New model fit functions of the plasmapause location determined using THEMIS observations during the ascending phase of Solar Cycle 24

It is well known that the plasmapause is influenced by the solar wind and magnetospheric conditions. Empirical models of its location have been previously developed such as those by O\textquoterightBrien and Moldwin (2003) and Larsen et al. (2006). In this study, we identified the locations of the plasmapause using the plasma density data obtained from the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) satellites. We used the data for the period (2008\textendash2012) corresponding to the ascending phase of Solar Cycle 24. Our database includes data from over a year of unusually weak solar wind conditions, correspondingly covering the plasmapause locations in a wider L range than those in previous studies. It also contains many coronal hole stream intervals during which the plasmasphere is eroded and recovers over a timescale of several days. The plasmapause was rigorously determined by requiring a density gradient by a factor of 15 within a radial distance of 0.5 L. We first determined the statistical correlation of the plasmapause locations with several solar wind parameters as well as geomagnetic indices. We found that the plasmapause locations are well correlated with the solar wind speed and the interplanetary magnetic field Bz, therefore the y component of the convective electric field, and some energy coupling functions such as the well-known Akasofu\textquoterights epsilon parameter. The plasmapause locations are also highly correlated with the geomagnetic indices, Dst, AE, and Kp, as recognized previously. Finally, we suggest new model fit functions for the plasmapause locations in terms of the solar wind parameters and geomagnetic indices. When applied to a new data interval outside the model training interval, our model fit functions work better than existing ones. The new model fit functions developed here extend the range of conditions from those used in previous works.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Date Published