We compare the statistics of central plasma sheet properties from 6 years of Geotail observations with 2 months of Lyon-Fedder-Mobarry (LFM) global MHD simulations. This statistical validation effort represents an inherently new method of systematically characterizing and quantifying global MHD model performance. For our comparison, we identify the central plasma sheet in the observations and simulation by identical criteria and select the simulation interval to ensure statistically similar distributions of solar wind conditions in both studies. After verifying our plasma sheet selection by inspecting the magnetic signatures of both studies, we compare the resultant number densities, thermal pressures, thermal energies, and bulk flows as functions of position across the equatorial plane. We find that the LFM model successfully reproduces the gross features of the global plasma sheet in a statistical sense. However, our comparison also reveals certain systematic discrepancies between the model and the observations. The LFM predicts a plasma sheet which is too dense, too cool, and exhibits faster globally averaged bulk flows than the observed plasma sheet. By quantifying the LFM overestimate of ionospheric transpolar potential and showing that ΦPC correlates with plasma sheet flow speed, we demonstrate that 15% of the plasma sheet velocity discrepancy is reflected in a ΦPC overestimate. This statistical validation effort represents an essential first step toward the rigorous, quantitative evaluation of a global MHD model in the plasma sheet.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
American Geophysical Union
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Guild, T. B., H. E. Spence, E. L. Kepko, V. Merkin, J. G. Lyon, M. Wiltberger, and C. C. Goodrich(2008), Geotail and LFM comparisons of plasma sheet climatology: 1. Average values, J. Geophys. Res., 113, A04216, doi:10.1029/2007JA012611.
Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.