Magnetospheric signatures of ionospheric density cavities observed by Cluster
Publication date: 19 March 2015
Authors: Russell, A. J. B., Karlsson, T., and Wright, A. N.
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Copyright: ©2015. American Geophysical UnionFirst published online: 19 March 2015
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.