Examining Local Time Variations in the Gains and Losses of Open Magnetic Flux During Substorms

M. K. Mooney*, C. Forsyth, I. J. Rae, G. Chisham, J. C. Coxon, M. S. Marsh, D. R. Jackson, S. Bingham, B. Hubert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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The open magnetic flux content of the magnetosphere varies during substorms as a result of dayside and nightside reconnection. The open flux can be calculated from the area of the polar cap, delineated by the open-closed field line boundary (OCB). This study presents a superposed epoch analysis of the location of the OCB and the change in the magnetic flux content in individual nightside MLT sectors during substorm growth, expansion, and recovery phases. Far ultraviolet (FUV) observations from the IMAGE satellite are used to derive a proxy of the OCB location. In the hour prior to substorm onset, the total nightside flux content increases by up to 0.12 GWb on average, resulting in an equatorward expansion of the OCB. Following substorm onset, the OCB contracts toward the pole as the open magnetic flux content decreases by up to 0.14 GWb on average, but the rate of decrease of the total nightside open flux content differs by 5–66% between the three IMAGE far ultraviolet instruments. The OCB does not contract poleward uniformly in all nightside magnetic local time (MLT) sectors after substorm onset. Close to the substorm onset MLT sector, the OCB contracts immediately following substorm onset; however, the OCB in more dawnward and duskward MLT sectors continues to expand equatorward for up to 120 minutes after substorm onset. Despite the continued increase in flux in these sectors after substorm onset, the total nightside flux content decreases immediately at substorm onset, indicating that the nightside reconnection rate exceeds the dayside rate following substorm onset.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2019JA027369
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number4
Early online date16 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


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