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

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 towards 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 FUV instruments. The OCB does not contract poleward uniformly in all nightside 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.


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Authors: Mooney, M.K., Forsyth, C., Rae, I.J., Chisham, G. ORCIDORCID record for G. Chisham, Coxon, J.C., Marsh, M.S., Jackson, D.R., Bingham, S., Hubert, B.

On this site: Gareth Chisham
16 April, 2020
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics / 125
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