Magnetospheric signatures of ionospheric density cavities observed by cluster

A. J. B. Russell (Lead / Corresponding author), T. Karlsson, A. N. Wright

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    We present Cluster measurements of large amplitude electric fields correlated with intense downward field-aligned currents, observed during a nightside crossing of the auroral zone. The data are reproduced by a simple model of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling which, under different conditions, can also produce a divergent electric field signature in the downward current region, or correlation between the electric and perturbed magnetic fields. We conclude that strong electric field associated with intense downward field-aligned current, such as this observation, is a signature of ionospheric plasma depletion caused by the downward current. It is also shown that the electric field in the downward current region correlates with downward current density if a background field is present, e.g. due to magnetospheric convection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1876-1887
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
    Issue number3
    Early online date19 Mar 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


    • magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling
    • Cluster satellite
    • ionospheric depletion


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