Pedersen conductivity distribution2004In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 22, no 3, p. 923-934Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Based on Astrid-2 satellite data, results are presented from a statistical study on subauroral ion drift (SAID) occurrence. SAID is a subauroral phenomenon characterized by a westward ionospheric ion drift with velocity greater than 1000 m/s, or equivalently, by a poleward-directed electric field with intensity greater than 30 mV/m. SAID events occur predominantly in the premidnight sector, with a maximum probability located within the 20:00 to 23:00 MLT sector, where the most rapid SAID events are also found. They are substorm related, and show first an increase in intensity and a decrease in latitudinal width during the expansion phase, followed by a weakening and widening of the SAID structures during the recovery phase. The potential drop across a SAID structure is seen to remain roughly constant during the recovery phase. The field-aligned current density and the height-integrated Pedersen conductivity distribution associated with the SAID events were calculated. The results reveal that the strongest SAID electric field peaks are associated with the lowest Pedersen conductivity minimum values. Clear modifications are seen in the ionospheric Pedersen conductivity distribution associated with the SAID structure as time evolves: the SAID peak is located on the poleward side of the corresponding region of reduced Pedersen conductivity; the shape of the regions of reduced conductivity is asymmetric, with a steeper poleward edge and a more rounded equatorward edge; the SAID structure becomes less intense and widens with evolution of the substorm recovery phase. From the analysis of the SAID occurrence relative to the mid-latitude trough position, SAID peaks are seen to occur relatively close to the corresponding mid-latitude trough minimum. Both these features show a similar response to magnetospheric disturbances, but on different time scales - with increasing magnetic activity, the SAID structure shows a faster movement towards lower latitudes than that of the mid-latitude trough. From the combined analysis of these results, we conclude that the SAID generation mechanism cannot be regarded either as a pure voltage generator or as a pure current generator, applied to the ionosphere. While the anti-correlation between the width and the peak intensity of the SAID structures with substorm evolution indicates a magnetospheric source acting as a constant voltage generator, the ionospheric modifications and, in particular the reduction in the conductivity for intense SAID structures, are indicative of a constant current system closing through the ionosphere. The ionospheric feedback mechanisms are seen to be of major importance for sustaining and regulating the SAID structures.

  • 2.
    Figueiredo, Sonia
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Marklund, Göran
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Johansson, Tommy
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Ebihara, Y
    Ejiri, M
    Ivchenko, Nickolay
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Lindqvist, Per-Arne
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Nilsson, H
    Fazakerley, A
    Temporal and spatial evolution of discrete auroral arcs as seen by Cluster2005In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 23, no 7, p. 2531-2557Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Two event studies are presented in this paper where intense convergent electric fields, with mapped intensities up to 1350 mV/m, are measured in the auroral upward current region by the Cluster spacecraft, at altitudes between 3 and 5 Earth radii. Both events are from May 2003, Southern Hemisphere, with equatorward crossings by the Cluster spacecraft of the pre-midnight auroral oval. Event 1 occurs during the end of the recovery phase of a strong substorm. A system of auroral arcs associated with convergent electric field structures, with a maximum perpendicular potential drop of about similar to 10 kV, and upflowing field-aligned currents with densities of 3 mu A/m(2) (mapped to the ionosphere), was detected at the boundary between the Plasma Sheet Boundary Layer (PSBL) and the Plasma Sheet (PS). The auroral arc structures evolve in shape and in magnitude on a timescale of tens of minutes, merging, broadening and intensifying, until finally fading away after about 50 min. Throughout this time, both the PS region and the auroral arc structure in its poleward part remain relatively fixed in space, reflecting the rather quiet auroral conditions during the end of the substorm. The auroral upward acceleration region is shown for this event to extend beyond 3.9 Earth radii altitude. Event 2 occurs during a more active period associated with the expansion phase of a moderate substorm. Images from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F13 spacecraft show that the Cluster spacecraft crossed the horn region of a surge-type aurora. Conjugated with the Cluster spacecraft crossing above the surge horn, the South Pole All Sky Imager recorded the motion and the temporal evolution of an east-west aligned auroral arc, 30 to 50 km wide. Intense electric field variations are measured by the Cluster spacecraft when crossing above the auroral arc structure, collocated with the density gradient at the PS poleward boundary, and coupled to intense upflowing field-aligned currents with mapped densities of up to 20 mu A/m(2). The surge horn consists of multiple arc structures which later merge into one structure and intensify at the PS poleward boundary. The surge horn and the associated PS region moved poleward with a velocity at the ionospheric level of 0.5 km/s, following the large-scale poleward expansion of the auroral oval associated with the substorm expansion phase.

  • 3.
    Johansson, Tommy
    et al.
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Figueiredo, Sonia
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Marklund, Göran
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Fazakerley, Andrew
    Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking.
    Buchert, Stephan
    Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala.
    Lindqvist, Per-Arne
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Nilsson, Hans
    Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna.
    Intense high-altitude auroral electric fields: temporal and spatial characteristics2004In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 22, no 7, p. 2485-2495Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Cluster electric field, magnetic field, and energetic electron data are analyzed for two events of intense auroral electric field variations, both encountered in the Plasma Sheet Boundary Layer (PSBL), in the evening local time sector, and at approximately 5 R-E geocentric distance. The most intense electric fields (peaking at 450 and 1600 mV/m, respectively) were found to be quasi-static, unipolar, relatively stable on the time scale of at least half a minute, and associated with moving downward FAC sheets (peaking at similar to10 muA/m(2)), downward Poynting flux (peaking at similar to35 mW/m(2)), and upward electron beams with characteristic energies consistent with the perpendicular potentials (all values being mapped to 1 R-E geocentric distance). For these two events in the return current region, quasi-static electric field structures and associated FACs were found to dominate the upward acceleration of electrons, as well as the energy transport between the ionosphere and the magnetosphere, although Alfven waves clearly also contributed to these processes.

  • 4.
    Johansson, Tommy
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Marklund, Göran
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Figueiredo, Sonia
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Lindqvist, Per-Arne
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics. KTH, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Electrical Engineering, Space and Plasma Physics.
    Buchert, Stephan
    Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala.
    A statistical study of intense electric fields at 4-7 R-E geocentric distance using Cluster2005In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 23, no 7, p. 2579-2588Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Intense high-latitude electric fields (> 150 mV/m mapped to ionospheric altitude) at 4-7 R-E geocentric distance have been investigated in a statistical study, using data from the Cluster satellites. The orbit of the Cluster satellites limits the data collection at these altitudes to high latitudes, including the poleward part of the auroral oval. The occurrence and distribution of the selected events have been used to characterize the intense electric fields and to investigate their dependance on parameters such as MLT, CGLat, altitude, and also K-p. Peaks in the local time distribution are found in the evening to morning sectors but also in the noon sector, corresponding to cusp events. The electric field intensities decrease with increasing latitude in the region investigated (above 60 CGLat). A dependence on geomagnetic activity is indicated since the probability of finding an event increases up to K-p=5-6. The scales sizes are in the range up to 10 km (mapped to ionospheric altitude) with a maximum around 4-5 km, consistent with earlier findings at lower altitudes and Cluster event studies. The magnitudes of the electric fields are inversely proportional to the scale sizes. The type of electric field structure (convergent or divergent) is consistent with the FAC direction for a subset of events with electric field intensities in the range 500-1000 mV/m and with clear bipolar signatures. The FAC directions are also consistent with the Region 1 and NBZ current systems, the latter of which prevail only during northward IMF conditions. For scale sizes less than 2 km the majority of the events were divergent electric field structures. Both converging and diverging electric fields were found throughout the investigated altitude range (4-7 RE geocentric distance).

  • 5.
    Johansson, Tommy
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Marklund, Göran
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Liléo, Sonia
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Lindqvist, Per-Arne
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Marchaudon, Aurelie
    LPCE, CNRS, Orleans Cedex.
    Nilsson, Hans
    Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna.
    Fazakerley, Andrew
    Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College, London.
    On the profile of intense high-altitude auroral electric fields at magnetospheric boundaries2006In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 24, no 6, p. 1713-1723Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The profile of intense high-altitude electric fields on auroral field lines has been studied using Cluster data. A total of 41 events with mapped electric field magnitudes in the range between 0.5-1 V/m were examined, 27 of which were co-located with a plasma boundary, defined by gradients in particle flux, plasma density and plasma temperature. Monopolar electric field profiles were observed in 11 and bipolar electric field profiles in 16 of these boundary-associated electric field events. Of the monopolar fields, all but one occurred at the polar cap boundary in the late evening and midnight sectors, and the electric fields were typically directed equatorward, whereas the bipolar fields all occurred at plasma boundaries clearly within the plasma sheet. These results support the prediction by Marklund et al. (2004), that the electric field profile depends on whether plasma populations, able to support intense field-aligned currents and closure by Pedersen currents, exist on both sides, or one side only, of the boundary.

  • 6.
    Johansson, Tommy
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Marklund, Göran
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Liléo, Sonia
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Lindqvist, Per-Arne
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Nilsson, Hans
    Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna.
    Buchert, Stephan
    Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala.
    Scale sizes of intense auroral electric fields observed by Cluster2007In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 25, no 11, p. 2413-2425Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The scale sizes of intense (>0.15 V/m, mapped to the ionosphere), high-altitude (4-7 R-E geocentric distance) auroral electric fields (measured by the Cluster EFW instrument) have been determined in a statistical study. Monopolar and bipolar electric fields, and converging and diverging events, are separated. The relations between the scale size, the intensity and the potential variation are investigated.

    The electric field scale sizes are further compared with the scale sizes and widths of the associated field-aligned currents (FACs). The influence of, or relation between, other parameters (proton gyroradius, plasma density gradients, and geomagnetic activity), and the electric field scale sizes are considered.

    The median scale sizes of these auroral electric field structures are found to be similar to the median scale sizes of the associated FACs and the density gradients (all in the range 4.2-.9 km) but not to the median proton gyroradius or the proton inertial scale length at these times and locations (22-30km). (The scales are mapped to the ionospheric altitude for reference.)

    The electric field scale sizes during summer months and high geomagnetic activity (K-p>3) are typically 2-3 km, smaller than the typical 4-5 km scale sizes during winter months and low geomagnetic activity (K-p <= 3), indicating a dependence on ionospheric conductivity.

  • 7.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    et al.
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Marklund, Göran T.
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Figueiredo, Sonia
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Johansson, Tommy
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Buchert, S.
    Separating spatial and temporal variations in auroral electric and magnetic fields by Cluster multipoint measurements2004In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 22, no 7, p. 2463-2472Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Cluster multipoint measurements of the electric and magnetic fields from a crossing of auroral field lines at an attitude of 4 R-E are used to show that it is possible to resolve the ambiguity of temporal versus spatial variations in the fields. We show that the largest electric fields (of the order of 300 mV/m when mapped down to the ionosphere) are of a quasi-static nature, unipolar, associated with upward electron beams, stable on a time scale of at least half a minute, and located in two regions of downward current. We conclude that they are the high-altitude analogues of the intense return current/black auroral electric field structures observed at lower altitudes by Freja and FAST. In between these structures there are temporal fluctuations, which are shown to likely be downward travelling Alfven waves. The periods of these waves are 20-40 s, which is not consistent with periods associated with either the Alfvenic ionospheric resonator, typical field line resonances or substorm onset related Pi2 oscillations. The multipoint measurements enable us to estimate a lower limit to the perpendicular wavelength of the Alfven waves to be of the order of 120 kin, which suggests that the perpendicular wavelength is similar to the dimension of the region between the two quasi-static structures. This might indicate that the Alfven waves are ducted within a wave guide, where the quasi-static structures are associated with the gradients making up this waveguide.

  • 8.
    Lileo, Sonia
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Marklund, Göran T
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Statistical study on the occurrence of ASAID electric fields2010In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, E-ISSN 1432-0576, Vol. 28, no 2, p. 439-448Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The first statistical results on the occurrence of abnormal subauroral ion drifts (ASAID) are presented based on electric and magnetic field measurements from the low-altitude Astrid-2 satellite. ASAID are narrow regions of rapid eastward ion drifts observed in the subauroral ionosphere. They correspond to equatorward-directed electric fields with peak amplitudes seen to vary between 45 mV/m and 185 mV/m, and with latitudinal extensions between 0.2 degrees and 1.2 degrees Corrected Geomagnetic Latitude (CGLat), reaching in some cases up to 3.0 degrees CGLat. Opposite to subauroral ion drifts (SAID) that are known to be substorm-related, ASAID are seen to occur predominantly during extended periods of low substorm activity. Our results show that ASAID are located in the vicinity of the equatorward edge of the auroral oval, mainly in the postmidnight sector between 23:00 and 03:00 magnetic local time. They are associated with a local current system with the same scale-size as the corresponding ASAID, composed by a region of downward field-aligned currents (FACs) flowing in the ASAID poleward side, and a region of upward flowing FACs in the equatorward side. The FACs have densities between 0.5 and 2.0 mu A/m(2). The data suggest that ASAID do not contribute significantly to the reduction of the ionospheric conductivity. ASAID are seen to have life times of at least 3.5 h. A discussion on possible mechanisms for the generation of ASAID is presented. We speculate that the proximity of the electron to the ion plasma sheet inner boundaries and of the plasmapause to the ring current outer edge, during extended quiet times, is an important key for the understanding of the generation of ASAID electric fields.

  • 9.
    Liléo, Sonia
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Marklund, Göran T
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Johansson, Tommy
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Lindqvist, Per-Arne
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling during periods of extended high auroral activity: A case study2008In: Annales Geophysicae, ISSN 0992-7689, Vol. 26, p. 583-591Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Results are presented from a case study of a plasma boundary crossing by the Cluster spacecraft during an extended period of high auroral activity. The boundary between the magnetotail lobe region of the Southern Hemisphere and the plasma sheet boundary layer, was characterized by intense electric and magnetic field variations, structured upward accelerated ion beams, narrow-scale large field-aligned Poynting fluxes directed upward away from the ionosphere, and a relatively sharp plasma density gradient. The observations are shown to be consistent with the concept of a multi-layered boundary with temporal and/or spatial variations in the different layers. H+ and O+ ion beams are seen to be accelerated upwards both by means of a field-aligned electric field and by magnetic pumping caused by large-amplitude and low-frequency electric field fluctuations. The peak energy of the ion beams may here be used as a diagnostic tool for the temporal evolution of the spatial structures, since the temporal changes occur on a time-scale shorter than the times-of-flight of the detected ion species. The case study also shows the boundary region to be mainly characterized by a coupling of the detected potential structures to the low ionosphere during the extended period of high auroral activity, as indicated by the intense field-aligned Poynting fluxes directed upward away from the ionosphere.

  • 10.
    Liléo, Sónia
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Auroral electrodynamics of plasma boundary regions2009Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    The electrodynamic coupling between the auroral ionosphere and the magnetosphere is the main subject of this thesis. Satellite measurements of electric and magnetic fields and of charged particles are used to explore three distinct plasma boundaries, magnetically linked to the nightside auroral ionosphere. These boundaries are the inner edge of the plasma sheet (PS), and the inner and the outer edges of the plasma sheet boundary layer (PSBL).

    Strong ionospheric electric fields with amplitudes up to 400 mV/m may be observed in the subauroral ionosphere, in the vicinity of the ionospheric projection of the PS inner edge. Intense and dynamic auroral electric fields with local magnitudes up to 150 mV/m associated with upward ion beams and field-aligned currents are observed for the events treated here, at the inner and outer boundaries of the PSBL at an altitude of about 4-5 Earth radii, well above the acceleration region. Subauroral and auroral electric fields are the two main subjects of this thesis.

    Subauroral ion drifts (SAID) are associated with poleward electric fields, occurring predominantly in the premidnight region during the substorm recovery phase. The recently revealed abnormal subauroral ion drifts (ASAID) are associated with equatorward electric fields, occurring during extended periods of low auroral activity. The results indicate that the generation mechanism of SAID can neither be regarded as a pure voltage generator nor a pure current generator, but having certain characteristics of both generator types. Ionospheric feedback appears to play a major role for the development and maintenance of the SAID electric fields. The formation of ASAID is proposed to result from the proximity and interaction between different plasma boundaries of the innermost magnetosphere during extended periods of low auroral activity.

    The auroral electric fields observed in the upward current region at the PSBL inner and outer edges are associated with upward parallel electric fields, which partially decouple the high-altitude electric fields from the ionosphere. This is in contrast to the subauroral electric fields which are coupled. Multi-point measurements provided by the Cluster mission show that the observed electric fields are highly variable in space and time, revealing various types of acceleration processes. However, they appear to be tied to the boundary where they are originally formed. A case is  presented where they are associated with large electromagnetic energy fluxes directed upward away from the ionosphere. The interaction between the magnetosphere and ionosphere, being more pronounced at plasma boundary regions, is important for the understanding of the formation and regulation of the highly structured auroral electric fields observed in the upward current region.

  • 11.
    Marklund, Göran
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Johansson, Tommy
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Liléo, Sonia
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics.
    Cluster observations of an auroral potential and associated field-aligned current reconfiguration during thinning of the plasma sheet boundary layer2007In: Journal of Geophysical Research, ISSN 0148-0227, E-ISSN 2156-2202, Vol. 112, no 1, p. 10.1029/2006JA011804-Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Cluster observations are used to illustrate the reconfiguration of an auroral potential structure encountered at the poleward boundary of the central plasma sheet within the Southern Hemisphere premidnight auroral oval. The reconfiguration from a symmetric U shape to an asymmetric S shape takes place between two consecutive crossings by Cluster spacecraft 1 and 2, moving along roughly the same orbits and separated in time by 16 min. During this time the plasma conditions poleward of the boundary changed dramatically. The fluxes of energetic electrons decreased, as did the intensities of the associated small-scale field-aligned currents (FACs) and the ambient plasma density. These changes were particularly pronounced in a narrow region adjacent to the boundary. The reconfiguration of the potential structure, and of the associated FAC system consistent with this, are consistent with the predictions by Marklund et al. (2004).

  • 12.
    Marklund, Göran T.
    et al.
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics. KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics. KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Figueiredo, Sonia
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Johansson, Tommy
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Lindqvist, Per-Arne
    KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Space and Plasma Physics. KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Centres, Alfvén Laboratory Centre for Space and Fusion Plasma Physics.
    Andre, M.
    Buchert, S.
    Kistler, L. M.
    Dynamics and characteristics of electric-field structures in the auroral return current region observed by Cluster2006In: Physica Scripta, ISSN 0031-8949, E-ISSN 1402-4896, Vol. T122, p. 34-43Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The temporal evolution and other characteristics of intense quasi- static electric fields in the return current region are discussed using Cluster observations. A narrow- scale, divergent electric field, the high- altitude signature of a positive U- shaped potential structure, was observed at the poleward edge of the central plasma sheet, close to magnetic midnight at a geocentric distance of about 4.2 Earth radii. Its acceleration potential increased from less than 1 to 3 kV on a 100 s timescale, similar to the formation time for ionospheric plasma density holes, and consistent with previous results for this kind of structure. In the adjacent upward current region, an energy decrease in inverted- V ions was observed some minutes prior to this. The inverted- V potential decrease was roughly equal to the subsequent perpendicular potential increase in the return current region, suggesting that a potential redistribution took place between the two adjacent current branches. Other characteristics of this and three other return current structures are summarized, to illustrate both common and different features of these. The structures are characterized by ( all values have been mapped to the ionospheric level) peak electric- field magnitudes of approximate to 1Vm(-1), bipolar or unipolar profiles, occurrence at plasma boundaries associated with plasma density gradients, perpendicular scale sizes of approximate to 10 km, downward field-aligned currents of approximate to 10 mu A m(-2), and upward electron beams with characteristic energies of a few hundred to a few thousand eV. The bipolar and unipolar electric- field profiles are proposed to reflect whether plasma populations, dense enough to support upward field-aligned currents (by which the return current can close) exist on both sides, or on one side only of the boundary.

  • 13.
    Marklund, Göran T.
    et al.
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Karlsson, Tomas
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Figueiredo, Sonia
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Johansson, Tommy
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    Lindqvist, Per-Arne
    KTH, Superseded Departments, Alfvén Laboratory.
    André, M.
    Buchert, S.
    Kistler, L. M.
    Fazakerley, A.
    Characteristics of quasi-static potential structures observed in the auroral return current region by Cluster2004In: Nonlinear processes in geophysics, ISSN 1023-5809, E-ISSN 1607-7946, Vol. 11, no 5-6, p. 709-720Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Temporal and spatial characteristics of intense quasi-static electric fields and associated electric potential structures in the return current region are discussed using Cluster observations at geocentric distances of about 5 Earth radii. Results are presented from four Cluster encounters with such acceleration structures to illustrate common as well as different features of such structures. The electric field structures are characterized by (all values are projected to 100 cm altitude) peak amplitudes of approximate to 1V/m, bipolar or unipolar profiles, perpendicular scale sizes of approximate to 10km, occurrence at auroral plasma boundaries associated with plasma density gradients, downward field-aligned currents of approximate to 10 muA/m(2), and upward electron beams with characteristic energies of a few hundred eV to a few keV. Two events illustrate he temporal evolution of bipolar, diverging electric field strictures, indicative of positive U-shaped potentials increasing in magnitude from less than 1 kV to a few kV on a few 100s time scale. This is also the typical formation time for ionospheric plasma cavities, which are connected to the potential structure and suggested to evolve hand-in-hand with these. In one of these events an energy decay of inverted-V ions was observed in the upward field-aligned current region prior to the acceleration potential increase in the adjacent downward current region, possibly suggesting that a potential redistribution took place between the two current branches. The other two events were characterized by intense unipolar electric fields, indicative of S-shaped potential contours and were encountered at the polar cap boundary. The total observation time for these events was typically 10-20 s, too short for monitoring the evolution of the structure, bui yet of interest for revealing their short term stability. The locations of the two bipolar events at the poleward boundary of the central plasma sheet and of the two unipolar events at the polar cap boundary, suggest that the special profile shape depends on whether plasma populations, dense enough to support upward field-aligned currents and closure of the return current, exist on both sides, or on one side only, of the boundary.

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