Ionospheric convection response to slow, strong variations in a northward interplanetary magnetic field: A case study for January 14, 1988

We analyze ionospheric convection patterns over the polar regions during the passage of an interplanetary magnetic cloud on January 14, 1988, when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) rotated slowly in direction and had a large amplitude. Using the assimilative mapping of ionospheric electrodynamics (AMIE) procedure, we combine simultaneous observations of ionospheric drifts and magnetic perturbations from many different instruments into consistent patterns of high-latitude electrodynamics, focusing on the period of northward IMF. By combining satellite data with ground-based observations, we have generated one of the most comprehensive data sets yet assembled and used it to produce convection maps for both hemispheres. We present evidence that a lobe convection cell was embedded within normal merging convection during a period when the IMF By and Bz components were large and positive. As the IMF became predominantly northward, a strong reversed convection pattern (afternoon-to-morning potential drop of around 100 kV) appeared in the southern (summer) polar cap, while convection in the northern (winter) hemisphere became weak and disordered with a dawn-to-dusk potential drop of the order of 30 kV. These patterns persisted for about 3 hours, until the IMF rotated significantly toward the west. We interpret this behavior in terms of a recently proposed merging model for northward IMF under solstice conditions, for which lobe field lines from the hemisphere tilted toward the Sun (summer hemisphere) drape over the dayside magnetosphere, producing reverse convection in the summer hemisphere and impeding direct contact between the solar wind and field lines connected to the winter polar cap. The positive IMF Bx component present at this time could have contributed to the observed hemispheric asymmetry. Reverse convection in the summer hemisphere broke down rapidly after the ratio |By/Bz| exceeded unity, while convection in the winter hemisphere strengthened. A dominant dawn-to-dusk potential drop was established in both hemispheres when the magnitude of By exceeded that of Bz, with potential drops of the order of 100 kV, even while Bz remained northward. The later transition to southward Bz produced a gradual intensification of the convection, but a greater qualitative change occurred at the transition through |By/Bz| = 1 than at the transition through Bz = 0. The various convection patterns we derive under northward IMF conditions illustrate all possibilities previously discussed in the literature: nearly single-cell and multicell, distorted and symmetric, ordered and unordered, and sunward and antisunward.


Publication status:
Authors: Knipp, D. J., Emery, B. A., Richmond, A. D., Crooker, N. U., Hairston, M. R., Cumnock, J. A., Denig, W. F., Rich, F. J., de la Beaujardiere, O., Ruohoniemi, J. M., Rodger, A. S., Crowley, G., Ahn, B. -H., Evans, D. S., Fuller -Rowell, T. J., Friis -Christensen, E., Lockwood, M., Kroehl, H. W., Maclennan, C. G., McEwin, A., Pellinen, R. J., Morris, R. J., Burns, G. B., Papitashvili, V., Zaitzev, A., Troshichev, O., Sato, N., Sutcliffe, P., Tomlinson, L.

1 January, 1993
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics / 98
Link to published article: