Articles | Volume 23, issue 2
28 Feb 2005
 | 28 Feb 2005

Mesoscale ionospheric electrodynamics of omega bands determined from ground-based electromagnetic and satellite optical observations

O. Amm, A. Aksnes, J. Stadsnes, N. Østgaard, R.R. Vondrak, G.A. Germany, G. Lu, and A. Viljanen

Abstract. We present ground-based electromagnetic data from the MIRACLE and BEAR networks and satellite optical observations from the UVI and PIXIE instruments on the Polar satellite of an omega band event over Northern Scandinavia on 26 June 1998, which occured close to the morning side edge of a substorm auroral bulge. Our analysis of the data concentrates on one omega band period from 03:18-03:27 UT, for which we use the method of characteristics combined with an analysis of the UVI and PIXIE data to derive a time series of instantaneous, solely data-based distributions of the mesoscale ionospheric electrodynamic parameters with a 1-min time resolution. In addition, the AMIE method is used to derive global Hall conductance patterns. Our results show that zonally alternating regions of enhanced ionospheric conductances ("tongues") up to ~60S and low conductance regions are associated with the omega bands. The tongues have a poleward extension of ~400km from their base and a zonal extension of ~380km. While they are moving coherently eastward with a velocity of ~770ms-1, the structures are not strictly stationary. The current system of the omega band can be described as a superposition of two parts: one consists of anticlockwise rotating Hall currents around the tongues, along with Pedersen currents, with a negative divergence in their centers. The sign of this system is reversing in the low conductance areas. It causes the characteristic ground magnetic signature. The second part consists of zonally aligned current wedges of westward flowing Hall currents and is mostly magnetically invisible below the ionosphere. This system dominates the field-aligned current (FAC) pattern and causes alternating upward and downward FAC at the flanks of the tongues with maximum upward FAC of ~25µA m-2. The total FAC of ~2MA are comparable to the ones diverted inside a westward traveling surge. Throughout the event, the overwhelming part of the FAC are associated with gradients of the ionospheric conductances, and 66-84% of the FAC are connected with ionospheric Hall currents.