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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 24, issue 11
Ann. Geophys., 24, 3059–3069, 2006
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-24-3059-2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 24, 3059–3069, 2006
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-24-3059-2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  22 Nov 2006

22 Nov 2006

On the characterization of magnetic reconnection in global MHD simulations

T. V. Laitinen1, P. Janhunen1,2, T. I. Pulkkinen1, M. Palmroth1, and H. E. J. Koskinen1,2 T. V. Laitinen et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Space Research, PL 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 2University of Helsinki, Department of Physical Sciences, PL 64, 00014 Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. The conventional definition of reconnection rate as the electric field parallel to an x-line is problematic in global MHD simulations for several reasons: the x-line itself may be hard to find in a non-trivial geometry such as at the magnetopause, and the lack of realistic resistivity modelling leaves us without reliable non-convective electric field. In this article we describe reconnection characterization methods that avoid those problems and are practical to apply in global MHD simulations. We propose that the reconnection separator line can be identified as the region where magnetic field lines of different topological properties meet, rather than by local considerations. The global convection associated with reconnection is then quantified by calculating the transfer of mass, energy or magnetic field across the boundary of closed and open field line regions. The extent of the diffusion region is determined from the destruction of electromagnetic energy, given by the divergence of the Poynting vector. Integrals of this energy conversion provide a way to estimate the total reconnection efficiency.

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