Articles | Volume 26, issue 6
11 Jun 2008
 | 11 Jun 2008

SWMF simulation of field-aligned currents for a varying northward and duskward IMF with nonzero dipole tilt

H. Wang, A. J. Ridley, and H. Lühr

Abstract. This study concentrates on the FACs distribution for the varying northward and duskward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) conditions when the dipole tilt is nonzero. A global MHD simulation (the Space Weather Modeling Framework, SWMF) has been used to perform this study. Hemispheric asymmetry of the time evolution of northward IMF Bz (NBZ) FACs is found. As the IMF changes from strictly northward to duskward, NBZ FACs shift counterclockwise in both summer and winter hemispheres. However, in the winter hemisphere, the counterclockwise rotation prohibits the duskward NBZ FACs from evolving into the midday R1 FACs. The midday R1 FACs seem to be an intrusion of dawnside R1 FACs. In the summer hemisphere, the NBZ FACs can evolve into the DPY FACs, consisting of the midday R0 and R1 FACs, after the counterclockwise rotation. The hemispheric asymmetry is due to the fact that the dipole tilt favors more reconnection between the IMF and the summer magnetosphere. When mapping the NBZ and DPY FACs into the magnetosphere it is found that the NBZ currents are located on both open and closed field lines, irrespective of the IMF direction. For the DPY FACs the hemispheric asymmetry emerges: the midday R1 FACs and a small part of R0 FACs are on closed field lines in the winter hemisphere, while a small part of the midday R1 FACs and all the R0 FACs are on open field lines in the summer hemisphere. Both IMF By and dipole tilt cause the polar cap hemispheric and local time asymmetric. When the IMF is northward, the summer polar cap is closed on the nightside while the winter polar cap is open. The polar cap boundary tends to move equatorward as the IMF rotates from northward to duskward, except in the summer hemisphere, the polar cap on the dawnside shifts poleward when the clock angle is less than 10°. The further poleward displacement of the polar cap boundary on one oval side is caused by the twist of the tail plasma sheet, which is in accordance with the changing open field lines topology in the magnetotail.