High-latitude electromagnetic and particle energy flux during an event with sustained strongly northward IMF
- 1The Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, USA
- 2Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California Berkeley, California, USA
- 3School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Abstract. We present a case study of a prolonged interval of strongly northward orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field on 16 July 2000, 16:00-19:00 UT to characterize the energy exchange between the magnetosphere and ionosphere for conditions associated with minimum solar wind-magnetosphere coupling. With reconnection occurring tailward of the cusp under northward IMF conditions, the reconnection dynamo should be separated from the viscous dynamo, presumably driven by the Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instability. Thus, these conditions are also ideal for evaluating the contribution of a viscous interaction to the coupling process. We derive the two-dimensional distribution of the Poynting vector radial component in the northern sunlit polar ionosphere from magnetic field observations by the constellation of Iridium satellites together with drift meter and magnetometer observations from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) F13 and F15 satellites. The electromagnetic energy flux is then compared with the particle energy flux obtained from auroral images taken by the far-ultraviolet (FUV) instrument on the Imager for Magnetopause to Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) spacecraft. The electromagnetic energy input to the ionosphere of 51 GW calculated from the Iridium/DMSP observations is eight times larger than the 6 GW due to particle precipitation all poleward of 78° MLAT. This result indicates that the energy transport is significant, particularly as it is concentrated in a small region near the magnetic pole, even under conditions traditionally considered to be quiet and is dominated by the electromagnetic flux. We estimate the contributions of the high and mid-latitude dynamos to both the Birkeland currents and electric potentials finding that high-latitude reconnection accounts for 0.8 MA and 45kV while we attribute <0.2MA and ~5kV to an interaction at lower latitudes having the sense of a viscous interaction. Given that these conditions are ideal for the occurrence of the KH instability at the magnetopause and hence the viscous interaction, this result suggests that the viscous interaction is a small contributor to coupling solar wind energy to the magnetosphere-ionosphere system.