Articles | Volume 28, issue 11
09 Nov 2010
 | 09 Nov 2010

Monopolar and bipolar auroral electric fields and their effects

J. De Keyser, R. Maggiolo, and M. Echim

Abstract. Most of the high-altitude auroral electric fields observed by CLUSTER can be classified into monopolar and bipolar structures. The observations associate monopolar electric fields with polar cap boundary arcs, while bipolar fields tend to be linked to discrete arcs within the auroral oval and to polar cap arcs. The present paper proposes an explanation for this association based on a simple model of the magnetotail configuration and kinetic model computations. The paper introduces a quasi-electrostatic model to describe the auroral current system associated with monopolar and bipolar high-altitude fields. Analytic solutions are presented. The model gives indications about the location of the up- and downward field-aligned current regions, the ionospheric and magnetospheric convection along the arc, the acceleration or deceleration of precipitating particles, and the behaviour of escaping ionospheric ions.