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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 25, issue 7
Ann. Geophys., 25, 1617–1627, 2007
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-25-1617-2007
© Author(s) 2007. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 25, 1617–1627, 2007
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-25-1617-2007
© Author(s) 2007. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  30 Jul 2007

30 Jul 2007

Observations of significant flux closure by dual lobe reconnection

S. M. Imber1, S. E. Milan1, and B. Hubert2 S. M. Imber et al.
  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
  • 2Institut d'Atmospherique et de Geophysique, Université de Liège, Liège, Belgium

Abstract. We present an interval of dual lobe reconnection during which interplanetary magnetic field lines are captured by the magnetosphere by reconnecting at high latitudes in both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres. This event was identified using measurements of the ionospheric convection flow and observations of the aurora using the SuperDARN radars and the IMAGE spacecraft. A cusp spot, characteristic of northward IMF, is clearly visible for a 30 min period enabling the ionospheric footprint of the Northern Hemisphere merging gap to be accurately determined. During the interval a strong burst of sunward flow across the dayside open/closed field line boundary (OCB) is observed, which we interpret as the reconfiguration of the magnetosphere following a burst of reconnection. Noon-midnight and dawn-dusk keograms of the aurora show that the polar cap shrinks during the interval indicating that a large amount of flux was closed by the reconnection. Using the SuperDARN potential maps it is possible to calculate that the amount of flux closed during the interval is 0.13 GWb which represents approximately 10% of the pre-existing polar cap. The number of ions captured by the burst of dual lobe reconnection was calculated to be ~2.2×1031, more than sufficient to populate a cold, dense plasma sheet. That a dense plasma sheet was not subsequently observed is discussed in terms of subsequent changes in the IMF.

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