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Impacts of ionospheric plasma on magnetic reconnection and Earth's magnetosphere dynamics
  • +13
  • Sergio Toledo-Redondo,
  • Mats André,
  • Nicolas Aunai,
  • Charles Richard Chappell,
  • Jérémy Dargent,
  • Stephen A. Fuselier,
  • Alex Glocer,
  • Daniel Bruce Graham,
  • Stein Haaland,
  • Michael Hesse,
  • Lynn M. Kistler,
  • Benoit Lavraud,
  • Wenya Li,
  • Thomas Earle Moore,
  • Paul Tenfjord,
  • Sarah Kimberly Vines
Sergio Toledo-Redondo
Department of Electromagnetism and Electronics, University of Murcia

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Mats André
Swedish Institute of Space Physics
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Nicolas Aunai
IRAP, Toulouse, France
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Charles Richard Chappell
Vanderbilt University
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Jérémy Dargent
Università di Pisa
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Stephen A. Fuselier
Southwest Research Institute
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Alex Glocer
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Daniel Bruce Graham
Swedish Institute of Space Physics
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Stein Haaland
Birkeland Centre for Space Science, University of Bergen
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Michael Hesse
University of Bergen
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Lynn M. Kistler
University of New Hampshire
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Benoit Lavraud
Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie - CNRS
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Wenya Li
State Key Laboratory of Space Weather
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Thomas Earle Moore
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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Paul Tenfjord
University of Bergen
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Sarah Kimberly Vines
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
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Ionospheric ions (mainly H+, He+ and O+) escape from the ionosphere and populate the Earth’s magnetosphere. Their thermal energies are usually low when they first escape the ionosphere, typically a few eV to tens of eV, but are energized in their journey through the magnetosphere. The ionospheric population is variable, and it makes significant contributions to the magnetospheric mass density in key regions where magnetic reconnection is at work. Solar wind - magnetosphere coupling occurs primarily via magnetic reconnection, a key plasma process that enables transfer of mass and energy into the near-Earth space environment. Reconnection leads to the triggering of magnetospheric storms, aurorae, energetic particle precipitation and a host of other magnetospheric phenomena. Several works in the last decades have attempted to statistically quantify the amount of ionospheric plasma supplied to the magnetosphere, including the two key regions where magnetic reconnection proceeds: the dayside magnetopause and the magnetotail. Recent in-situ observations by the Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft and associated modelling have advanced our current understanding of how ionospheric ions alter the magnetic reconnection process at meso- and small-scales, including its onset and efficiency. This article compiles the current understanding of the ionospheric plasma supply to the magnetosphere. It reviews both the quantification of these sources and their effects on the process of magnetic reconnection. It also provides a global description of how the ionospheric ion contribution modifies the way the solar wind couples to the Earth’s magnetosphere and how these ions modify the global dynamics of the near-Earth space environment.