Relationships between field-aligned currents and convection observed by EISCAT and implications concerning the mechanism that produces region-2 currents: Statistical study
Abstract. Fluid theories explain the origin of region-2 field-aligned currents as the closure of the ring current, driven itself by the azimuthal pressure gradients generated in the magnetospheric ring plasma by the sunward convection. Although the structure of pressure gradients appears experimentally complex, observations confirm that a close connection exists between the region-2 field-aligned currents and the ring current. The fluid linear theory of the adiabatic transport by convection of the ring plasma gives a first estimate of this process, and leads ultimately to phase quadrature (in terms of magnetic local time) between the region-2 field-aligned currents and the convection potential. When significant non-adiabatic processes are taken into account, such as precipitations at auroral latitudes, the theoretical phase difference rotates toward opposition. We determine experimentally the phase relationship between the region-2 field-aligned currents and the convection potential from recent statistics, depending on the magnetic activity index Kp, and performed from the EISCAT data base. For geometrical reasons of sufficient probing of region 2, it is only computed in the case of a moderate magnetic activity corresponding to 2 ≤ Kp<4. Region-2 field-aligned currents are found to be in phase opposition with the convection electrostatic potential at auroral latitudes. This confirms the importance of non adiabatic processes, especially ion losses, in the generation of region-2 field-aligned currents, as theoretically suggested.