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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-2019-146
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-2019-146
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: regular paper 16 Oct 2019

Submitted as: regular paper | 16 Oct 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Annales Geophysicae (ANGEO).

The fate of O+ ions observed in the plasma mantle and cusp: particle tracing modelling and Cluster observations

Audrey Schillings1,2, Herbert Gunell3,4, Hans Nilsson1,2, Alexandre De Spiegeleer3, Yusuke Ebihara5, Lars G. Westerberg6, Masatoshi Yamauchi1, and Rikard Slapak7 Audrey Schillings et al.
  • 1Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden
  • 2Division of Space Technology, Luleå University of Technology, Kiruna, Sweden
  • 3Department of Physics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden
  • 4Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy, Brussels, Belgium
  • 5EISCAT Scientific Association, Kiruna, Sweden
  • 6Division of Fluid- and Experimental Mechanics, Luleå University of Technology, Luleå, Sweden
  • 7Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere, Kyoto University, 611-0011, Gokasho, Uji, Kyoto, Japan

Abstract. Ion escape is of particular interest for studying the evolution of the atmosphere on geological time scales. Previously, using Cluster-CODIF data, we investigated the oxygen ion outflow from the plasma mantle for different solar wind conditions and geomagnetic activity. We found significant correlations between solar wind parameters, geomagnetic activity (Kp index) and the O+ outflow. From these studies, we suggested that O+ ions observed in the plasma mantle and cusp have enough energy and velocity to escape the magnetosphere and be lost into the solar wind or in the distant magnetotail. Thus, this study aims to investigate where do the ions observed in the plasma mantle end up. In order to answer this question, we numerically calculate the trajectories of O+ ions using a tracing code to further test this assumption and determine the fate of the observed ions. Our code consists of a magnetic field model (Tsyganenko T96) and an ionospheric potential model (Weimer 2001) in which particles initiated in the plasma mantle and cusp regions are launched and traced forward in time. We analysed 136 observations of plasma mantle or cusp events in Cluster data between 2001 and 2007, and for each event 200 O+ particles were launched with an initial parallel and perpendicular velocity corresponding to the bulk velocity observed by Cluster. From the observations, our results show that 93 % of the events have an initial parallel velocity component twice the initial perpendicular velocity. After the tracing, we found that 96 % of the particles are lost into the solar wind or in the distant tail. Out of these 96 %, 20 % escape into the dayside magnetosphere.

Audrey Schillings et al.
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Model code and software

ham - a particle tracing code for Earth's magnetosphere H. Gunell, A. De Spiegeleer, and A. Schillings https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3466771

Audrey Schillings et al.
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Short summary
The Earth's atmosphere is constantly losing molecules and charged particles, amongst them oxygen ions or O+. Quantifying this loss provides information about the evolution of the atmosphere on geological timescales. In this study, we investigate the final destination of O+ observed with Cluster satellites in a high-altitude magnetospheric region (plasma mantle) by tracing the particles forward in time using simulations. We find that approximately 96 % of O+ escape the Earth's magnetosphere.
The Earth's atmosphere is constantly losing molecules and charged particles, amongst them oxygen...
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