The ionospheric footprint of antiparallel merging regions on the dayside magnetopause
Abstract. The antiparallel merging hypothesis states that reconnection takes place on the dayside magnetopause where the solar and geomagnetic fields are oppositely directed. With this criterion, we have mapped the predicted merging regions to the ionosphere using the Tsyganenko 96 magnetic field model, distinguishing between regions of sub-Alfvénic and super-Alfvénic magnetosheath flow, and identifying the day-night terminator. We present the resulting shape, width and latitude of the ionospheric dayside merging regions in both hemispheres, showing their dependence on the Earth's dipole tilt. The resulting seasonal variation of the longitudinal width is consistent with the conjugate electric fields in the northern and southern cusps, as measured by the SuperDARN HF radars, for example. We also find a seasonal shift in latitude similar to that observed in satellite cusp data.
Key words: Ionosphere (ionosphere-magnetosphere interactions) · Magnetospheric physics (magnetopause · cusp and boundary layers; magnetosphere-ionosphere interactions)