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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 17, issue 2
Ann. Geophys., 17, 159-172, 1999
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-999-0159-5
© European Geosciences Union 1999
Ann. Geophys., 17, 159-172, 1999
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-999-0159-5
© European Geosciences Union 1999

  28 Feb 1999

28 Feb 1999

Meridian-scanning photometer, coherent HF radar, and magnetometer observations of the cusp: a case study

S. E. Milan1, M. Lester1, S. W. H. Cowley1, J. Moen2, P. E. Sandholt3, and C. J. Owen4 S. E. Milan et al.
  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
  • 2UNIS, P.O. Box 156, N-9170 Longyearbyen, Norway
  • 3Department of Physics, University of Oslo, P O Box 1048 Blindern, N-0316 Oslo, Norway
  • 4Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London, London E1 4NS, UK

Abstract. The dynamics of the cusp region and post-noon sector for an interval of predominantly IMF By, Bz < 0 nT are studied with the CUTLASS Finland coherent HF radar, a meridian-scanning photometer located at Ny Ålesund, Svalbard, and a meridional network of magnetometers. The scanning mode of the radar is such that one beam is sampled every 14 s, and a 30° azimuthal sweep is completed every 2 minutes, all at 15 km range resolution. Both the radar backscatter and red line (630 nm) optical observations are closely co-located, especially at their equatorward boundary. The optical and radar aurora reveal three different behaviours which can interchange on the scale of minutes, and which are believed to be related to the dynamic nature of energy and momentum transfer from the solar wind to the magnetosphere through transient dayside reconnection. Two interpretations of the observations are presented, based upon the assumed location of the open/closed field line boundary (OCFLB). In the first, the OCFLB is co-located with equatorward boundary of the optical and radar aurora, placing most of the observations on open field lines. In the second, the observed aurora are interpreted as the ionospheric footprint of the region 1 current system, and the OCFLB is placed near the poleward edge of the radar backscatter and visible aurora; in this interpretation, most of the observations are placed on closed field lines, though transient brightenings of the optical aurora occur on open field lines. The observations reveal several transient features, including poleward and equatorward steps in the observed boundaries, "braiding" of the backscatter power, and 2 minute quasi-periodic enhancements of the plasma drift and optical intensity, predominantly on closed field lines.

Key words. Ionosphere (auroral ionosphere; plasma convection) · Magnetospheric physics (magnetopause · cusp · and boundary layers)

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