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Relative contributions of large-scale and wedgelet currents in the substorm current wedge.

  • Author(s): Nishimura, Y;
  • Lyons, LR;
  • Gabrielse, C;
  • Weygand, JM;
  • Donovan, EF;
  • Angelopoulos, V
  • et al.
Abstract

We examined how much large-scale and localized upward and downward currents contribute to the substorm current wedge (SCW), and how they evolve over time, using the THEMIS all-sky imagers (ASIs) and ground magnetometers. One type of events is dominated by a single large-scale wedge, with upward currents over the surge and broad downward currents poleward-eastward of the surge. The other type of events is a composite of large-scale wedge and wedgelets associated with streamers, with each wedgelet having comparable intensity to the large-scale wedge currents. Among 17 auroral substorms with wide ASI coverage, the composite current type is more frequent than the single large-scale wedge type. The dawn-dusk size of each wedgelet is ~ 600 km in the ionosphere (~ 3.2 R E in the magnetotail, comparable to the flow channel size). We suggest that substorms have more than one type of SCW, and the composite current type is more frequent.

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