Terminator field-aligned current system: Its dependencies on solar, seasonal, and geomagnetic conditions

Friday, 19 December 2014
Lie Zhu, Robert Walter Schunk, Vincent Eccles, Ludger Scherliess, Jan Josef Sojka and Larry C Gardner, Utah State University, Logan, UT, United States
A new field-aligned current system in the high-latitude ionosphere was reported recently by Zhu et al. (2014). The current system develops and evolves along the ionospheric terminator and it is thus termed as the terminator field-aligned currents. The discovery was based on the reconstructions from the Ionospheric Dynamics and Electrodynamics Data Assimilation Model (IDED-DA) with the ingestion of observational measurements. In this presentation, we show the results of a follow-on study using the IDED-DA, in which the solar, seasonal, and geomagnetic dependencies of the terminator field-aligned currents are explored. The new current system is the first field-aligned current system in the high-latitude ionosphere that is not directly driven by the magnetospheric dynamics and has an ionospheric origin. A systematic study of its electrodynamic and plasma dynamics as well as dependencies on various solar-terrestrial conditions will help us to explore the active role of the ionosphere in the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling and improve the physical understanding of the electrodynamics and plasma dynamics of many small-scale structures in the polar ionosphere.