Journal cover Journal topic
Annales Geophysicae An open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Ann. Geophys., 24, 2005-2013, 2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
09 Aug 2006
Cluster observation of plasma flow reversal in the magnetotail during a substorm
A. T. Y. Lui1, Y. Zheng1, Y. Zhang1, S. Livi1, H. Rème2, M. W. Dunlop3, G. Gustafsson4, S. B. Mende5, C. Mouikis6, and L. M. Kistler6 1JHU/APL, Laurel, MD 20723-6099, USA
2CESR, BP4346, 31028 Toulouse Cedex 4, Toulouse, France
3Space Science and Technology Department, RAL, Chilton, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0QX, UK
4Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala Division, S-755 91 Uppsala, Sweden
5University of California, Space Sciences Laboratory, 7 Gauss Way, Berkeley, CA 94720-7450, USA
6University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824-3525, USA
Abstract. We investigate in detail a reversal of plasma flow from tailward to earthward detected by Cluster at the downstream distance of ~19 RE in the midnight sector of the magnetotail on 22 August 2001. This flow reversal was accompanied by a sign reversal of the Bz component and occurred during the late substorm expansion phase as revealed by simultaneous global view of auroral activity from IMAGE. We examine the associated Hall current system signature, current density, electric field, Lorentz force, and current dissipation/dynamo term, the last two parameters being new features that have not been studied previously for plasma flow reversals. It is found that (1) there was no clear quadrupole Hall current system signature organized by the flow reversal time, (2) the x-component of the Lorentz force did not change sign while the other two did, (3) the timing sequence of flow reversal from the Cluster configuration did not match tailward motion of a single plasma flow source, (4) the electric field was occasionally dawnward, producing a dynamo effect, and (5) the electric field was occasionally larger at the high-latitude plasma sheet than near the neutral sheet. These observations are consistent with the current disruption model for substorms in which these disturbances are due to shifting dominance of multiple current disruption sites and turbulence at the observing location.

Citation: Lui, A. T. Y., Zheng, Y., Zhang, Y., Livi, S., Rème, H., Dunlop, M. W., Gustafsson, G., Mende, S. B., Mouikis, C., and Kistler, L. M.: Cluster observation of plasma flow reversal in the magnetotail during a substorm, Ann. Geophys., 24, 2005-2013, doi:10.5194/angeo-24-2005-2006, 2006.
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