Do statistical models capture the dynamics of the magnetopause during sudden magnetospheric compressions?

Staples, Frances and Rae, I.J. and Forsyth, Colin and Smith, Ashley and Murphy, Kyle R. and Raymer, Katie and Plaschke, Ferdinand and Case, Nathan and Roger, Craig and Wild, Jim and Milan, Steve and Imber, Susie (2020) Do statistical models capture the dynamics of the magnetopause during sudden magnetospheric compressions? Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 125 (4). ISSN 2169-9402

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Under periods of strong solar wind driving, the magnetopause can become compressed, playing a significant role in draining electrons from the outer radiation belt. Also termed “magnetopause shadowing,” this loss process has traditionally been attributed to a combination of magnetospheric compression and outward radial diffusion of electrons. However, the drift paths of relativistic electrons and the location of the magnetopause are usually calculated from statistical models and, as such, may not represent the time‐varying nature of this highly dynamic process. In this study, we construct a database ∼20,000 spacecraft crossings of the dayside magnetopause to quantify the accuracy of the commonly used Shue et al. (1998, model. We find that, for the majority of events (74%), the magnetopause model can be used to estimate magnetopause location to within ±1 RE. However, if the magnetopause is compressed below 8 RE, the observed magnetopause is greater than 1 RE inside of the model location on average. The observed magnetopause is also significantly displaced from the model location during storm sudden commencements, when measurements are on average 6% closer to the radiation belts, with a maximum of 42%. We find that the magnetopause is rarely close enough to the outer radiation belt to cause direct magnetopause shadowing, and hence rapid outward radial transport of electrons is also required. We conclude that statistical magnetopause parameterizations may not be appropriate during dynamic compressions. We suggest that statistical models should only be used during quiescent solar wind conditions and supplemented by magnetopause observations wherever possible.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
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Accepted for publication in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. Copyright 2020 American Geophysical Union. Further reproduction or electronic distribution is not permitted.
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29 Jan 2020 10:40
Last Modified:
15 Sep 2023 01:02