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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 24, issue 7
Ann. Geophys., 24, 1977–1991, 2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 24, 1977–1991, 2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  09 Aug 2006

09 Aug 2006

Statistical analysis of ionospheric potential patterns for isolated substorms and sawtooth events

X. Cai, C. R. Clauer, and A. J. Ridley X. Cai et al.
  • Space Physics Research Laboratory, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

Abstract. We present here results which contrast isolated substorms with individual sawtooth events. Sawtooth events are defined as quasi-periodic, large-amplitude oscillations in the energetic particle flux with a periodicity of 2–4 h observed at the geosynchronous orbit. Sawtooth events have several similarities to isolated substorms leading therefore, to different opinions about whether sawtooth events are just an intense periodic form of substorms or if they deserve a category of their own. To help resolve this, we examine the ionospheric potential patterns in the northern polar region for isolated substorms and sawtooth events using the assimilative mapping of ionospheric electrodynamics (AMIE) technique. First we show a statistical analysis of isolated substorm potential patterns. In order to examine the seasonal variation, isolated substorms are identified by mid-latitude positive bay in the north-south geomagnetic perturbation in each season, respectively. Superposed epoch analysis (SEA) is applied to obtain the typical polar potential patterns for each season. By examining the time evolution of the potential patterns and cross polar cap potential (CPCP) for isolated substorms during each season, we find only subtle seasonal variations in the results obtained using the AMIE analysis. This provides a basis for comparison with sawtooth events in the next step. From the averaged potential patterns of 213 isolated substorms and those of 184 individual sawtooth events, we find the sawtooth events show signatures similar to subtorms: the DP 1 potential pattern develops and dominates the polar region after the onset. However, the DP 1 potential cell of sawtooth events encompasses a larger area than that of isolated substorms. Moreover, the CPCP of sawtooth is stronger than that of isolated substorms. It is also shown that the sawtooth events displays greater variability between individual events than isolated substorms. We conclude that in terms of ionospheric electrodynamics, the sawtoothe events have features that are similar to those of isolates substorms, though larger in spatial extent and in magnitude.

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