Brightening of onset arc precedes the dipolarization onset: THEMIS observations of two events on 1 March 2008
Abstract. We present a new M-I coupling model of substorm during southward IMF based on the THEMIS observations of two events on 1 March 2008. The first event (E-1) was classified as a pseudo-breakup: brightening of the onset arc preceded the first dipolarization onset by ∼71 ± 3 s, but the breakup arcs faded within ∼5 min without substantial poleward expansion and the dipolarization stopped and reversed to thinning. The second event (E-2) was identified as a substorm: brightening of the second onset arc preceded the second dipolarization onset by ∼80 ± 3 s, leading to a full-scale expanding auroral bulge during the substorm expansion phase for ∼20 min. The Alfvén travel time from the ionosphere to the dipolarization onset region is estimated at ∼69.3 s in E-1; at ∼80.3 s in E-2, which matched well with the observed time delay of the dipolarization onset after the brightening of the onset arc, respectively in E-1 and E-2. Brightening of the onset arc precedes the dipolarization onset suggest that the onset arc brightening is caused by the intense upward field-aligned currents originating from the divergence of the Cowling electrojet in the ionosphere. The Cowling electrojet current loop (CECL) is formed to close the field-aligned currents at all times. The closure current in the Alfvén wavefront is anti-parallel to the cross-tail current. Dipolarization onset occurs when the Alfvén wavefront incident on the near-Earth plasma sheet to disrupt the cross-tail current in the dipolarization region. Slow MHD waves dominate the disruption of the cross-tail current in the dipolarization region.