Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
Research article
07 Mar 2013
Research article |  | 07 Mar 2013

A new automatic method for estimating the peak auroral emission height from all-sky camera images

D. K. Whiter, B. Gustavsson, N. Partamies, and L. Sangalli

Abstract. This paper presents a new fully automatic method for quickly finding the average peak emission height of a single auroral structure from a pair of all-sky camera images with overlapping fields of view. The peak emission height of the aurora must be estimated in order to calculate several other important parameters, such as horizontal spatial scales, optical flow velocities, and ionospheric electric fields. In most cases the height is not measured, but a value is assumed, often about 110 km. It is unclear how accurate this assumption is. A future statistical study of the auroral height in which the method presented here will be applied to many years of observations will lead to more accurate assumptions of the height with quantitative error estimates, and therefore more accurate estimates of parameters derived using these assumed auroral heights. In the present work the performance of the new method is compared to another recent automatic method. It is found that the new method measures the peak emission height regardless of the shape of the volume emission rate profile, unlike the other recent method. However, the new method is less suitable than the other method for analysis of very wide auroral arcs (>30 km) or for aurora in the magnetic zenith of one of the images.