The dayside magnetopause location during radial interplanetary magnetic field periods: Cluster observation and model comparison

T. Huang, H. Wang, J. H. Shue, L. Cai, G. Pi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The present work has investigated the midlatitudinal magnetopause locations under radial interplanetary field (RIMF) conditions. Among 262 (256) earthward (sunward) RIMF events from years of 2001 to 2009, Cluster satellites have crossed the magnetopause 22(12) times, with 10 (7) events occurring at midlatitudes. The observed midlatitudinal magnetopause positions are compared with two empirical magnetopause models (Shue et al., 1998; Boardsen et al., 2000) (hereafter referred to as the Shue98 model and the Boardsen00 model). The observation-model differences exhibit local time asymmetry. For earthward RIMF cases, the Shue98 model underestimates the magnetopause positions in the postnoon sector, while it overestimates the magnetopause positions in the dawn and dusk sectors. The Boardsen00 model generally underestimates the magnetopause after 6 MLT (magnetic local time), with larger deviations in the postnoon sector as compared to those in the prenoon. For sunward RIMF cases, the selected events are mainly clustered around the dawn and dusk sectors. The comparison with the Shue98 model indicates contractions in the dawn and expansions in the dusk sector, while the comparison with Boardsen00 indicates general expansions, with larger expansions in the later local time sectors. The local time variations in the differences between observations and the Shue98 and the Boardsen00 models indicate that the real magnetopause could be asymmetrically shaped during radial IMF periods, which should be considered by magnetopause models. The observation-model differences in the magnetopause positions (Δ RMP) during RIMF periods correlate well with the solar wind dynamic pressure, with larger Δ RMP for larger . The southern magnetopause expands further outward relative to the model prediction when the dipole tilt angle is more negative (local summer in the Southern Hemisphere). For earthward RIMF cases, the generally good correlations between Δ RMP and the IMF cone angle are consistent with the previous hypothesis (Dušík et al., 2010) that, with more radial IMF, the subsolar magnetopause will expand further outward, owever, this is not the case for the comparison with Boardsen00 during sunward IMF periods, as it shows less dependence on the IMF cone angle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-448
Number of pages12
JournalAnnales Geophysicae
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2015


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