Testing a two-loop pattern of the substorm current wedge (SCW2L)

Recent quantitative testing of the classical (region 1 sense) substorm current wedge (SCI) model revealed systematic discrepancies between the observed and predicted amplitudes, which suggested us to include additional region 2 sense currents (R2 loop) earthward of the dipolarized region (SCW2L model). Here we discuss alternative circuit geometries of the 3-D substorm current system and interpret observations of the magnetic field dipolarizations made between 6.6RE and 11RE, to quantitatively investigate the SCW2L model parameters. During two cases of a dipole-like magnetotail configuration, the dipolarization/injection front fortuitously stopped at r ~ 9RE for the entire duration of ~ 30 min long SCW-related dipolarization within a unique, radially distributed multispacecraft constellation, which allowed us to determine the locations and total currents of both SCW2L loops. In addition, we analyzed the dipolarization amplitudes in events, simultaneously observed at 6.6RE, 11RE and at colatitudes under a wide range of magnetograph conditions. We infer that the ratio I2/I1 varies in the range 0.2 to 0.6 (median value 0.4) and that the equatorial part of the R2 current loop stays at r>6.6RE in the case of a dipole-like field geometry (BZ0>75 nT at 6.6RE prior to the onset), but it is located at r<6.6RE in the case of a stretched magnetic field configuration (with BZ0<60 nT). Since the ground midlatitude perturbations are sensitive to the combined effect of the R1 and R2 sense current loops with the net current roughly equal to I1-I2, the ratio I2/I1 becomes an important issue when attempting to monitor the current disruption intensity from ground observations.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Number of Pages
Date Published