Articles | Volume 18, issue 9
Ann. Geophys., 18, 1043–1053, 2000

Special issue: IXe EISCAT

Ann. Geophys., 18, 1043–1053, 2000

  30 Sep 2000

30 Sep 2000

Polar patches observed by ESR and their possible origin in the cusp region

A. M. Smith, S. E. Pryse, and L. Kersley A. M. Smith et al.
  • Department of Physics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, SY23 3BZ, UK
  • Correspondence to: S. E. Pryse
  • e-mail:

Abstract. Observations by the EISCAT Svalbard radar in summer have revealed electron density enhancements in the magnetic noon sector under conditions of IMF Bz southward. The features were identified as possible candidates for polar-cap patches drifting anti-Sunward with the plasma flow. Supporting measurements by the EISCAT mainland radar, the CUTLASS radar and DMSP satellites, in a multi-instrument study, suggested that the origin of the structures lay upstream at lower latitudes, with the modulation in density being attributed to variability in soft-particle precipitation in the cusp region. It is proposed that the variations in precipitation may be linked to changes in the location of the reconnection site at the magnetopause, which in turn results in changes in the energy distribution of the precipitating particles.

Key words: Ionosphere (ionosphere-magnetosphere interactions; plasma temperature and density; polar ionosphere)

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