We exploit a database of high-latitude ionospheric electric potential patterns, derived from radar observations of plasma convection in the Northern Hemisphere from the years 2000–2006, to investigate the timescales of interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) control of ionospheric convection and associated magnetospheric dynamics. We parameterize the convection observations by IMF clock angle, θ (the angle between geocentric solar magnetic (GSM) north and the projection of the IMF vector onto the GSM Y-Z plane), and by an IMF timescale, τB (the length of time that a similar clock angle has been maintained prior to the convection observations being made). We find that the nature of the ionospheric convection changes with IMF clock angle, as expected from previous time-averaged studies, and that for τB∼30 min, the convection patterns closely resemble their time-averaged counterparts. However, as τB increases we find that the convection evolves away from the time-averaged patterns to reveal modified characteristic flow features. We discuss these findings in terms of solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling and consider their implications for understanding the time-dependent nature of magnetospheric dynamics.
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