Effects of ionospheric conductance in high-latitude phenomena
Benkevitch, Leonid V
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In this thesis, the relationship between several high-latitude phenomena and the ionospheric conductance in both hemispheres is studied theoretically and experimentally. Theoretically, the high-latitude electrodynamics is studied by considering currents in the magnetosphere-ionosphere system resulting from the ionospheric sheet current redistribution between the conjugate ionospheres. It is shown that strong flow between the conjugate ionospheres, the interhemispheric currents (IHC), can be set up if the conductance distribution is asymmetric in the conjugate ionospheric regions. Such conditions are typical for solstices owing to the differences in the solar illumination. Analytical and numerical modeling shows that IHCs can appear in the regions of strong conductance gradient, more specifically around the solar terminator line, and that the intensity of the IHCs can be comparable to the intensity of the well known Region 1/Region 2 currents. The effect of IHC excitation on observable magnetic perturbations on the ground is investigated. It is shown that in the vicinity of the solar terminator line, the pattern of magnetic perturbation can be such that an apparent equivalent current vortex can be detected. In addition, strong conductance gradients are shown to affect significantly the quality of the ionospheric plasma flow estimates from the ground-based magnetometer data. Experimentally, the effect of the nightside ionospheric conductance on occurrence of substorms, global storm sudden commencement and radar auroras is investigated. To characterize substorm occurrence, new parameters, the derivatives of the classical AE and AO indices, are introduced. It is shown that the seasonal and diurnal variations of these parameters are controlled by the total nightside ionospheric conductance in the conjugate regions. The substorm onsets preferentially occur at low levels of the total conductance, which is consistent with the idea of the substorm triggering through the magnetosphere-ionosphere feedback instability. It is hypothesized that the total conductance affects the global storm onsets as well. To check this idea, the 33-year sudden storm commencement (SSC) data are considered. The semiannual, annual, semidiurnal, and diurnal variations in the SSC occurrence rate are found to be significant and these components exhibit a strong relationship with the total conductance of the high-latitude ionospheres. Finally, the SuperDARN midnight echo occurrence is shown to correlate, for some radars, with the total conductance minima and presumably with electric field maxima, which is consistent with general expectation that the F-region irregularities occur preferentially during times of enhanced electric fields. The gradients of the high-latitude conductance can also lead to significant errors in the plasma convection estimates from the ground-based magnetometers, and to investigate this effect a statistical assessment of the difference between the true plasma convection (SuperDARN) and the magnetometer-inferred equivalent convection direction is performed. The largest differences are found for the transition region between the dark and sunlit ionospheres and in the midnight sector where strong conductance gradients are expected due to particle precipitation. Consideration of regular conductance gradients due to solar illumination improves the agreement between the radar and magnetometer data. Finally, an attempt is made to demonstrate the effects of conductance upon the properties of traveling convection vortices (TCVs). Joint SuperDARN and magnetometer data reveal that there is resemblance between the magnetometer and radar inferred TCV images on a scale of thousands of kilometers. However, on a smaller scale of hundreds of kilometers, significant differences are observed.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
DepartmentPhysics and Engineering Physics
ProgramPhysics and Engineering Physics
SupervisorKoustov, Alexandre V. (Sasha)
CommitteeSmolyakov, Andrei I.; Moewes, Alexander; Hussey, Glenn C.; Fenrich, Frances R.; Ansdell, Kevin M.; Sofko, George J.
Copyright DateAugust 2005