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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 26, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 26, 201–210, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-26-201-2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 26, 201–210, 2008
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-26-201-2008
© Author(s) 2008. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  04 Feb 2008

04 Feb 2008

Multi-instrumentation observations of a transpolar arc in the northern hemisphere

A. Goudarzi1, M. Lester1, S. E. Milan1, and H. U. Frey2 A. Goudarzi et al.
  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, UK
  • 2Space Science Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-7450, USA

Abstract. A transpolar arc was imaged by the FUV instrument on the IMAGE spacecraft during a 3-h interval on 5 February 2002. Observations indicate that a burst of reconnection in the geomagnetic tail, which was not associated with a substorm, was responsible for the formation of the arc. The arc initially formed across the central polar cap, extending from near midnight to noon such that the polar cap was approximately divided in half. The subsequent motion of the arc was controlled by the amount of open flux being added to the dawn sector cap from a magnetopause reconnection site on the post-noon side of the magnetosphere. The dayside reconnection happened during a period when the IMF By component was dominant, although the Bz component initially remained positive, and resulted in strong westward azimuthal flows in the noon sector. The arc continued to move towards the duskside auroral oval after the IMF Bz turned southward. A keogram of the FUV/WIC auroral observations along the dawn-dusk meridian provides further evidence of the expansion and contraction of the polar cap during the period in which different IMF orientations occurred. Furthermore, comparing images from IMAGE and ionospheric convection flow from SuperDARN measurements, vortical convection flows occurred exactly at the time and location of the formation of the transpolar arc and subsequently followed the head of the transpolar arc as it moved across the polar cap. The observations are consistent with the prediction of a recent model for the formation of the transpolar cap by the closure of open flux in the geomagnetic tail, and its subsequent motion through changes in the open flux distribution within the polar cap.

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