Signatures of Alfvenic Field-Line Resonance in the Behavior of Preonset Auroral Arcs
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The evolution of preonset auroral arcs before full-scale auroral poleward expansion (the time T0 indicates the expansion onset) is studied based on ground-based optical observations filtered by the gradient method. In one of the three events studied in detail, the preonset arc exhibits periodic poleward excursions ~10 min before T0. The excursions extend over 1° in latitude, being repeated with a period of 2.5 min (frequency 6.7 mHz), and can be explained by the theory of classical (i.e., linear nondispersive) Alfvénic fieldline resonance (FLR), which is proposed to form and evolve at the location of subsequent substorm initiation. In two other events, the preonset arc evolves somewhat differently. Having appeared 15–20 min before T0, the arc brightens and develops a fine structure in the transverse direction, with new arcs detaching and propagating away from it. Such signatures may indicate a nonlinear dispersive FLR that periodically produces soliton-like structures propagating across and away from the resonance layer. The involved nonlinearity has a ponderomotive nature. The dispersive effects become significant if, as a result of fine structuring, perturbations are produced on the scales of order of the electron inertial length or ion gyroradius.
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