Articles | Volume 29, issue 3
10 Mar 2011
 | 10 Mar 2011

The dependence of Pi2 waveforms on periodic velocity enhancements within bursty bulk flows

K. R. Murphy, I. J. Rae, I. R. Mann, A. P. Walsh, D. K. Milling, and A. Kale

Abstract. Pi2s are a category of Ultra Low Frequency (ULF) waves associated with the onset of magnetic substorms. Recent work has suggested that the deceleration of bulk plasma flows in the central plasmasheet, known as bursty bulk flows (BBFs), are able to directly-drive Pi2 oscillations. Some of these studies have further shown evidence that there is a one-to-one correlation between Pi2 magnetic waveforms observed on the ground and periodic peaks in flow velocity within the BBF, known as flow bursts. Utilising a favourable conjunction between the Geotail spacecraft and the Canadian Array for Real-time Investigations of Magnetic Activity (CARISMA) magnetometer array on 31 May 1998, we examine the causality of the link between BBF flow bursts and Pi2 waveforms. Using a series of analytical tests in both the time and frequency domains, we find that while the Pi2 and BBF waveforms are very similar, the ground response for this event occurs prior to the observed flow enhancements in the magnetotail. We conclude that during this specific case study the temporal variations of the flow bursts within the BBF are not directly-driving the observed ground-based Pi2 waveforms, despite the fact that a visual inspection of both time-series might initially suggest that there is a causal relationship. We postulate that rather than there being a direct causal relation, the similar waveforms observed in both Pi2s and BBFs may result from temporal variations in a common source for both the BBFs and the Pi2s, such as magnetic reconnection in the tail, this source modulating both the Pi2 and BBF at the same frequency.