FG: Magnetic Reconnection in the Magnetosphere

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Contents

Chairs

Paul Cassak, West Virginia University (Paul.Cassak [at] mail.wvu.edu)

Andrei Runov, University of California Los Angeles (arunov [at] igpp.ucla.edu)

Yi-Hsin Liu, NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center (yhliu10 [at] gmail.com)

Brian Walsh, Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley (bwalsh [at] ssl.berkeley.edu)

2017 GEM Workshop Plans

We are excited to announce plans for the "Magnetic Reconnection in the Magnetosphere" Focus Group sessions at the upcoming GEM Workshop.  This is the final year of this focus group, and we would like to thank everyone who has participated in it.

This year, the reconnection focus group has 5 sessions overall, 3 of which are joint and 2 are solo. The (currently scheduled) dates, times, and summaries for each session are:

Monday 6/19, PM1 and PM2 - 1:30-3:00pm and 3:30-5:00pm (Joint sessions with “Tail Environment and Dynamics at Lunar Distances” and “Magnetotail Dipolarization and Its Effects on the Inner Magnetosphere” focus groups)

In these joint sessions, we will be focusing on the connections between magnetic reconnection, dipolarization events, and plasmoids in Earth’s magnetotail. The first session will kick off with a short (~20 min) introduction by Prof. Vassilis Angelopoulos covering a very brief review of the system and how each of these three FGs are related. Then, we will take the remaining time in the sessions to move into an open discussion on the following questions/topics:

  1. The role of various instability processes in the original onset and perpetuation of reconnection in the magnetotail (Session 1)
  2. Comparing and contrasting the qualities of earthward vs. tailward jets of reconnection in the magnetotail (dipolarizing flux bundles / bubbles vs. plasmoids). Comparing and contrasting the qualities of dipolarizing flux bundles/bubbles/plasmoids between near-Earth and mid-tail. (Sessions 1 and 2)
  3. The forces driving the spatiotemporal evolution of dipolarizing flux bundles / bubbles and plasmoids and how they both interact with the ambient plasma through which they are moving (e.g., can they themselves trigger additional reconnection???) (Session 2)
  4. Definitions and concepts and what various subsets of the community mean when they say things like dipolarization front; magnetotail dipolarization; extended X-line; X-line motion; plasmoid; etc. Basically, are we all speaking the same language here? (wrap-up activity at the end of the Session 2 if we have any time)

We want to stress that these sessions will be run in an informal nature; we will not be asking for any formal presentations from participants. Instead, we solicit the community to contribute with informal slides, figures, and/or plots to stress key points on any of the above topics. We hope that this session will inspire audience interaction and open discussion and/or debate. If you would like to contribute in these sessions, please just show up with any material you have and join us in going with the flow of the discussion!

Tuesday 6/20, PM1 - 1:30-3:00pm (individual session)

This session will be an open forum for discussion of topics about reconnection in the magnetosphere.  It may include discussion from any topic relevant to the focus group as interest dictates.  Please contact Brian Walsh <bwalsh at bu.edu> with questions.

Wednesday 6/21, PM1 - 1:30-3:00pm (individual session)

This session will be a continuation of the open forum from Tuesday.  We also would like to spend some time discussing community interest in proposing a new reconnection focus group. Discussion on topics for the next group to address are invited, as this is a grass roots effort. Please contact Yi-Hsin Liu <Yi-Hsin.Liu at Dartmouth.edu> with questions.

Thursday 6/22, PM2 - 3:30-5:00pm (Joint session with “Dayside Kinetic Processes in Global Solar Wind - Magnetosphere Interaction” focus group)

This session will focus on discussing the following science topics: 1) Kinetic physics of dayside and/or magnetosheath reconnection - dissipation, energy conversion, particle acceleration, and comparisons between the two regions, 2) Do kinetic bow shock and magnetosheath transients impact magnetopause reconnection?, and 3) Does kinetic physics at the dayside impact the global reconnection process? Discussion on other topics related to the two focus groups is welcome.

We plan to have most of the time driven by discussion. Time permitting, we would like community members to pose a science question or challenge that they would like to see other people address (e.g., “is it possible to observe/simulate this feature I’ve simulated/observed?”). We would also like to have time to brainstorm on open questions. Please contact Paul Cassak <Paul.Cassak at mail.wvu.edu> or Heli Hietala < heli at igpp.ucla.edu> with questions.

2016 GEM Workshop Plans

We are announcing plans for the "Magnetic Reconnection in the Magnetosphere" Focus Group sessions at the upcoming GEM Workshop.  

We have a broad collection of sessions planned for this year, including both basic reconnection science and joint sessions with focus groups where reconnection plays a role in the broader dynamics. The sessions are intended to be driven by open discussion, but attendees are encouraged to enhance the discussion by showing a slide or two as appropriate.  As in the past, we are asking participants to not do AGU-style presentations.  As always, we will try to accommodate all who want to speak, but the priority is having open and active discussion over sticking to a schedule. We strongly encourage anyone wishing to present more than a few slides to also sign up to give a poster.  

The (currently scheduled) dates, times, and summaries for each session are:

Monday 6/20, PM1 - 1:30pm-3:30pm (Individual session)

This session will focus on kinetic physics in day- and night-side reconnection. With the recent launch of the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) satellites, there is already a wealth of new data on kinetic scale physics. Scene setting talks to frame relevant questions and generate discussion will include particle acceleration in dayside reconnection (Allison Jaynes, CU-Boulder) and how global/non-local physics impacts kinetic reconnection physics (John Dorelli, NASA-GSFC), both of which will include discussion of MMS data. In addition, we will have a discussion of magnetotail stability, with a scene setting talk on recent progress (Slava Merkin, JHU-APL). We also encourage discussion on other relevant topics. Please contact Paul Cassak <Paul.Cassak at mail.wvu.edu> if you are interested in being part of the discussion.

Monday 6/20, PM2 - 4:00pm-6:00pm (Joint with Mesoscale Auroral and Polar Cap Dynamics and Substorms focus groups)

We will discuss the following topics:

  -- Ionospheric signatures of magnetopause reconnection and FTEs

  -- Possible dayside-nightside coupling (remote observations, modeling, tests for in-situ multi-point observations)

  -- The role of the ionosphere in transient day- and night-side reconnection-related processes

Contributions from ground- and space-based observers as well as from modelers are welcome. Please contact Brian Walsh <bwalsh at bu.edu> if you are interested in being part of the discussion.

Tuesday 6/21, PM1 - 1:30pm-3:30pm (Joint with Dayside Kinetic and Transient Phenomena focus groups)

This session will encourage cross-focus group interaction and open ended discussion on the topics of magnetopause reconnection, flux-transfer events, Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, magnetopause waves, and other boundary layer processes. Talks on MMS-related studies and modeling with the emphasis on global magnetospheric aspects of reconnection are especially encouraged. Please contact Yi-Hsin Liu <yi-hsin.liu at nasa.gov> by Friday, June 10 if you are interested in being part of the discussion.

Friday 6/24, PM1 - 1:30pm-3:30pm (Individual session)

This session will be an open forum for discussion of topics about reconnection in the magnetosphere.  It may include discussion from any of the earlier sessions as interest dictates. In addition, there will be an update on efforts to incorporate kinetic modeling into NASA’s CCMC. We also hope there is time for a discussion on topics of interest for next year, and the potential future of the reconnection focus group beyond when the current version ends next year. Please contact Paul Cassak <Paul.Cassak at mail.wvu.edu> if you would like to offer a discussion topic.

We look forward to seeing you at the sessions!  Please let one of the organizers know if you have any comments, questions or suggestions.

2015 GEM Workshop Plans

We are announcing plans for the "Magnetic Reconnection in the Magnetosphere" Focus Group sessions at the upcoming GEM Meeting. We also welcome Yi-Hsin Liu and Brian Walsh to our team of co-chairs, and offer thanks to Homa Karimabadi for his years of service.

Last year, we employed two "scene setting" talks per session to frame relevant questions and generate discussion for the remainder of the session. We intend to use a similar strategy this year. We are in the process of lining up speakers, but if you would like to nominate someone (including a self-nomination) for any of the sessions listed below, please email Paul.Cassak at mail.wvu.edu with the name(s) and a brief justification.

Others are encouraged to enhance the discussion by showing a slide or two as appropriate, and we expect some time for open discussion. As in the past, we are asking participants to not do AGU-style presentations, opting for discussion and real-time progress instead. We strongly encourage anyone wishing to present more than a few slides to also sign up to give a poster.

The (currently scheduled) dates, times, and summaries for each session are:

Tuesday 6/16, 1:30pm-3:00pm (Joint with "Tail-Inner Magnetosphere Interactions" Focus Group)

This session will focus on reconnection in the magnetotail and its effects on the inner magnetosphere. In particular, a topic that has generated a lot of interest of late are the kinetic processes associated with energy conversion and the formation and consequences of dipolarization fronts. We also encourage discussion on reconnection onset in the magnetotail - tearing vs. ballooning/interchange. Other relevant topics are welcome.

Wednesday 6/17, 3:30pm-5:00pm (Joint with "Metrics and Validation" Focus Group)

The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) satellites were recently launched to measure the electron dissipation region during magnetic reconnection. NASA's Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC), a repository of codes and models with runs-on-request, is pursuing support of MMS science, including the implementation of particle-in-cell simulations to their portfolio. This session will include a discussion of what capabilities members of the community (modelers and observers alike) would like from CCMC for MMS science.

Thursday 6/18, 1:30pm-3:00pm (Joint with "Geospace System Science"Focus Group)

This session will encourage cross-focus group interaction and open ended discussion on the topic of "What is the interplay between local and global processes in regulating reconnection?" This can include local-scale (Alfven speeds, microphysics, plasma state and composition, magnetic field geometry), meso-scale (geometry of the magnetic configuration, impediment of outflows), and global-scale (magnetospheric geometry and inflation, current closure through the magnetosheath, ionospheric conductivity, ionospheric outflows). We expect observers, theorists, and modelers interested in the magnetosphere as a system will find this session interesting.

Thursday 6/18, 3:30pm-5:00pm (Individual session)

This session will be an open forum for discussion of topics about reconnection in the magnetosphere. We expect dayside reconnection to be a main topic of this session. We encourage discussion on topics of local vs. global control of dayside reconnection and the role of diamagnetic effects and flow shear on dayside reconnection. We encourage people interested in opening a discussion on a topic (the ones listed or otherwise) to attend. Please email Paul.Cassak at mail.wvu.edu by June 9 if you would like to propose a discussion topic.

We look forward to seeing you at the sessions! Please let one of the organizers know if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, and see you in Snowmass.

2014 GEM Workshop Plans

We are announcing plans for the "Magnetic Reconnection in the Magnetosphere" Focus Group sessions at the upcoming GEM Meeting.

The format for each is to have two speakers set the scene on a particular topic. Others are encouraged to contribute to the discussion and put up a slide or two as relevant. Half of one session will be for general contributions consisting of no more than 4 slides - 1 for intro to acclimate graduate students, and no more than 3 on your topic. If you would like to be considered for one of the general contributions, please email Paul.Cassak at mail.wvu.edu with your topic. We will try to accommodate as many of the requests for talks as possible. We strongly encourage everyone wishing to present to sign up to give a poster to ensure you are able to present more than a few slides. Please let one of the focus group chairs know if you have any comments or questions.

The dates, times, locations, and summaries for each session are described here:

Monday 6/16, 10:30am-12:15pm, Ports Ballroom I-III

First half - "What controls the rate of dayside reconnection?" Scene-setters - Joe Borovsky and Ramon Lopez Science - It has long been thought that the reconnection rate at the dayside is controlled by the electric field in the solar wind. Recent observations that geomagnetic indices are affected by plasmaspheric drainage plumes called this into question, suggesting local control of the reconnection rate. This session will tackle this fundamental question of importance to solar wind-magnetospheric coupling. We will hear from proponents on each side and discuss how future progress will be made on these questions.

Second half - "General Contributions" Scene-setters - None Science - Please consider contributing a few slides on any topic on reconnection (provided it is GEM relevant). Observations, modeling, and theory presentations are encouraged. Again, since we are only leaving 45 minutes for this session, all potential contributors are encouraged to also sign up to give a poster.

Monday 6/16, 1:30pm-3:00pm, Ports Ballroom I-III

First half - "What determines the cross-tail scale of reconnection jets?" Scene-setters - Phil Pritchett and Jiang Liu Science - Multi-satellite missions have made it accessible to study the three-dimensional structure of reconnection in the magnetotail. Observationally, what is the characteristic length in the out-of-plane direction of the reconnection events? Theoretically, what physically sets this length? These topics will be discussed in this session.

Second half - "How is magnetotail reconnection modulated by dayside reconnection? What is the nature of magnetotail reconnection onset and transients?" Scene-setters - Toshi Nishimura and Joachim Birn Science - Reconnection in the magnetotail onsets abruptly, and is often bursty. It can further be modulated due to time-dependent phenomena on the dayside. This session will discuss how reconnection in the magnetotail responds to modulation from the dayside and what causes reconnection onset and transients in the magnetotail. Observational and theoretical/modeling considerations will be discussed.

Monday 6/16, 3:30pm-5:00pm, Ports Ballroom I-III

(Joint with "Tail-Inner Magnetosphere Interactions" Focus Group)

Scene-setters - Misha Sitnov and Andrei Runov Science - This joint session will focus on the relationship between bursty bulk flows/dipolarization fronts and reconnection, both from the observational and theoretical/modeling perspective. In many ways, this is a continuation of the1:30-3:00 session, but additional attention will be paid to the ramifications on the inner magnetosphere. Please let Paul.Cassak at mail.wvu.edu or toffo atrice.edu know if you are interested in contributing.

Thursday 6/19, 3:30pm-5:00pm, Ports Ballroom I-III

(Joint with "The Magnetosheath" Focus Group)

Scene-setters - TBD Science - We seek observational and theory/simulation speakers who study 1. the consequences of foreshock and magnetosheath turbulence on dayside reconnection, 2. the effects of velocity shear and plasma beta on dayside reconnection, 3. plasma heating in magnetosheath reconnection. Please send your contribution ideas to session organizers by the 6th of June(any of the above organizers or petrinec at lmsal.com or nykyrik at erau.edu)

We look forward to seeing you at the sessions! Please let the organizers (Paul.Cassak at mail.wvu.edu) know about contributions by Friday, June 6.

2013 GEM Workshop Plans

At the workshop, we are having four 1.5 hr-long sessions to discuss:

  • Dayside reconnection and its relation to transient phenomena at the magnetopause and bow shock (joint with Transient Phenomena at the Magnetopause and Bow Shock and Their Ground Signatures focus group)
  • Magnetotail reconnection and its role in substorms, pseudo breakups, PBIs and other substorm-related phenomena (joint with Substorm Expansion Onset focus group)
  • General problems of magnetospheric reconnection. Nominally, the session activities will address Signatures of Kinetic Scale Reconnection Physics (a prelude to the launch of MMS), but contributions on any topic including onset, evolution, and consequences are welcomed

We welcome contributions based upon data analysis, simulations, and theory.

2013 GEM Workshop Schedule and Expected Speakers

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm on Tuesday (June 18), joint with Transient Phenomena at the Magnetopause and Bow Shock and Their Ground Signatures focus group

Expected speakers (in alphabetical order)

  1. Yaireska Colladovega, determining motion of FTEs on the dayside magnetopause
  2. Shiva Kavosi, simulations of Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability observed by THEMIS
  3. Sunhee Lee, cold ion behavior during magnetic reconnection at the magnetopause
  4. Xuanye Ma, interaction of Kelvin-helmholtz and reconnection for large magnetic shear
  5. Takuma Nakamura, vortex induced reconnection
  6. Karlheinz Trattner, Tracing multiple X-lines at the magnetopause
  7. Rick Wilder, reconnection at high-latitude magnetopause with extreme density asymmetry
  8. Binzheng Zhang, soft electron precipitation bifurcations during large By driving
10:30 am - 12:15 pm on Wednesday (June 19), joint with Substorm Expansion Onset focus group

Expected speakers (in alphabetical order)

  1. Joachim Birn (w/M. Hesse), near tail reconnection: onset
  2. Joachim Birn (w/M. Hesse), near tail reconnection: energy conversion
  3. Jim Drake, structure of reconnection exhausts and dipolarization fronts
  4. Stefan Kiehas, reconnection observations with THEMIS/ARTEMIS
  5. Andrei Runov, Update on Cluster and THEMIS/ARTEMIS observations
  6. Mikhail Sitnov, magnetotail reconnection onset and dipolarization fronts
  7. Mikhail Sitnov (w/S. Merkin), magnetotail reconnection onset: kinetic vs. MHD
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm and 3:30 - 5:00pm on Wednesday (June 19)

Expected speakers (in alphabetical order)

  1. Amitava Bhattacharjee, plasmoids
  2. Joachim Birn, energetic particle fluxes & anisotropies at dipolarization fronts
  3. Joe Borovsky, solar wind coupling
  4. Paul Cassak, shear flow
  5. Lars Daldorff, PIC/BATS-R-US coupling
  6. John Dorelli, global Hall-MHD effects on magnetospheric convection
  7. John Dorelli, sw/ms coupling
  8. Jan Egedal, role of pressure anisotropy
  9. Stefan Eriksson, solar wind reconnection
  10. Gabor Facsko, solar wind disturbances forcing magnetotail reconnection
  11. Michael Hesse, asymmetric reconnection
  12. Colin Komar, dayside separators
  13. Yanhua Liu, counter streaming heavy ions in reconnection
  14. Kittipat Malakit, asymmetric reconnection
  15. Tai Phan, electron heating
  16. Mike Shay, electron heating
  17. Brian Walsh, plasmaspheric drainage plumes

Archive - Focus Group Proposal (2012)

Abstract

Magnetic reconnection underlies the dynamics in many aspects of magnetospheric physics and is critical to the development of a predictive understanding of space weather phenomena. It importance spans from the dayside where solar wind-magnetospheric coupling occurs to the nightside where storm and substorm phenomena occur. Many existing Focus Groups treat reconnection in the context of a particular application, but a Focus Group specifically on reconnection is being proposed to develop an understanding that could not be attained from studies on particular applications. Broadly, the proposed Focus Group will address kinetic physics of reconnection and how it couples to macroscales, reconnection at the dayside and its relation to solar wind-magnetospheric coupling, three-dimensional reconnection, reconnection onset and transient behavior and implications for transport, and particle acceleration in reconnection. The proposed Focus Group is timely as simulations have matured to the point where they can offer realistic comparisons to observations, and the existing THEMIS/ARTEMIS and upcoming MMS missions include reconnection physics as a key feature of their goals. Reconnection is by nature cross-disciplinary and offers many opportunities for interaction with existing Focus Groups. The proposed reconnection Focus Group is for five years, and will produce deliverables of import for many aspects of GEM goals.

Topic Description

During magnetic reconnection, a change in magnetic topology facilitates the conversion of magnetic energy to kinetic and thermal energy and allows mixing of plasmas on either side of current sheets. It is the driver of many dynamical behaviors in the magnetosphere that are of crucial importance to space weather. At the dayside magnetopause, reconnection plays a critical role in solar wind-magnetospheric coupling and recent evidence suggests it may even control the coupling efficiency. This process is the driver of magnetospheric convection, evolution of the radiation belts, and loading of energy in the magnetotail. The release of this energy in geomagnetic storms and substorms is a result of reconnection in the magnetotail. Reconnection also produces energetic particles that can damage satellites. At present, magnetic reconnection is studied separately under the auspices of particular applications within separate GEM Focus Groups. The proposed Focus Group will address the physics of reconnection as a distinct physical process which is important for magnetospheric applications in ways that cannot be addressed in applied settings. There is a long history of success in GEM on reconnection (including the highly-cited GEM Reconnection Challenge). The proposed Focus Group will foster interaction between observations, simulations, and models. The broad goals of the Reconnection Focus Group are to contribute to the understanding of (1) the kinetic microphysics of reconnection and how it couples to the magnetosphere at macroscales, (2) how and where dayside reconnection occurs and how it contributes to solar wind-magnetospheric coupling including the role of flux transfer events, (3) how three-dimensional reconnection proceeds, especially at the dayside, (4) the onset of reconnection and the physics of transient reconnection events and their relation to bursty bulk flows, dipolarization fronts, and entropy bubbles, and (5) how reconnection produces energetic particles. Recent advances in fluid and kinetic simulations both locally at reconnection sites and globally containing the whole magnetosphere have led to a point where realistic numerical models can be compared directly with satellite observations. The Focus Group will benefit from a wealth of observational data from existing satellites, as well as new highly resolved multi-point observational data from the THEMIS/ARTEMIS mission and the upcoming Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) mission. Strong ties with existing Focus Groups studying applications of reconnection will be made.

Timeliness of the Focus Group

A GEM Focus Group on magnetic reconnection is particularly timely. NASAs Magnetospheric MultiScale (MMS) Mission, with a planned launch date of October of 2014, "will use Earth's magnetosphere as a laboratory to study magnetic reconnection" (http:// mms.gsfc.nasa.gov/about_mms.html), focussing on the kinetic-scale microphysics. This requires spacecraft to be closer together than previous missions and will provide unprecedented observational resolution. The three-probe THEMIS constellation will also be reconfigured to form a larger scale tetrahedron with MMS at one node to provide the macroscopic context for the microscopic measurements by MMS. In addition, the ARTEMIS satellites repurposed from the THEMIS mission have recently moved into a lunar orbit and will provide information on the mid-tail region where reconnection is expected to occur and serve as a solar wind monitor on the dayside. Therefore, near-future in-situ observations will provide measurements at a wide scale range from the electron kinetic scale to the global scale. In the run-up to launch of MMS, a GEM Focus Group on reconnection emphasizing numerical and observational studies will play a central role in preparing for the mission by investigating what signals should be expected and in what locations of the magnetosphere. After the launch of MMS, the GEM Focus Group will be an avenue for analyzing and interpreting the data with comparisons to simulations and for putting the newly obtained knowledge in context of larger-scale magnetospheric behavior.

Relation to Existing GEM Focus Groups

As magnetic reconnection underlies dynamics in every GEM Research Area, this Focus Group has enormous potential for interaction with existing Focus Groups. It is the goal of this Focus Group to both support existing efforts in other Focus Groups and to drive new avenues of research through discovery achieved in this Focus Group. A non-exhaustive discussion follows for ways in which a reconnection Focus Group is synergistic with existing Focus Groups. For each example listed, the Co-Chairs of the existing Focus Group have been contacted and agree that interdisciplinary activities with a reconnection Focus Group would be desirable.

  1. Plasmasphere-Magnetosphere Interactions (2008-13) - The PMI Focus Group is an example where previous incarnations of reconnection studies at GEM have successfully had interdisciplinary activities. The previous reconnection focus group produced studies on asymmetric reconnection and how it may occur at the dayside magnetosphere. Recent studies showed that solar wind-magnetospheric coupling is less efficient when high density plasmaspheric drainage plumes reach the dayside reconnection site. This is consistent with reconnection becoming less efficient when asymmetric reconnection occurs with high density plasma. A presentation on this was given in a PMI session. Though the PMI Focus Group will end soon, it is expected that the previous interdisciplinary activities will continue.
  2. Substorm Expansion Onset: The First 10 Minutes (2008-13) - This is another example where there has been cross-participation in the past. The physics of dipolarization fronts and how they can be used to understand reconnection onset in substorms is common to both groups, as it was recently determined that they occur at the onset of reconnection. Kinetic simulations have been very useful to understand their properties.
  3. Magnetosheath (2010-14) - The magnetosheath is strongly linked to dayside reconnection physics. Many issues of the structure of the magnetosheath are related to how reconnection proceeds, such as the appearance or lack of flux pile-up at the magnetopause and the propensity for flux transfer events. Understanding how kinetic effects impact dayside reconnection and the march to global kinetic modeling, and where reconnection at the dayside occurs as a function of solar wind conditions, are both synergistic topics.
  4. Metrics and Validation (2011-15) - This group addresses challenges of model-data comparisons and how to assess them. In the past, a barrier to performing careful metrics and validation studies of magnetic reconnection has been a lack of sufficient observations, but the MMS mission is expected to change this. Therefore, a potential avenue for collaboration with the Metrics and Validation Focus Group is comparisons of kinetic modeling and observational data from MMS.
  5. Tail-Inner Magnetosphere Interactions (2012-16) - This Focus Group addresses modes of transport that cause heating in the magnetotail and inner magnetosphere. It is thought that transient events such as bursty bulk flows, entropy bubbles, and dipolarization fronts play a potentially important role. As these events are associated with magnetotail reconnection, there is strong potential for cross-disciplinary interactions with this Focus Group.

Goals and Deliverables

The goals of the Reconnection Focus Group are to understand aspects of magnetospheric reconnection with an eye to applications in other Focus Groups. This list is not exhaustive, but it has been compiled using input from the GEM community.

  1. What is the physics of reconnection at the kinetic scale and how does it couple to the magnetosphere at macro-scales? Particular topics include the role of the extended electron diffusion region, pressure anisotropies, normal magnetic fields for magnetotail applications, asymmetries in density and magnetic field, and whether or how the microphysics of reconnection can be incorporated into fluid models in geospace general circulation models (GGCMs). Examples of deliverables for simulation and modeling work include answers to the following questions - What sets the scale of the extended electron diffusion region and what is its effect on reconnection? (This will be important both before and after the launch of MMS for locating and analyzing reconnection events.) How do asymmetries effect the kinetic signatures of reconnection? Under what conditions do pressure anisotropies arise? Observational deliverables include THEMIS/ARTEMIS and MMS results, which will be compared to numerical simulations.
  2. How does reconnection proceed at the dayside and how does it contribute to solar wind-magnetospheric coupling? Topics include the role of asymmetries and shear flow in setting the efficiency of reconnection and the role of flux transfer events. Deliverables include quantitative predictions of dayside reconnection efficiency as a function of solar wind conditions that can be fed into solar wind-magnetospheric coupling functions as in the Borovsky coupling function and expected properties of flux transfer events in kinetic simulations and observations.
  3. How does three-dimensional reconnection proceed, especially at the dayside? Numerical deliverables include answering these questions - What is the location of reconnection on the dayside and its efficiency as a function of solar wind conditions? What differences are there between in 2D and fully 3D reconnection? Observational deliverables include signatures of the dissipation region in fully 3D settings and their meso- and macro-scale ramifications.
  4. How does reconnection onset and what is the physics of transient reconnection events such as bursty bulk flows, dipolarization fronts, entropy bubbles, and flux transfer events? Deliverables include how their properties depend on magnetospheric conditions, their role in energy and mass transport, how they expand and spread as a function of time, and comparisons with observational data from the THEMIS/ARTEMIS mission.
  5. How are energetic particles produced during reconnection? This includes mechanisms based on reconnection electric fields and secondary islands. Deliverables include the relative importance of various particle acceleration mechanisms and the observational signatures that result, and observations of these events from THEMIS/ARTEMIS and MMS.

Co-Chairs

  • Paul Cassak, West Virginia University, Paul.Cassak [at] mail.wvu.edu (Expertise - Local and global fluid simulations, local kinetic simulations)
  • Andrei Runov, University of California, Los Angeles, arunov [at] igpp.ucla.edu (Expertise - Magnetotail observations)
  • Homa Karimabadi, University of California, San Diego, homakar [at] gmail.com (Expertise - Local and global kinetic simulations)

Term of Focus Group

Five years (2013-2017)

Expected Activities, Session Topics, and Challenges

The following are a possible set of activities and session topics for the duration of the proposed Focus Group. This list is not intended to be binding, nor is it intended to be noninclusive to research in areas planned for other years, but is offered as a guide to the direction of the Focus Group. Year 1, Signatures of Kinetic Scale Reconnection Physics (2013) - This is important in the runup to the launch of the MMS mission. The state-of-the-art in kinetic simulations will be gathered and discussed in relation to existing observational data to make predictions for MMS. Year 2, Dayside Reconnection and Solar Wind-Magnetospheric Coupling (2014) - This activity will collect progress in determining how reconnection occurs at the magnetopause and how it impacts solar wind-magnetospheric coupling. Cross-disciplinary activities with the Magnetosheath group are possible. Year 3, Kinetic Physics of Reconnection and Particle Acceleration (2015) - With early results from MMS expected, this session will focus on analyzing this data and comparing it to numerical simulations. It is expected that particle acceleration will be a strong component of the observations. Cross-disciplinary activities with the Metrics and Validation group are possible. Year 4, Reconnection Onset and Transients (2016) - This session will address the role of transients and reconnection onset. Cross-disciplinary activities with the Tail-Inner Magnetosphere Interactions group are possible. Year 5, Understanding Three-dimensional Reconnection (2017) - Efforts on the challenging and largely unknown physics of three-dimensional reconnection will be gathered and discussed.

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