A Magnetohydrodynamic Modeling of the Interchange Cycle for Oblique Northward Interplanetary Magnetic Field

Masakazu Watanabe, Shigeru Fujita, Takashi Tanaka, Yasubumi Kubota, Hiroyuki Shinagawa, Ken T. Murata

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7 Citations (Scopus)


We perform numerical modeling of the interchange cycle in the magnetosphere-ionosphere convection system for oblique northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). The interchange cycle results from the coupling of IMF-to-lobe reconnection and lobe-to-closed reconnection. Using a global magnetohydrodynamic simulation code, for an IMF clock angle of 20° (measured from due north), we successfully reproduced the following features of the interchange cycle. (1) In the ionosphere, for each hemisphere, there appears a reverse cell circulating exclusively in the closed field line region (the reciprocal cell). (2) The topology transition of the magnetic field along a streamline near the equatorial plane precisely represents the magnetic flux reciprocation during the interchange cycle. (3) Field-aligned electric fields on the interplanetary-open separatrix and on the open-closed separatrix are those that are consistent with IMF-to-lobe reconnection and lobe-to-closed reconnection, respectively. These three features prove the existence of the interchange cycle in the simulated magnetosphere-ionosphere system. We conclude that the interchange cycle does exist in the real solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere system. In addition, the simulation revealed that the reciprocal cell described above is not a direct projection of the diffusion region as predicted by the “vacuum” model in which diffusion is added a priori to the vacuum magnetic topology. Instead, the reciprocal cell is a consequence of the plasma convection system coupled to the so-called NBZ (“northward Bz”) field-aligned current system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-286
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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