Instantaneous mapping of high-latitude convection with coherent HF radars


  • C. Hanuise,

  • C. Senior,

  • J. -C. Cerisier,

  • J. -P. Villain,

  • R. A. Greenwald,

  • J. M. Ruohoniemi,

  • K. B. Baker


Coherent HF radars at Goose Bay (Labrador) and Schefferville (Quebec) are used to study plasma convection in the high-latitude ionosphere. Maps of the two-dimensional flow pattern are obtained by merging simultaneous sets of radial velocity data, each with a time resolution of a few minutes. From a time sequence of such maps we have separated the changes in flow due to magnetic local time (MLT) variations over the region of observation, from those due to UT time variations. We study in detail the convection in the early morning sector observed on October 15, 1989, when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) reversed from southward to northward. This IMF reversal was not associated with a clear response in the nightside convection but rather with several sudden changes, some of which anticipated the Bz reversal. We suggest that these changes are associated with delayed and superposed ionospheric responses to previous IMF perturbations, or to local effects. After the IMF reversal from south to north our observations of westward and southwestward velocities in the 71°-77° invariant latitude range are consistent with the earlier simulations for Bz > 0 and By < 0. During the period of steady northward IMF after the reversal the convection pattern was observed to reconfigure slowly: a region of large westward velocities progressively moved poleward, while convection in the low-latitude part of the field of view faded away. The time constant of this slow reconfiguration was about 1 hour and varied with MLT, such that it was larger closer to midnight. These data, combined with particle data from successive passes of the DMSP satellites, provide information on the contraction of the polar cap after the IMF Bz reversal and on the MLT dependency of the velocity at which this contraction occurs. They show that the polar cap contracts more rapidly in the daytime than in the nightime and more rapidly in the postmidnight sector than in the premidnight sector.