Articles | Volume 31, issue 9
Ann. Geophys., 31, 1611–1617, 2013

Special issue: Dynamical processes in space plasmas II

Ann. Geophys., 31, 1611–1617, 2013

Regular paper 27 Sep 2013

Regular paper | 27 Sep 2013

Determination of wave vectors using the phase differencing method

S. N. Walker1 and I. Moiseenko2 S. N. Walker and I. Moiseenko
  • 1Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
  • 2Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Abstract. Due to the collisionless nature of space plasmas, plasma waves play an important role in the redistribution of energy between the various particle populations in many regions of geospace. In order to fully comprehend such mechanisms it is necessary to characterise the nature of the waves present. This involves the determination of properties such as wave vector k. There are a number of methods used to calculate k based on the multipoint measurements that are now available. These methods rely on the fact that the same wave packet is simultaneously observed at two or more locations whose separation is small in comparison to the correlation length of the wave packet. This limitation restricts the analysis to low frequency (MHD) waves. In this paper we propose an extension to the phase differencing method to enable the correlation of measurements that were not made simultaneously but differ temporally by a number of wave periods. The method is illustrated using measurements of magnetosonic waves from the Cluster STAFF search coil magnetometer. It is shown that it is possible to identify wave packets whose coherence length is much less than the separation between the measurement locations. The resulting dispersion is found to agree with theoretical results.