Articles | Volume 24, issue 1
07 Mar 2006
 | 07 Mar 2006

Flux Transfer Events: 1. generation mechanism for strong southward IMF

J. Raeder

Abstract. We use a global numerical model of the interaction of the solar wind and the interplanetary magnetic field with Earth's magnetosphere to study the formation process of Flux Transfer Events (FTEs) during strong southward IMF. We find that: (i) The model produces essentially all observational features expected for FTEs, in particular the bipolar signature of the magnetic field BN component, the correct polarity, duration, and intermittency of that bipolar signature, strong core fields and enhanced core pressure, and flow enhancements; (ii) FTEs only develop for large dipole tilt whereas in the case of no dipole tilt steady magnetic reconnection occurs at the dayside magnetopause; (iii) the basic process by which FTEs are produced is the sequential generation of new X-lines which makes dayside reconnection inherently time dependent and leads to a modified form of dual or multiple X-line reconnection; (iv) the FTE generation process in this model is not dependent on specific assumptions about microscopic processes; (v) the average period of FTEs can be explained by simple geometric arguments involving magnetosheath convection; (vi) FTEs do not develop in the model if the numerical resolution is too coarse leading to too much numerical diffusion; and (vii) FTEs for nearly southward IMF and large dipole tilt, i.e., near solstice, should only develop in the winter hemisphere, which provides a testable prediction of seasonal modulation. The semiannual modulation of intermittent FTE reconnection versus steady reconnection is also expected to modulate magnetospheric and ionospheric convection and may thus contribute to the semiannual variation of geomagnetic activity.