Polar cap neutral density anomaly (PCNDA) with large mass density enhancements over the background has been frequently observed in the polar cap during magnetic storms. By tracing field lines to the magnetosphere from the polar ionosphere, we divide the polar cap into two regions, an open field line (OFL) region with field lines connecting to the magnetopause boundary and a distant tail field line (TFL) region threaded with magnetotail lobe field lines. A statistical study of neutral density observed by the Challenging Minisatellite Payload satellite during major magnetic storms with Dst < −100 from July 2001 to 2006 indicates that over 85% of density anomalies were detected in the TFL region, at about 18° to 25° equatorward the center of the OFL region. PCNDAs were frequently accompanied by plasma clouds with peak density greater than 105 #/cm3. Modeling of plasma cloud drift paths suggests that plasma clouds originating in the dayside ionosphere could convect through the OFL region following the zero‐potential line and reach the PCNDA locations. Plasma clouds could become stagnate in the TFL region, allowing a long duration of collisions with the neutral gas and possibly contributing to heating of PCNDAs. The PCNDA observations are interpreted as evidence that traveling atmospheric disturbance could be generated in the nightside polar cap. From the PCNDA size and speed of sound at 400 km, we derive an initial energy deposition duration for producing traveling atmospheric disturbance in the range from 0.5 to 2.5 hr.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ; ;
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