Estimating regional auroral electron energy deposition using ground-based optical measurements
Friday, 19 December 2014
Two key parameters for understanding the coupling between the magnetosphere and the thermosphere/ionosphere in polar regions are the characteristic energy and the total energy flux of precipitating auroral electrons. Ionization due to precipitating electrons modifies the ionospheric electron density profile and thereby the height-dependent conductivity in a complex manner in both time and space. Global or regional thermospheric dynamics models typically rely on empirical models (Ovation) or low-resolution global EUV imagery (POLAR) for electron precipitation input which smear out the mesoscale detail of the location and timing of auroral arcs. We have developed a method for measuring the time-dependent auroral electron energy deposition over a several-hundred km range with 25 km resolution using a combination of two ground-based optical instruments - a scanning-doppler imager observing green-line temperatures and a filtered all-sky imager measuring the N2+ first negative emission at 427.8 nm. We will discuss the details of the method, and show several examples including those from the MICA sounding rocket experiment as well as several events from the AMISR PINOT campaign. We will also show comparisons with alternate optical and radar techniques, compare our estimated energy flux to those from Ovation, and discuss limitations and advantages of the technique when examining mesoscale dynamics in the auroral zone.