Articles | Volume 32, issue 6
Regular paper
04 Jun 2014
Regular paper |  | 04 Jun 2014

An empirical model of the auroral oval derived from CHAMP field-aligned current signatures – Part 2

C. Xiong and H. Lühr

Abstract. In this paper we introduce a new model for the location of the auroral oval. The auroral boundaries are derived from small- and medium-scale field-aligned current (FAC) based on the high-resolution CHAMP (CHAllenging Minisatellite Payload) magnetic field observations during the years 2000–2010. The basic shape of the auroral oval is controlled by the dayside merging electric field, Em, and can be fitted well by ellipses at all levels of activity. All five ellipse parameters show a dependence on Em which can be described by quadratic functions. Optimal delay times for the merging electric field at the bow shock are 30 and 15 min for the equatorward and poleward boundaries, respectively. A comparison between our model and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) auroral model derived from IMAGE (Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration) optical observations has been performed. There is good agreement between the two models regarding both boundaries, and the differences show a Gaussian distribution with a width of ±2° in latitude. The difference of the equatorward boundary shows a local-time dependence, which is 1° in latitude poleward in the morning sector and 1° equatorward in the afternoon sector of the BAS model. We think the difference between the two models is caused by the appearance of auroral forms in connection with upward FACs. All information required for applying our auroral oval model (CH-Aurora-2014) is provided.