loading page

Dissecting Earth’s Magnetosphere: 3D Energy Transport in a Simulation of a Real Storm Event
  • +1
  • Austin Brenner,
  • Tuija I. Pulkkinen,
  • Qusai Al Shidi,
  • Gábor Tóth
Austin Brenner
University of Michigan

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Tuija I. Pulkkinen
University of Michigan
Author Profile
Qusai Al Shidi
University of Michigan
Author Profile
Gábor Tóth
Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, University of Michigan
Author Profile


We present new analysis methods of 3D MHD output data from the Space Weather Modeling Framework during a simulated storm event. Earth’s magnetosphere is identified in the simulation domain and divided based on magnetic topology and the bounding magnetopause definition. Volume energy contents and surface energy fluxes are analyzed for each subregion to track the energy transport in the system as the driving solar wind conditions change. Two energy pathways are revealed, one external and one internal. The external pathway between the magnetosheath and magnetosphere has magnetic energy flux entering the lobes and escaping through the closed field region and is consistent with previous work and theory. The internal pathway, which has never been studied in this manner, reveals magnetically dominated energy recirculating between open and closed field lines. The energy enters the lobes across the dayside magnetospheric cusps and escapes the lobes through the nightside plasmasheet boundary layer. This internal circulation directly controls the energy content in the lobes and the partitioning of the total energy between lobes and closed field line regions. Qualitative analysis of four-field junction neighborhoods indicate the internal circulation pathway is controlled via the reconnection X-line(s), and by extension, the IMF orientation. These results allow us to make clear and quantifiable arguments about the energy dynamics of Earth’s magnetosphere, and the role of the lobes as an expandable reservoir that cannot retain energy for long periods of time but can grow and shrink in energy content due to mismatch between incoming and outgoing energy flux.
29 Jul 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
04 Aug 2023Published in ESS Open Archive