Quantitative modeling of time-dependent phenomena in the magnetospheric magnetic field
Naehr, Stephen M.
Toffoletto, Frank R.
Doctor of Philosophy
A series of improvements to the Rice Field Model (RFM) are described, which both increase the accuracy and extend the capabilities of the model. A new ring current parameterization improves the determination of storm-time fields in the inner magnetosphere. Replacement of the tail current module with a more flexible representation also contributes to improved accuracy in the inner magnetosphere, and enables realistic variations in current strength and orientation over the entire magnetotail length. Revision of the tail shielding/interconnection field eliminates inconsistencies in the model magnetotail, and permits variation in the normal component distribution over the tail portion of the magnetopause. The enhanced flexibilities of the interconnection field and cross-tail current module make possible the modeling of variations in the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) as it propagates downstream, thereby advancing the steady-state RFM an important step toward time-dependent modeling. The modified RFM is used to explore a number of time-dependent magnetospheric phenomena. In simulations of the March 1998 magnetic storm, the new model displays an improved representation of the inner magnetosphere, accurately predicting both storm-induced variations and day-night asymmetry in the field at geosynchronous orbit. The effects of time-dependent interplanetary fields on magnetospheric convection are examined, using a new method to compute ionospheric flow and electric fields in non-steady configurations. This method is applied to simulations of the growth and contraction of the polar cap in Southward and Northward turnings of the IMF. Model convection patterns for Southward turnings are shown to be consistent with theoretical expectations. The RFM is also used to simulate polar cap convection in the particular IMF conditions believed to trigger formation of the theta aurora. The results of the simulation prove to be consistent with several observed properties of the theta aurora, and shed light on the plasma sheet and magnetotail configurations associated with this phenomenon.
Physics; Electromagnetics; Atmospheric sciences; Plasma physics