Articles | Volume 16, issue 11
30 Nov 1998
30 Nov 1998

CUTLASS Finland radar observations of the ionospheric signatures of flux transfer events and the resulting plasma flows

G. Provan, T. K. Yeoman, and S. E. Milan

Abstract. The CUTLASS Finland radar has been run in a two-beam special scan mode, which offered excellent temporal and spatial information on the flows in the high-latitude ionosphere. A detailed study of one day of this data revealed a convection reversal boundary (CRB) in the CUTLASS field of view (f.o.v) on the dayside, the direction of plasma flow either side of the boundary being typical of a dawn-cell convection pattern. Poleward of the CRB a number of pulsed transients are observed, seemingly moving away from the radar. These transients are identified here as the ionospheric signature of flux transfer events (FTEs). Equatorward of the CRB continuous backscatter was observed, believed to be due to the return flow on closed field lines. The two-beam scan offered a new and innovative opportunity to determine the size and velocity of the ionospheric signatures associated with flux transfer events and the related plasma flow pattern. The transient signature was found to have an azimuthal extent of 1900 ± 900 km and an poleward extent of ∼250 km. The motion of the transient features was in a predominantly westward azimuthal direction, at a velocity of 7.5 ± 3 km.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (auroral phenomena; magnetopause · cusp and boundary layers; magnetosphere - ionosphere interaction)