Articles | Volume 20, issue 6
30 Jun 2002
 | 30 Jun 2002

Strong sunward propagating flow bursts in the night sector during quiet solar wind conditions: SuperDARN and satellite observations

C. Senior, J.-C. Cerisier, F. Rich, M. Lester, and G. K. Parks

Abstract. High-time resolution data from the two Iceland SuperDARN HF radars show very strong nightside convection activity during a prolonged period of low geomagnetic activity and northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). Flows bursts with velocities ranging from 0.8 to 1.7 km/s are observed to propagate in the sunward direction with phase velocities up to 1.5 km/s. These bursts occur over several hours of MLT in the 20:00–01:00 MLT sector, in the evening-side sunward convection. Data from a simultaneous DMSP pass and POLAR UVI images show a very contracted polar cap and extended regions of auroral particle precipitation from the magnetospheric boundaries. A DMSP pass over the Iceland-West field-of-view while one of these sporadic bursts of enhanced flow is observed, indicates that the flow bursts appear within the plasma sheet and at its outward edge, which excludes Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities at the magnetopause boundary as the generation mechanism. In the nightside region, the precipitation is more spot-like and the convection organizes itself as clockwise U-shaped structures. We interpret these flow bursts as the convective transport following plasma injection events from the tail into the night-side ionosphere. We show that during this period, where the IMF clock angle is around 70°, the dayside magnetosphere is not completely closed.

Key words. Ionosphere (Auroral ionosphere; Ionospheremagnetosphere interactions; Particle precipitation)