Articles | Volume 31, issue 6
Regular paper
12 Jun 2013
Regular paper |  | 12 Jun 2013

IMF effect on the polar cap contraction and expansion during a period of substorms

A. T. Aikio, T. Pitkänen, I. Honkonen, M. Palmroth, and O. Amm

Abstract. The polar cap boundary (PCB) location and motion in the nightside ionosphere has been studied by using measurements from the EISCAT radars and the MIRACLE magnetometers during a period of four substorms on 18 February 2004. The OMNI database has been used for observations of the solar wind and the Geotail satellite for magnetospheric measurements. In addition, the event was modelled by the GUMICS-4 MHD simulation. The simulation of the PCB location was in a rather good agreement with the experimental estimates at the EISCAT longitude. During the first three substorm expansion phases, neither the local observations nor the global simulation showed any poleward motions of the PCB, even though the electrojets intensified. Rapid poleward motions of the PCB took place only in the early recovery phases of the substorms. Hence, in these cases the nightside reconnection rate was locally higher in the recovery phase than in the expansion phase.

In addition, we suggest that the IMF Bz component correlated with the nightside tail inclination angle and the PCB location with about a 17-min delay from the bow shock. By taking the delay into account, the IMF northward turnings were associated with dipolarizations of the magnetotail and poleward motions of the PCB in the recovery phase. The mechanism behind this effect should be studied further.