Articles | Volume 17, issue 11
30 Nov 1999
30 Nov 1999

Spatial distribution of conductances and currents associated with a north-south auroral form during a multiple-substorm period

O. Amm, A. Pajunpää, and U. Brandström

Abstract. Using the method of characteristics to invert ground-based data of the ground magnetic field disturbance and of the ionospheric electric field, we obtain spatial distributions of ionospheric conductances, currents, and field-aligned currents (FACs) associated with a north-south auroral form that drifts westwards over northern Scandinavia around 2200 UT on December 2, 1977. This auroral form is one in a sequence of such north-south structures observed by all-sky cameras, and appears 14 min after the last of several breakups during that extremely disturbed night. Our analysis shows that the ionospheric Hall conductance reaches values above 200 S in the center of the form, and upward flowing FACs of up to 25 µA/m2 are concentrated near its westward and equatorward edge. The strong upward flowing FACs are fed by an area of more distributed, but still very strong downward-flowing FACs northeastward of the auroral form. In contrast to the conductances, the electric field is only slightly affected by the passage of the form. We point out similarities and differences of our observations and results to previously reported observations and models of 'auroral fingers', 'north-south aurora', and 'auroral streamers' which are suggested to be ionospheric manifestations of bursty bulk flows in the plasma sheet.

Key words. Ionosphere (auroral ionosphere; electric fields and currents) · Magnetospheric physics (magnetosphere · ionosphere interactions)