Field-Aligned and Ionospheric Current Contributions to Ground Magnetic Perturbations

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 9:45 AM
Martin G Connors1, Robert L McPherron2, Brian J Anderson3, Haje Korth4, Christopher T Russell5 and Xiangning Chu2, (1)Athabasca University, Athabasca, AB, Canada, (2)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (3)Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States, (4)Johns Hopkins Univ/APL, Laurel, MD, United States, (5)Univ California, Los Angeles, CA, United States
AMPERE data provides global space-derived radial electric currents on temporal and spatial scales suited to studying magnetic fields at ULF frequencies. It responds little to ionspheric currents, which dominate ground-based measurements, so that AMPERE and ground datasets complement each other to give a comprehensive view of near-Earth electric currents.

Connors et al. (GRL, 2014) found that a three-dimensional current system slightly modified from the original substorm current wedge (SCW) concept of McPherron et al. (JGR, 1973) represented substorm midnight sector perturbations well both in the auroral and subauroral regions, if a current equivalent to that found by integrating AMPERE downward current was used, located where clear SCW signatures were indicated by AMPERE, and featuring an ionospheric electrojet. The AMPERE upward current was found to exceed that in the SCW, at least in part since the evening sector electrojet fed into it. We extend these results with a more detailed accounting of field-aligned and ionospheric currents throughout the active period (including growth phase). Ionospheric currents for the study are obtained from ground perturbations through optimization of a simple forward model over regions or on a meridian chain. We also investigate the degree to which subauroral perturbations may be directly calculated from AMPERE results.

We further find that auroral zone currents may be very localized, to the extent that the entire SCW ionospheric current flows in a very restricted latitudinal range near onset, possibly corresponding to a single auroral arc.