Pulsed flows observed during an interval of prolonged northward IMF
- Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
Abstract. On the 22 December 2002 the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) was directed northwards for more than 12h. The Northern and Southern Hemisphere SuperDARN radars were used to study global high-latitude convection during this interval, complemented by data from the ACE and DMSP F13 spacecraft. The relative magnitudes of the IMF By and Bz components varied during this period. When the magnitude of the By component was comparable with or dominated the Bz component, signatures of simultaneous low-latitude and lobe reconnection were observed. Specifically two "standard" merging cells were observed in both hemispheres. In the Northern Hemisphere a high-latitude lobe cell was observed within the dusk merging cell, and there was also evidence of a narrow viscous cell located equatorward of this lobe cell. We observed the ionospheric signatures of flux transfer events (FTEs) in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, occurring with a periodicity of ~15min. In the Northern Hemisphere the FTEs were associated with a stepwise equatorward progression of the equatorward boundary of radar backscatter on the dayside. When the IMF Bz component was predominantly greater than the IMF By component, we observed a four-cell convection pattern in the Northern Hemisphere, with pulses of reverse reconnection and an associated stepwise poleward retraction of the equatorward boundary of radar backscatter occurring every ~25min. These observations are consistent with pulsed lobe reconnection occurring in both hemispheres, closing open flux and adding closed flux to the dayside magnetopause. So, during this northward IMF interval the location of the sites of reconnection between the IMF and the Earth's magnetosphere, and thus the form of reconnection process, varied with changing IMF conditions. However, the reconnection remained pulsed, with lobe-only reconnection having a significantly longer periodicity compared with simultaneous lobe and low-latitude reconnection.