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The role of diffuse electron precipitation in the formation of subauroral polarization streams
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  • Dong Lin,
  • Kareem Sorathia,
  • Wenbin Wang,
  • Viacheslav G. Merkin,
  • Shanshan Bao,
  • Kevin H Pham,
  • Frank R. Toffoletto,
  • Xueling Shi,
  • Adam Michael,
  • John G. Lyon,
  • Jeffrey Garretson,
  • Brian J. Anderson
Dong Lin
National Center for Atmospheric Research

Corresponding Author:ldong@ucar.edu

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Kareem Sorathia
Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University
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Wenbin Wang
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Viacheslav G. Merkin
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
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Shanshan Bao
Rice University
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Kevin H Pham
National Center for Atmospheric Research
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Frank R. Toffoletto
Rice University
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Xueling Shi
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
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Adam Michael
John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory
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John G. Lyon
Dartmouth College
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Jeffrey Garretson
Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab
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Brian J. Anderson
John Hopkins Univ.
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The role of diffuse electron precipitation in forming subauroral polarization streams (SAPS) is investigated with the Multiscale Atmosphere-Geospace Environment (MAGE) model. Diffuse precipitation is derived from the distribution of drifting electrons calculated in MAGE. SAPS manifest themselves as a separate mesoscale flow channel in the duskside ionosphere when diffuse precipitation is implemented in MAGE, whereas it merges with the primary auroral convection when diffuse precipitation is turned off. SAPS overlap with the downward Region-2 field-aligned currents equatorward of diffuse precipitation, where poleward electric fields closing the Pedersen currents are strong due to a low conductance in the subauroral ionosphere. The Region-2 field-aligned currents extend to lower latitudes than diffuse precipitation because the ring current protons penetrate closer to the Earth than the electrons do. This study demonstrates the critical role of diffuse electron precipitation in determining SAPS location and structure.
Dec 2021Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics volume 126 issue 12. 10.1029/2021JA029792