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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 30, issue 3
Ann. Geophys., 30, 515–526, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 30, 515–526, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 07 Mar 2012

Regular paper | 07 Mar 2012

Magnetopause energy transfer dependence on the interplanetary magnetic field and the Earth's magnetic dipole axis orientation

M. Palmroth1, R. C. Fear2, and I. Honkonen1,3 M. Palmroth et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  • 3University of Helsinki, Department of Physics, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. We examine the spatial variation of magnetospheric energy transfer using a global magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulation (GUMICS-4) and a large data set of flux transfer events (FTEs) observed by the Cluster spacecraft. Our main purpose is to investigate whether it is possible to validate previous results on the spatial energy transfer variation from the GUMICS-4 simulation using the statistical occurrence of FTEs, which are manifestations of magnetospheric energy transfer. Previous simulation results have suggested that the energy transfer pattern at the magnetopause rotates according to the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) orientation, and here we investigate whether a similar rotation is seen in the locations at which FTE signatures are observed. We find that there is qualitative agreement between the simulation and observed statistics, as the peaks in both distributions rotate as a function of the IMF clock angle. However, it is necessary to take into account the modulation of the statistical distribution that is caused by a bias towards in situ FTE signatures being observed in the winter hemisphere (an effect that has previously been predicted and observed in this data set). Taking this seasonal effect into account, the FTE locations support the previous simulation results and confirm the earlier prediction that the energy transfers in the plane of the IMF. In addition, we investigate the effect of the dipole orientation (both the dipole tilt angle and its orientation in the plane perpendicular to the solar wind flow) on the energy transfer spatial distribution. We find that the energy transfer occurs mainly in the summer hemisphere, and that the dayside reconnection region is located asymmetrically about the subsolar position. Finally, we find that the energy transfer is 10% larger at equinox conditions than at solstice, contributing to the discussion concerning the semiannual variation of magnetospheric dynamics (known as "the Russell-McPherron effect").

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