Articles | Volume 29, issue 9
08 Sep 2011
 | 08 Sep 2011

A statistical and event study of magnetotail dipolarization fronts

D. Schmid, M. Volwerk, R. Nakamura, W. Baumjohann, and M. Heyn

Abstract. A study of dipolarization fronts of the Earth's magnetotail has been performed using seven years (2001–2007) of Cluster data. Events both with and without high-speed earthward flows are included. A superposed epoch analysis of the data shows that the dipolarization is preceeded by a decrease of Bz before the increase. The duration of the dipolarization tends to be decreasing with increasing velocity of the plasma flows. The thickness of the dipolarization front is on average 1.8 plasma inertial lengths, independent of the plasma velocity. We find that the events fall into two categories: Earthward and tailward moving dipolarizations. The dipolarization fronts can be assumed to be tangential discontinuities and the currents on the front have mainly a perpendicular component.