Articles | Volume 26, issue 8
04 Aug 2008
 | 04 Aug 2008

The role of external triggers in flow shear arcs in the dayside aurora

P. E. Sandholt and C. J. Farrugia

Abstract. In case studies we relate dayside auroral transients to IMF By-distorted plasma convection cells based on high-resolution observations from the ground. We selected three days representing positive and negative IMF By conditions when SuperDARN returned reliable dayside convection patterns in the sector of our optical observations from Ny Ålesund, Svalbard (76° MLAT). We combine two perspectives on the dayside aurora, the local and the global. In the first we derive the fine-structure of dayside precipitation/convection as a function of magnetic latitude (MLAT) and magnetic local time (MLT), which is necessary to understand the local M-I coupling processes (Birkeland current structure). The larger perspective (quasi-global dayside aurora) may be used to shed light on the solar wind-magnetosphere interconnection topology. The auroral morphology consists of brightening events and poleward moving auroral forms (PMAFs) in the pre- and postnoon sectors longitudinally separated by a band of strongly attenuated aurora near noon. We find that the MLT-dependent spatial structure in the dayside aurora (PMAFs/prenoon – "midday gap aurora" – PMAFs/postnoon) which is present during stable IMF conditions is altered by temporal structure during intervals of IMF/solar wind plasma transients. The focus is on the PMAF substructure (so-called "rebrightening forms") which we identify as dynamical plasma flow shear arcs (FSAs) in By-distorted dawn- and dusk-centered convection cells in the close vicinity of the cusp.