A Study of Automatically Detected Flow Channels in the Polar Cap Ionosphere
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This paper presents a new algorithm for detecting high‐speed flow channels in the polar cap. The algorithm was applied to Super Dual Auroral Radar Network data, specifically to data from the new Longyearbyen radar. This radar is located at 78.2°N, 16.0°E geographical coordinates looking north‐east, and is therefore at an ideal location to measure flow channels in the high‐latitude polar cap. The algorithm detected >500 events over 1 year of observations, and within this paper two case studies are considered in more detail. A flow channel on “old‐open field lines” located on the dawn flank was directly driven under quiet conditions over 13 min. This flow channel contributed to a significant fraction (60%) of the cross polar cap potential and was located on the edge of a polar cap arc. Another case study follows the development of a flow channel on newly opened field lines within the cusp. This flow channel is a spontaneously driven event forming under strong solar wind driving and is intermittently excited over the course of almost an hour. As they provide a high fraction of the cross polar cap potential, these small‐scale structures are vital for understanding the transport of magnetic flux over the polar cap.