Roles of the M-I Coupling and Plasma Sheet Dissipation on the Growth-Phase Thinning and Subsequent Transition to the Onset

T. Tanaka, Y. Ebihara, M. Watanabe, M. Den, S. Fujita, T. Kikuchi, K. K. Hashimoto, N. Nishitani, R. Kataoka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The plasma-sheet dynamics leading to the substorm onset is analyzed from a global simulation. We calculated three cases, the normal (case 1), reduced magnetosphere-ionosphere (M-I) coupling (case 2) and reduced tail dissipation (case 3). The normal solution reproduces the thinning, reconnection, tail flow, and the dipolarization in the magnetosphere, and the AU/AL, the initial brightening, the beads, the pre-onset arc, and the poleward expansion in the ionosphere. Case 2 shows that the M-I coupling promotes the thinning by evacuating magnetic field from the plasma sheet. Case 3 shows that it is implausible to reproduce the AU/AL of the expansion phase only with numerical dissipation. The projection area of the growth phase plasma sheet is so narrow that the quiet arcs on the high-latitude side are projected to the lobe. The key point to understand such narrow projection is to consider the origin of the field-aligned current (FAC). The FAC occurs to transmit motion, and particle precipitation is the consequence. The upward FACs for the quiet arc and initial brightening, which produce the substorm sequence, are generated to transmit enhanced convection from the magnetosphere to the ionosphere. The substorm onset is the transmission of the convection transient. The onset FAC is generated by the near-earth dynamo. Before the onset, a two-stage reconnection occurs at the medium-tail (MTNL) and the near-earth (NENL) neutral lines through retreating nulls. The accompanying flow explains the model that assumes two causal areas for the onset in the near-earth and middle tails.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021JA029925
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


Dive into the research topics of 'Roles of the M-I Coupling and Plasma Sheet Dissipation on the Growth-Phase Thinning and Subsequent Transition to the Onset'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this