Occurrence probability, width and number of steps of cusp precipitation for fully pulsed reconnection at the dayside magnetopause
Lockwood, M. and Davis, C. J. (1995) Occurrence probability, width and number of steps of cusp precipitation for fully pulsed reconnection at the dayside magnetopause. Journal of Geophysical Research, 100 (A5). pp. 7627-7640. ISSN 0148-0227
To link to this item DOI: 10.1029/94JA02197
We discuss the characteristics of magnetosheath plasma precipitation in the “cusp” ionosphere for when the reconnection at the dayside magnetopause takes place only in a series of pulses. It is shown that even in this special case, the low-altitude cusp precipitation is continuous, unless the intervals between the pulses are longer than observed intervals between magnetopause flux transfer event (FTE) signatures. We use FTE observation statistics to predict, for this case of entirely pulsed reconnection, the occurrence frequency, the distribution of latitudinal widths, and the number of ion dispersion steps of the cusp precipitation for a variety of locations of the reconnection site and a range of values of the local de-Hoffman Teller velocity. It is found that the cusp occurrence frequency is comparable with observed values for virtually all possible locations of the reconnection site. The distribution of cusp width is also comparable with observations and is shown to be largely dependent on the distribution of the mean reconnection rate, but pulsing the reconnection does very slightly increase the width of that distribution compared with the steady state case. We conclude that neither cusp occurrence probability nor width can be used to evaluate the relative occurrence of reconnection behaviors that are entirely pulsed, pulsed but continuous and quasi-steady. We show that the best test of the relative frequency of these three types of reconnection is to survey the distribution of steps in the cusp ion dispersion characteristics.