Articles | Volume 25, issue 1
01 Feb 2007
 | 01 Feb 2007

A comparison between FUV remote sensing of magnetotail stretching and the T01 model during quiet conditions and growth phases

C. Blockx, J.-C. Gérard, V. Coumans, B. Hubert, and M. Meurant

Abstract. In a previous study, Blockx et al. (2005) showed that the SI12 camera on board the IMAGE spacecraft is an excellent tool to remotely determine the position of the isotropy boundary (IB) in the ionosphere, and thus is able to provide a reasonable estimate of the amount of stretching of the magnetic field lines in the magetotail. By combining an empirical model of the magnetospheric configuration with Sergeev's criterion for non-adiabatic motion, it is also possible to obtain a theoretical position of IB in the ionosphere, for known conditions in the solar wind. Earlier studies have demonstrated the inadequacy of the Tsyganenko-1989 (T89) model to quantitatively reproduce the field line stretching, particularly during growth phases. In this study, we reexamine this question using the T01 model which considers the time history of the solar wind parameters. We compare the latitude of IB derived from SI12 global images near local midnight with that calculated from the T01 model and the Sergeev's criterion. Observational and theoretical results are found to frequently disagree. We use in situ measurements of the magnetic field with the GOES-8 satellite to discriminate which of the two components in the calculation of the theoretical position of the IB (the T01 model or Sergeev's criterion) induces the discrepancy. For very quiet magnetic conditions, we find that statistically the T01 model approximately predicts the correct location of the maximum proton precipitation. However, large discrepancies are observed in individual cases, as demonstrated by the large scatter of predicted latitudes. For larger values of the AE index, the model fails to predict the observed latitude of the maximum proton intensity, as a consequence of the lack of consideration of the cross-tail current component which produces a more elongated field configuration at the location of the proton injection along the field lines. We show that it is possible to match the observed location of the maximum proton precipitation by decreasing the current sheet half-thickness D parameter. We thus conclude that underestimation of the field line stretching leads to inadequately prediction of the boundary latitude of the non-adiabatic proton precipitation region.