Articles | Volume 20, issue 8
31 Aug 2002
 | 31 Aug 2002

Instantaneous ionospheric global conductance maps during an isolated substorm

A. Aksnes, J. Stadsnes, J. Bjordal, N. Østgaard, R. R. Vondrak, D. L. Detrick, T. J. Rosenberg, G. A. Germany, and D. Chenette

Abstract. Data from the Polar Ionospheric X-ray Imager (PIXIE) and the Ultraviolet Imager (UVI) on board the Polar satellite have been used to provide instantaneous global conductance maps. In this study, we focus on an isolated substorm event occurring on 31 July 1997. From the PIXIE and the UVI measurements, the energy spectrum of the precipitating electrons can be derived. By using a model of the upper atmosphere, the resulting conductivity values are generated. We present global maps of how the 5 min time-averaged height-integrated Hall and Pedersen conductivities vary every 15 min during this isolated substorm. The method presented here enables us to study the time development of the conductivities, with a spatial resolution of ~ 700 km. During the substorm, a single region of enhanced Hall conductance is observed. The Hall conductance maximum remains situated between latitudes 64 and 70 corrected geomagnetic (CGM) degrees and moves eastward. The strongest conductances are observed in the pre-midnight sector at the start of the substorm expansion. Toward the end of the substorm expansion and into the recovery phase, we find the Hall conductance maximum in the dawn region. We also observe that the Hall to Pedersen conductance ratio for the regions of maximum Hall conductance is increasing throughout the event, indicating a hardening of the electron spectrum. By combining PIXIE and UVI measurements with an assumed energy distribution, we can cover the whole electron energy range responsible for the conductances. Electrons with energies contributing most to the Pedersen conductance are well covered by UVI while PIXIE captures the high energetic component of the precipitating electrons affecting the Hall conductance. Most statistical conductance models have derived conductivities from electron precipitation data below approximately 30 keV. Since the intensity of the shortest UVI-wavelengths (LBHS) decreases significantly at higher electron energies, the UVI electron energy range is more or less comparable with the energy ranges of the statistical models. By calculating the conductivities from combined PIXIE and UVI measurements to compare with the conductivities from using UVI data only, we observe significant differences in the Hall conductance. The greatest differences are observed in the early evening and the late morning sector. We therefore suggest that the existing statistical models underestimate the Hall conductance.

Key words. Ionosphere (auroral ionosphere, particle precipitation) – Magnetospheric physics (storms and substorms)