Articles | Volume 18, issue 4
30 Apr 2000
30 Apr 2000

A statistical survey of dayside pulsed ionospheric flows as seen by the CUTLASS Finland HF radar

K. A. McWilliams, T. K. Yeoman, and G. Provan

Abstract. Nearly two years of 2-min resolution data and 7- to 21-s resolution data from the CUTLASS Finland HF radar have undergone Fourier analysis in order to study statistically the occurrence rates and repetition frequencies of pulsed ionospheric flows in the noon-sector high-latitude ionosphere. Pulsed ionospheric flow bursts are believed to be the ionospheric footprint of newly reconnected geomagnetic field lines, which occur during episodes of magnetic flux transfer to the terrestrial magnetosphere - flux transfer events or FTEs. The distribution of pulsed ionospheric flows were found to be well grouped in the radar field of view, and to be in the vicinity of the radar signature of the cusp footprint. Two thirds of the pulsed ionospheric flow intervals included in the statistical study occurred when the interplanetary magnetic field had a southward component, supporting the hypothesis that pulsed ionospheric flows are a reconnection-related phenomenon. The occurrence rate of the pulsed ionospheric flow fluctuation period was independent of the radar scan mode. The statistical results obtained from the radar data are compared to occurrence rates and repetition frequencies of FTEs derived from spacecraft data near the magnetopause reconnection region, and to ground-based optical measurements of poleward moving auroral forms. The distributions obtained by the various instruments in different regions of the magnetosphere were remarkably similar. The radar, therefore, appears to give an unbiased sample of magnetopause activity in its routine observations of the cusp footprint.

Key words: Magnetospheric physics (magnetosphere-ionosphere interactions; plasma convection; solar wind-magnetosphere interactions)