Magnetic local time variation and scaling of poleward auroral boundary dynamics
The balance of dayside and nightside reconnection processes within the Earth's magnetosphere, and its effect on the amount of open magnetic flux threading the ionosphere is well understood in terms of the expanding-contracting polar cap model. However, the nature and character of the consequential fluctuations in the polar cap boundary are poorly understood. By using the poleward auroral luminosity boundary (PALB), as measured by the FUV instrument of the IMAGE spacecraft, as a proxy for the polar cap boundary we have studied the motion of this boundary for more than two years across the complete range of magnetic local time. Our results show that the dayside PALB dynamics are broadly self-similar on timescales of 12 minutes to 6 hours and appear to be monofractal. Similarity with the characteristics of solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) variability suggest that this dayside monofractal behaviour is predominantly inherited from the solar wind via the reconnection process. The nightside PALB dynamics exhibit scale-free behaviour at intermediate timescales (12-90 minutes) and appear to be multifractal. We propose that this character is a result of the intermittent multifractal structure of magnetotail reconnection.