The auroral and ionospheric flow signatures of dual lobe reconnection
1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
2Institut d'Atmospherique et de Geophysique, Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium
Abstract. We present the first substantial evidence for the occurrence of dual lobe reconnection from ionospheric flows and auroral signatures. The process of dual lobe reconnection refers to an interplanetary magnetic field line reconnecting with lobe field lines in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Two bursts of sunward plasma flow across the noon portion of the open/closed field line boundary (OCB), indicating magnetic flux closure at the dayside, were observed in SuperDARN radar data during a period of strongly northward IMF. The OCB is identified from spacecraft, radar backscatter, and auroral observations. In order for dual lobe reconnection to take place, we estimate that the interplanetary magnetic field clock angle must be within ±10° of zero (North). The total flux crossing the OCB during each burst is small (1.8% and 0.6% of the flux contained within the polar cap for the two flows). A brightening of the noon portion of the northern auroral oval was observed as the clock angle passed through zero, and is thought to be due to enhanced precipitating particle fluxes due to the occurrence of reconnection at two locations along the field line. The number of solar wind protons captured by the flux closure process was estimated to be ~2.5×1030 (4 tonnes by mass), sufficient to populate the cold, dense plasma sheet observed following this interval.
Citation: Imber, S. M., Milan, S. E., and Hubert, B.: The auroral and ionospheric flow signatures of dual lobe reconnection, Ann. Geophys., 24, 3115-3129, doi:10.5194/angeo-24-3115-2006, 2006.