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Investigating Potential Causes for the Prediction of Spurious Magnetopause Crossings at Geosynchronous Orbit in MHD Simulations
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  • Pauline Dredger,
  • Ramon E Lopez,
  • Yaireska Marie Collado-Vega,
  • Shreeya Khurana,
  • Lutz Rastaetter
Pauline Dredger
The University of Texas at Arlington

Corresponding Author:pauline.dredger@mavs.uta.edu

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Ramon E Lopez
University of Texas at Arlington
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Yaireska Marie Collado-Vega
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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Shreeya Khurana
Montgomery Blair High School
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Lutz Rastaetter
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During intense geomagnetic storms, the magnetopause can move in as far as geosynchronous orbit, leaving the satellites in that orbit out in the magnetosheath. Spacecraft operators turn to numerical models to predict the response of the magnetopause to solar wind conditions, but the predictions of the models are not always accurate. This study investigates four storms with a magnetopause crossing by at least one GOES satellite, using four magnetohydrodynamic models at NASA’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) to simulate the events, and analyzes the results to investigate the reasons for errors in the predictions. Two main reasons can explain most of the erroneous predictions. Firstly, the solar wind input to the simulations often contains features measured near the L1 point that did not eventually arrive at Earth; incorrect predictions during such periods are not the fault of the models. Secondly, while the models do well when the primary driver of magnetopause motion is a variation in the solar wind density, they tend to overpredict or underpredict the Birkeland currents during times of strong negative IMF Bz, leading to poorer prediction capability. Coupling the MHD codes to a ring current model, when such a coupling is available, generally will improve the predictions but will not always entirely correct them. More work is needed to fully characterize the response of each code under strong southward IMF conditions as it relates to prediction of magnetopause location.