Radar observations of magnetospheric activity during extremely quiet solar wind conditions
During a period of extremely quiet solar wind conditions from 8 to 10 March 1997, strong activity was observed by the Southern Hemisphere Auroral Radar Experiment Super Dual Auroral Radar Network radars in the Antarctic premidnight ionosphere. This activity took the form of quasiperiodic flow bursts with ionospheric drift velocities exceeding 2 km s−1. Data from the Satellite Experiments Simultaneous with Antarctic Measurements (SESAME) automated geophysical observatories in Antarctica and Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and Polar satellites are used with the radar data to study the convection flow in the southern polar ionosphere at the time of these flow bursts. The study shows that the bursts occurred with an approximate period of 12 min. Their direction was westward, and they were superimposed on a background westward flow. In the premidnight sector this is interpreted as a flow associated with dipolarization of the magnetotail tail field. There is a band of strong particle precipitation associated with the flow bursts. The location suggests that they occur deep in the magnetotail and cannot be associated with any lobe reconnection. They are at a latitude near the region where a viscously driven convection cell is expected to exist, and their sense is that of the return convection flow in such a cell. The results suggest that there is an internal magnetospheric mechanism for sporadic energy release in the magnetotail that need not be associated with changes in solar wind reconnection on the magnetopause.