Articles | Volume 31, issue 2
Regular paper
26 Feb 2013
Regular paper |  | 26 Feb 2013

Magnetosheath dynamic pressure enhancements: occurrence and typical properties

M. O. Archer and T. S. Horbury

Abstract. The first comprehensive statistical study of large-amplitude (> 100%) transient enhancements of the magnetosheath dynamic pressure reveals events of up to ~ 15 times the ambient dynamic pressure with durations up to 3 min and an average duration of around 30 s, predominantly downstream of the quasi-parallel shock. The dynamic pressure transients are most often dominated by velocity increases along with a small fractional increase in the density, though the velocity is generally only deflected by a few degrees. Superposed wavelet transforms of the magnetic field show that, whilst most enhancements exhibit changes in the magnetosheath magnetic field, the majority are not associated with changes in the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF). However, there is a minority of enhancements that do appear to be associated with solar wind discontinuities which cannot be explained simply by random events. In general, it is found that during periods of magnetosheath dynamic pressure enhancements the IMF is steadier than usual. This suggests that a stable foreshock and hence foreshock structures or processes may be important in the generation of the majority of magnetosheath dynamic pressure enhancements.