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High-latitude plasma convection based on SuperDARN observations and the locally divergence free criterion
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  • William A. Bristow,
  • Larry R. Lyons,
  • Yukitoshi (Toshi) Nishimura,
  • Simon George Shepherd,
  • Eric F. Donovan
William A. Bristow
Pennsylvania State University

Corresponding Author:wab5217@psu.edu

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Larry R. Lyons
University of California Los Angeles
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Yukitoshi (Toshi) Nishimura
Boston University
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Simon George Shepherd
Dartmouth College
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Eric F. Donovan
University of Calgary
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A new technique for estimating the global-scale pattern of magnetospheric convection in the ionosphere is presented. The technique uses the SuperDARN line-of-sight velocity observations combined with an empirical convection model and the assumption that the resulting velocity field is divergence free. In contrast to other techniques for convection estimation, it does not express the velocity field in terms of known basis vectors and it does not assume that the velocity can be determined from a static potential. The velocity is estimated by applying Bayesian inverse theory to the input data, model, and constraints. Linear equations for the plasma velocity at every point in the domain are solved simultaneously in a least-squares sense. Application of the technique results in convection patterns with spatial resolution equal to the calculation grid. The resulting patterns conform with expectations based on the observed IMF conditions and display features that show close correspondence to simultaneously observed features in the auroral luminosity.