The Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instability has long been suggested as a mechanism for viscous interaction at the magnetospheric boundary but it was not expected to produce significant mass transport. Satellite observations show that the density, temperature, particle pressure and total pressure of the plasma sheet are strongly correlated with those of the solar wind on a time scale of ~2 hours. I present a systematic 2-D study of reconnection in KH flow vortices using MHD and Hall-MHD approximations depending on magnetosheath and magnetospheric plasma and field properties. The presented results show that the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability can be a major plasma transport mechanism during times of strongly northward IMF providing a source of plasma into the low latitude boundary layer and plasma sheet on a time scale of ~2 hours. I have also analyzed Equator-S and Cluster satellite data at the dawnside magnetospheric flank and compared these results with MHD simulations in order to distinguish signatures caused by Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. In addition I have discussed typical ionospheric signatures caused by KH instability.
Thesis (Ph.D.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2002
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