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

Ionospheric conductances derived from satellite measurements of auroral UV and X-ray emissions, and ground-based electromagnetic data: a comparison

A. Aksnes, O. Amm, J. Stadsnes, N. Østgaard, G. A. Germany, R. R. Vondrak, and I. Sillanpää

Abstract. Global instantaneous conductance maps can be derived from remote sensing of UV and X-ray emissions by the UVI and PIXIE cameras on board the Polar satellite. Another technique called the 1-D method of characteristics provides mesoscale instantaneous conductance profiles from the MIRACLE ground-based network in Northern Scandinavia, using electric field measurements from the STARE coherent scatter radar and ground magnetometer data from the IMAGE network. The method based on UVI and PIXIE data gives conductance maps with a resolution of ~800km in space and ~4.5min in time, while the 1-D method of characteristics establishes conductances every 20s and with a spatial resolution of ~50km. In this study, we examine three periods with substorm activity in 1998 to investigate whether the two techniques converge when the results from the 1-D method of characteristics are averaged over the spatial and temporal resolution of the UVI/PIXIE data.

In general, we find that the calculated conductance sets do not correlate. However, a fairly good agreement may be reached when the ionosphere is in a state that does not exhibit strong local turbulence. By defining a certain tolerance level of turbulence, we show that 14 of the 15 calculated conductance pairs during relatively uniform ionospheric conditions differ less than ±30%. The same is true for only 4 of the 9 data points derived when the ionosphere is in a highly turbulent state. A correlation coefficient between the two conductance sets of 0.27 is derived when all the measurements are included. By removing the data points from time periods when too much ionospheric turbulence occurs, the correlation coefficient raises to 0.57. Considering the two very different techniques used in this study to derive the conductances, with different assumptions, limitations and scale sizes, our results indicate that simple averaging of mesoscale results allows a continuous transition to large-scale results. Therefore, it is possible to use a combined approach to study ionospheric events with satellite optical and ground-based electrodynamic data of different spatial and temporal resolutions. We must be careful, though, when using these two techniques during disturbed conditions. The two methods will only give results that systematically converge when relatively uniform conditions exist.