Comparison between two theoretical mechanisms for the formation of the plasmapause and relevant observations
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The plasmapause formation physical mechanisms are recalled: (i) the MHD convection mechanism, based on the original idea that the plasmapause coincides with the last closed equipotential (LCE) of the magnetospheric convection electric field or with the last closed streamline (LCS) of the equatorial plasma, and (ii) the interchange mechanism, which is based on peeling off the plasmasphere as a result of substorm associated enhancements of the night side convection velocity, leading to an enhanced centrifugal acceleration in the outermost layers of the plasmasphere. The plasmapause positions, predicted by these alternative theories, were numerically determined for two different magnetospheric empirical electric field models: (i) the Volland-Stern-Maynard-Chen (VSMC) and (ii) McIlwain E5D models, both of which are Kp-dependent. The predicted positions and overall shape of the equatorial plasmapause cross-sections are confronted to those derived from decades of whistler and satellite observations including the EUV observations during the substorm of June 27, 2001. It is found that the VSMC electric field model and the LCS plasmapause formation theory less correspond to whistler measurements and in-situ satellite observations than the E5D model and the interchange plasmapause formation mechanism.
CitationLemaire, J.F.; Pierrard, V. (2008). Comparison between two theoretical mechanisms for the formation of the plasmapause and relevant observations. , Geomagnetism and Aeronomy, Vol. 48, Issue 5, 553-570, DOI: 10.1134/S0016793208050010.