Measurements of the CHAMP accelerometer are utilized to investigate the average thermospheric wind distribution in the polar regions at altitudes around 400 km. This study puts special emphasis on the seasonal differences in the wind patterns. For this purpose 131 days centered on the June solstice of 2003 are considered. Within that period CHAMP's orbit is precessing once through all local times. The cross-track wind estimates of all 2030 passes are used to construct mean wind vectors for 918 equal-area cells. These bin averages are presented in corrected geomagnetic coordinates. Both hemispheres are considered simultaneously providing summer and winter responses for the same prevailing geophysical conditions. The period under study is characterized by high magnetic activity (Kp=4−) but moderate solar flux level (F10.7=124). Our analysis reveals clear wind features in the summer (Northern) Hemisphere. Over the polar cap there is a fast day-to-night flow with mean speeds surpassing 600 m/s in the dawn sector. At auroral latitudes we find strong westward zonal winds on the dawn side. On the dusk side, however, an anti-cyclonic vortex is forming. The dawn/dusk asymmetry is attributed to the combined action of Coriolis and centrifugal forces. Along the auroral oval the sunward streaming plasma causes a stagnation of the day-to-night wind. This effect is particularly clear on the dusk side. On the dawn side it is evident only from midnight to 06:00 MLT. The winter (Southern) Hemisphere reveals similar wind features, but they are less well ordered. The mean day-to-night wind over the polar cap is weaker by about 35%. Otherwise, the seasonal differences are mainly confined to the dayside (06:00-18:00 MLT). In addition, the larger offset between geographic and geomagnetic pole in the south also causes hemispheric differences of the thermospheric wind distribution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Atmospheric Science
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science