Solar Wind Effect on Joule Heating in the High-Latitude Ionosphere

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 12:08 PM
Lei Cai, Anita Taina Aikio and Tuomo J Nygren, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) carried by solar wind affects strongly several key parameters in the high-latitude ionosphere. In this study, the solar wind effect on those parameters especially on Joule heating is conducted statistically based on the simultaneous measurements by the EISCAT radars in Tromsø (TRO, 66.6° cgmLat, mainly within the auroral oval on the nightside), and on Svalbard (ESR, 75.4º cgmLat, mostly within the polar cap). The most important findings are as follows: (i) At TRO, the decrease in Joule heating in the afternoon-evening sector due to neutral winds reported by Aikio et al. [2012] requires southward IMF conditions and a sufficiently high solar wind electric field. The increase in the morning sector takes place for all IMF directions within a region where the upper-E neutral wind has a large equatorward component and the F-region plasma flow is directed eastward. (ii) At ESR, an afternoon hot spot of joule heating centred typically at 14-15 MLT is observed during all IMF conditions. Enhanced Pedersen conductances within the hot spot region are observed only for the IMF Bz+/By- conditions, and the corresponding convection electric field values within the hot spot are smaller than during the other IMF conditions. Hence, the hot spot represents a region of persistent magnetopsheric electromagnetic energy input. (iii) For the southward IMF conditions, the MLT-integrated Joule heating rate without neutral winds for By- is twice the value for By+ at TRO. This can plausibly be explained by the higher average solar wind electric field values for By-.