Articles | Volume 22, issue 6
Ann. Geophys., 22, 2181–2199, 2004
Ann. Geophys., 22, 2181–2199, 2004

  14 Jun 2004

14 Jun 2004

Simultaneous observations of magnetopause flux transfer events and of their associated signatures at ionospheric altitudes

K. A. McWilliams1, G. J. Sofko1, T. K. Yeoman2, S. E. Milan2, D. G. Sibeck3,7, T. Nagai4, T. Mukai5, I. J. Coleman6, T. Hori7, and F. J. Rich8 K. A. McWilliams et al.
  • 1Institute of Space and Atmospheric Studies, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
  • 2Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  • 3NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
  • 4Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan
  • 5Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Kanagawa, Japan
  • 6British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  • 7Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, USA
  • 8AFRL/VSBXP, Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts, USA

Abstract. An extensive variety of instruments, including Geotail, DMSP F11, SuperDARN, and IMP-8, were monitoring the dayside magnetosphere and ionosphere between 14:00 and 18:00 UT on 18 January 1999. The location of the instruments provided an excellent opportunity to study in detail the direct coupling between the solar wind, the magnetosphere, and the ionosphere. Flux transfer events were observed by Geotail near the magnetopause in the dawn side magnetosheath at about 4 magnetic local time during exclusively northward interplanetary magnetic field conditions. Excellent coverage of the entire dayside high-latitude ionosphere was achieved by the Northern Hemisphere SuperDARN radars. On the large scale, temporally and spatially, the dayside magnetosphere convection remained directly driven by the interplanetary magnetic field, despite the highly variable interplanetary magnetic field conditions, including long periods of northward field. The SuperDARN radars in the dawn sector also measured small-scale temporally varying convection velocities, which are indicative of flux transfer event activity, in the vicinity of the magnetic footprint of Geotail. DMSP F11 in the Southern Hemisphere measured typical cusp precipitation simultaneously with and magnetically conjugate to a single flux transfer event signature detected by Geotail. A study of the characteristics of the DMSP ion spectrogram revealed that the source plasma from the reconnection site originated downstream of the subsolar point. Detailed analyses of locally optimised coordinate systems for individual flux transfer events at Geotail are consistent with a series of flux tubes protruding from the magnetopause, and originating from a high-latitude reconnection site in the Southern Hemisphere. This high-latitude reconnection site agrees with plasma injected away from the subsolar point. This is the first simultaneous and independent determination from ionospheric and space-based data of the location of magnetic reconnection.