The correlation of ULF waves and auroral intensity before, during and after substorm expansion phase onset

I. Jonathan Rae, Clare E. J. Watt, Kyle R. Murphy, Harald U. Frey, Louis G. Ozeke, David K. Milling, Ian R. Mann

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26 Citations (Scopus)


We present case studies of the evolution of magnetic wave amplitudes and auroral intensity through the late growth phase and the expansion phase of the substorm cycle. We present strong evidence that substorm-related auroral enhancements are clearly and demonstrably linked to ULF wave amplitudes observed at the same location. In most cases, we find that the highest correlations are observed when the magnetometer time series is advanced in time, indicating that the ULF wave amplitudes start to grow before measured auroral intensities, though interestingly this is not always the case. Further we discuss the four possible reasons that may be able to explain both the timing and the high correlations between these two phenomena, including: a simple coincidence, an artifact of instrumental effects, the response of the ionosphere to magnetic waves and auroral particle precipitation, and finally that ULF waves and auroral particle precipitation are physically linked. We discount coincidence and instrumental effects since in the studies presented here they are unlikely or in general will contribute negligible effects, and we find that the ionospheric response to waves and precipitation can explain some, but not all of the results contained within this paper. Specifically, ionospheric response to substorm waves and auroral precipitation cannot explain that the result that previous studies have shown, that onset of ULF wave activity and the onset of auroral particle precipitation occur at the same time and in the same location. This leaves the possibility that ULF waves and auroral particles are physically linked.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberA8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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