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Title: A quantitative deconstruction of the morphology of high-latitude ionospheric convection
Authors: Grocott, A.
Milan, S. E.
Imber, S. M.
Lester, M.
Yeoman, T. K.
First Published: 17-May-2012
Publisher: American Geophysical Union (AGU); Wiley
Citation: Journal of Geophysical Research A: SPACE PHYSICS, 2012, 117 (5)
Abstract: [1] We present an analysis of ionospheric convection data derived from velocity measurements made by the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN). Our analysis uses an established technique for combining the network data to produce maps of large-scale convection by fitting a spherical harmonic expansion of the ionospheric electric potential to the radar measurements. We discuss how the basis functions of the spherical harmonic expansion describe different characteristic elements of the ionospheric convection pattern and show how their associated coefficients can be used to quantify the morphology of the convection, much like the total transpolar voltage is used to quantify its strength, in relation to upstream interplanetary magnetic field conditions and associated magnetospheric activity. We find that ∼2/3 of the voltage associated with the typical convection pattern is described by a simple twin vortex basis function. The magnitude of the twin vortex is strongly dependent on IMF BZ and the degree of its (typically westward) rotation is weakly dependent on IMF BY. The remaining ∼1/3 of the total voltage is associated with deviations from the basic twin vortex pattern, introduced by the addition of other basis functions, such as IMF BY associated dusk-dawn asymmetries, nightside convection features associated with tail activity, and “reverse” high-latitude convection cells associated with intervals of IMF BZ > 0.
DOI Link: 10.1029/2012JA017580
ISSN: 0148-0227
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2012 by the American Geophysical Union. All rights reserved. Archived with reference to Usage Permissions granted to authors, available at
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

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