Vertical evolution of auroral acceleration at substorm onset
Abstract. This study describes the onset process of auroral substorms in connection with the vertical evolution of auroral particle acceleration, on the basis of auroral kilometric radiation (AKR) dynamics. We show that the auroral acceleration process at substorm onset basically consists of two stages: (1) appearance/intensification of a low-altitude acceleration region at 4000–5000 km accompanied by initial brightening and (2) breakout of high-altitude field-aligned acceleration above the pre-existing low-altitude acceleration region at 6000–12 000 km, which is followed by auroral breakup and poleward expansion. It is also revealed that this two-stage evolution of auroral acceleration corresponds to the two-step reinforcement of field-aligned current.