It has been well demonstrated that the nonlinear Kelvin‐Helmholtz (KH) instability plays a critical role for the solar wind interaction with the Earth's magnetosphere. Although the two‐dimensional KH instability has been fully explored during the past decades, more and more studies show the fundamental difference between the two‐ and three‐dimensional KH instability. For northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) conditions, the nonlinear KH wave that is localized in the vicinity of the equatorial plane can dramatically bend the magnetic field line, generating strong antiparallel magnetic field components at high latitudes in both North and South Hemispheres, which satisfy the onset condition for magnetic reconnection. This high‐latitude double reconnection process can exchange the portion of magnetosheath and magnetospheric flux tubes between those two reconnection sites. This study used a high‐resolution 3‐D magnetohydrodynamic simulation to demonstrate that nonlinear KH waves can generate a large amount of double‐reconnected flux during the northward IMF condition, which can efficiently transport the plasma with a high diffusion coefficient of 1 × 1010 m2 s−1 for typical magnetopause conditions at the Earth. The presence of the magnetic field component along the shear flow direction not only decreases the KH growth rate but also causes north‐south asymmetry, which generates more open flux and reduces the efficiency of the plasma transport process.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
American Geophysical Union
Scholarly Commons Citation
Ma, X., Delamere, P., Otto, A., & Burkholder, B. (2017). Plasma Transport Driven by the Three-Dimensional Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 122(10). https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JA024394