The effects of interplanetary magnetic field orientation on dayside high-latitude ionospheric convection


  • R. A. Heelis


The Atmosphere Explorer C data base of northern hemisphere ionospheric convection signatures at high latitudes is examined during times when the interplanetary magnetic field orientation is relatively stable. It is found that when the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) has its expected garden hose orientation, the center of a region where the ion flow rotates from sunward to antisunward is displaced from local noon toward dawn irrespective of the sign of By. Poleward of this rotation region, called the cleft, the ion convection is directed toward dawn or dusk depending on whether By is positive or negative, respectively. The observed flow geometry can be explained in terms of a magnetosphere solar wind interaction in which merging is favored in either the prenoon northern hemisphere or the prenoon southern hemisphere when the IMF has a normal sector structure that is toward or away, respectively.