Articles | Volume 31, issue 9
Regular paper
06 Sep 2013
Regular paper |  | 06 Sep 2013

Seasonal variation of the ion upflow in the topside ionosphere during SAPS (subauroral polarization stream) periods

H. Wang and H. Lühr

Abstract. A statistical study has been performed by using two years of DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) plasma observations to investigate the seasonal effect of SAPS (subauroral polarization stream) on the ion upflow in the duskside ionosphere of the Northern Hemisphere. There are obvious upflows occurring in the topside ionosphere around the SAPS region, exceeding 200 m s−1 at winter solstice, indicating an important relationship between SAPS and the local plasma upward motion. Both SAPS and ion upward velocities show similar seasonal variations, largest in winter and smallest in summer, irrespective of geomagnetic activity. A good correlation is found and a linear relationship is derived between SAPS and the ion upflow velocities. During December solstice the average upflow flux can reach about 2 × 108 cm−2 s−1 for more disturbed periods, which is comparable to the typical upflow flux in the dayside cusp region. The depression of the ion temperatures around the peak SAPS region can be understood in terms of the adiabatic cooling. The hot ion cools down when expanding into the low ion concentration region. The electron temperature elevates around the SAPS region because of the reduced Coulomb cooling in the low ion density region. Both the changes of ion and electron temperatures are larger in winter than in summer, however, for Kp < 4 the electron temperatures are almost seasonably independent. The present work highlights the important role of the SAPS-related frictional heating at mid-latitudes on the local formation of the strong upward flow, which might provide a direct ionospheric ion source for the ring current and plasmasphere in the duskside sector.