On the characterization of magnetic reconnection in global MHD simulations

T. V. Laitinen*, P. Janhunen, T. I. Pulkkinen, M. Palmroth, H. E. J. Koskinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The conventional definition of reconnection rate as the electric field parallel to an x-line is problematic in global MHD simulations for several reasons: the x-line itself may be hard to find in a non-trivial geometry such as at the magnetopause, and the lack of realistic resistivity modelling leaves us without reliable non-convective electric field. In this article we describe reconnection characterization methods that avoid those problems and are practical to apply in global MHD simulations. We propose that the reconnection separator line can be identified as the region where magnetic field lines of different topological properties meet, rather than by local considerations. The global convection associated with reconnection is then quantified by calculating the transfer of mass, energy or magnetic field across the boundary of closed and open field line regions. The extent of the diffusion region is determined from the destruction of electromagnetic energy, given by the divergence of the Poynting vector. Integrals of this energy conversion provide a way to estimate the total reconnection efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3059-3069
Number of pages11
JournalAnnales Geophysicae
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2006
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • magnetospheric physics (instruments and techniques)
  • space plasma physics (magnetic reconnection
  • numerical simulation studies)
  • ART. NO. 1048


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