Local Geomagnetic Indices and the Prediction of Auroral Power

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 9:15 AM
Patrick T Newell, Johns Hopkins Univ, Laurel, MD, United States and Jesper W Gjerloev, Johns Hopkins University - Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD, United States
As the number of magnetometer stations and data processing power increases, just how auroral power relates to geomagnetic observations becomes a quantitatively more tractable question. This paper compares Polar UVI auroral power observations during 1997 with a variety of geomagnetic indices. Local time (LT) versions of the SuperMAG auroral electojet (SME) are introduced and examined, along with the corresponding upper and lower envelopes (SMU and SML). Also, the East-West component, BE, is investigated. We also consider whether using any of the local indices is actually better at predicting local auroral power than a single global index. Each index is separated into 24 LT indices based on a sliding 3-h MLT window. The ability to predict – or better reconstruct – auroral power varies greatly with LT, peaking at 1900 MLT, where about 75% of the variance (r2) can be predicted at 1-min cadence. The aurora is fairly predictable from 1700 MLT – 0400 MLT, roughly the region in which substorms occur. Auroral power is poorly predicted from auroral electrojet indices from 0500 MLT – 1500 MLT, with the minima at 1000-1300 MLT. In the region of high predictability, the local variable which works best is BE, in contrast to long-standing expectations. However using global SME is better than any local variable. Auroral power is best predicted by combining global SME with a local index: BE from 1500-0200 MLT, and either SMU or SML from 0300-1400 MLT. In the region of the diffuse aurora, it is better to use a 30 min average than the cotemporaneous 1-min SME value, while from 1500-0200 MLT the cotemporaneous 1-min SME works best, suggesting a more direct physical relationship with the auroral circuit. These results suggest a significant role for discrete auroral currents closing locally with Pedersen currents.