Investigation of energy transport and thermospheric upwelling during quiet magnetospheric and ionospheric conditions from the studies of low- and middle-altitude cusp
Abstract. We investigate energy fluxes and small, kilometre-scale Birkeland currents in the magnetospheric cusp at a 1–3 Earth radii altitude and in the ionosphere using satellites when they were, according to the Tsyganenko model, in magnetic conjunction within 50–60 km and up to 15 min apart. We use Cluster and CHAMP satellites, and study three conjunction events that occurred in 2008 and 2009, when the Cluster spacecraft were crossing the cusps at only a few Earth radii altitude. Our goal is to understand better the influence of processes in the magnetospheric cusp on the upper thermosphere and its upwelling which was usually observed by the CHAMP satellite passing the cusp. Three studied events occurred under relatively quiet and steady magnetospheric and ionospheric conditions, which explains why observed thermospheric density enhancements were rather low. Our findings point out that for each studied event soft electron precipitation influences thermospheric density enhancements in a way that stronger electron precipitation produces stronger thermospheric upwelling. Therefore, in the case of these weak events, soft electron precipitation seems to be more important cause of the observed, thermospheric density enhancements than is the Joule heating.