Based on 5 years (2001–2005) of magnetic field measurements made by the CHAMP satellite, latitudinal profiles of the equatorial electrojet (EEJ) have been derived. This study provides a comprehensive characterization of the reverse current EEJ sidebands. These westward currents peak at ±5° quasi‐dipole latitude with typical amplitudes of 35% of the main EEJ. The diurnal amplitude variation is quite comparable with that of the EEJ. Similarly to the EEJ, the intensity is increasing with solar EUV flux, but with a steeper slope, indicating that not only the conductivity plays a role. For the longitude distribution we find, in general, larger amplitudes in the Western than in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is presently a common understanding that the reverse current EEJ sidebands are generated by eastward zonal winds at altitudes above about 120 km. In particular, a positive vertical gradient of wind speed generates westward currents at magnetic latitudes outside of 2° dip latitude. Interesting information about these features can be deduced from the sidebands' tidal characteristics. The longitudinal variation of the amplitude is dominated by a wave‐1 pattern, which can primarily be attributed to the tidal components SPW1 and SW3. In case of the hemispheric amplitude differences these same two wave‐1 components dominate. The ratio between sideband amplitude and main EEJ is largely controlled by the tidal features of the EEJ. The longitudinal patterns of the latitude, where the sidebands peak, resemble to some extent those of the amplitude. Current densities become larger when the peaks move closer to the magnetic equator.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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