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Cai_et_al-2016-Journal_of_Geophysical_Research-_Space_Physics.pdf (2.93 MB)

Joule heating hot spot at high latitudes in the afternoon sector

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-11-17, 11:53 authored by L. Cai, A. T. Aikio, S. E Milan
The afternoon Joule heating hot spot has been studied statistically by using the EISCAT Svalbard Radar (ESR) measurements at 75.4° Corrected Geomagnetic latitude (CGMLAT) and the OMNI solar wind data base. For a small subset of events, the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE) field-aligned current distributions have been available. The main results are as follows. Afternoon Joule heating hot spots are associated with high values of ionospheric electric fields and slightly enhanced Pedersen conductances. The Joule heating hot spot values are larger in summer than in winter, which can be explained by the higher Pedersen conductances during summer than winter. The afternoon Joule heating hot spots are located close to the reversals of the large-scale field-aligned current systems. The most common location is close to the Region 1/Region 2 boundary and those events are associated with sunward convecting F region plasma. In a few cases, the hot spots take place close to the Region 1/Region 0 boundary and then the ionospheric plasma is convecting antisunward. The hot spots may occur both during slow (<450 km/s) and high (>450 km/s) speed solar wind conditions. During slow-speed solar wind events, the dominant interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) direction is southward, which is the general requirement for the low-latitude magnetic merging at the dayside magnetopause. During high-speed solar wind, also northward IMF conditions appear, but those are associated with large values of the IMF |By| component, making again the dayside magnetopause merging possible. Finally, the measured afternoon hot spot Joule heating rates are not a linear function of the solar wind energy coupling function.


This work was supported by the Academy of Finland (decision 285474). We thank the EISCAT Association for the incoherent scatter radar data used in this study. EISCAT is an international association supported by China (CRIRP), Finland (SA), Japan (STEL and NIPR), Germany (DFG), Norway (NFR), Sweden (VR), and United Kingdom (NERC). The EISCAT data can be obtained via the Madrigal database ( The IMF data were provided by NASA Space Physics Data Facility via OMNIWeb ( We thank the AMPERE team and the AMPERE Science Center for providing the Iridium-derived data products (Contact: S.E.M. was supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), UK, grant ST/K001000/1.



Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics (2016) 121, 7135–7152.

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics (2016) 121


American Geophysical Union (AGU), Wiley





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Analysis code used to derive the results presented in this paper is available on request from the authors.



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