University of Oulu

Kozlovsky, A., Myllymaa, M., Lukianova, R., Raita, T., & Lester, M. (2023). Influence of atmospheric circulation on orientation of auroral arcs. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 128, e2023JA031294. https://doi. org/10.1029/2023JA031294

Influence of atmospheric circulation on orientation of auroral arcs

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Author: Kozlovsky, A.1; Myllymaa, M.1; Lukianova, R.1;
Organizations: 1Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory of the University of Oulu, Sodankylä, Finland
2Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Geophysical Union, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-07


We investigated statistically the orientation of about 10,000 auroral arcs observed during 2016–2021 in Abisko (68.36°N, 18.81°E, Sweden) in the equatorward part of the nightside auroral oval. The observations were made between 19 and 06 magnetic local time (MLT). On average, the orientation of the arcs, that is, the angle between an arc and the West-East direction, linearly changed with MLT at the rate 2.2°/hr. In most cases the mean orientation of the auroral arcs near midnight was parallel to the geomagnetic latitude of Abisko, except a few late winter or spring months. These anomalies cannot be explained by geomagnetic disturbances or interplanetary conditions. They do, however, coincide with spring transitions in the atmospheric circulations from winter-to summer-type. The spring transitions were manifested in the data of a meteor radar in the region of observations as reversals of the zonal wind at altitudes 90–100 km from eastward to westward. We propose that these spring transition changes in the global atmospheric circulation couple also the overlying thermosphere at 100–150 km where neutral winds may affect the ionosphere and subsequently the whole ionosphere-magnetosphere system. Then, changes in the coupled ionosphere-magnetosphere system are manifested in changes of the orientation of auroral arcs.

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Series: Journal of geophysical research. Space physics
ISSN: 2169-9380
ISSN-E: 2169-9402
ISSN-L: 2169-9380
Volume: 128
Issue: 7
Article number: e2023JA031294
DOI: 10.1029/2023JA031294
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 115 Astronomy and space science
Funding: RL acknowledges support from the Academy of Finland via Grant 339849. ML acknowledges support through UK-STFC Grant ST/S000429/1.
Dataset Reference: The SGO emCCD all-sky camera ( is part of the MIRACLE network's database ( The OMNI data were obtained from the CDAWeb interface at the website The monthly values of the sunspot number between 2016 and 2021 were retrieved from the World Data Center SILSO, Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels at The data from the Sodankylä meteor radar are available at Computation of the main geomagnetic field model parameters and transformations from the geographic coordinates to the CGM coordinates were made at Specific data of the paper are available at
Copyright information: ©2023. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.