Comparison between SuperDARN flow vectors and equivalent ionospheric currents from ground magnetometer arrays
journal contributionposted on 24.10.2012, 08:56 by J. M. Weygand, O. Amm, V. Angelopoulos, S. E. Milan, A. Grocott, H. Gleisner, C. Stolle
 Equivalent ionospheric currents obtained with the spherical elementary current systems (SECS) method and derived from nearly 100 ground magnetometers spread over North America and Greenland are compared with ionospheric flow vectors measured by the SuperDARN radars during both the summer and winter seasons. This comparison is done over a range of spatial separations, magnetic latitudes, magnetic local times, and auroral electrojet activity to investigate under what conditions the vectors are anti-parallel to one another. Our results show that in general the equivalent ionospheric currents are anti-parallel to the flows and the best results are achieved within the auroral oval during active geomagnetic conditions in the dawn, dusk and noon sectors in the northern hemisphere summer. These results indicate the best anti-parallel alignment occurs when the currents and flows are large and well defined. Factors that may influence the alignment include ionospheric conductivity gradients and quiet time backgrounds. Our results can be used to approximate the macroscopic (∼1000 km) ionospheric convection patterns. The SECS maps represent a value-added product from the raw magnetometer database and can be used for contextual interpretation; they can help with our understanding of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling mechanisms using ground arrays and the magnetospheric spacecraft data, and they can be used as input for other techniques.