Time-dependent MHD wave coupling in non-uniform media
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This thesis studies the time dependent evolution of MHD waves in cold, fully compressible non-uniform plasmas. We used a 1-D box model (e.g., Southwood (1974)) to study wave mode coupling, and concentrate upon developing an understanding of the underlying physics that governs waves in the Earth's magnetosphere. We begin by discussing the form of the (often singular) governing eigenmodes of the system, and subsequently use these eigenmodes as a basis with which to construct the solution to a variety of initial value problems. We consider a detailed analysis of both the widths and the internal length scales developed by cavity mode driven held line resonances (FLRs), and compare our results to observations presented in the literature. We find that (especially asymptotically in time) the coupled waves derive their dominant characteristics from the form of undriven decoupled toroidal Alfvén eigenmodes. Ideal numerical solutions show that fine spatial scales are developed across the background magnetic field, and we demonstrate that this is accurately estimated as the decoupled phase mixing length L[sub]p[sub]h = 2π/𝜔ⁱ[sub]A = d 𝜔[sub]A/dx We also discuss the likely ionospheric and kinetic modifications to our theory. Later, we consider the evolution of poloidal Alfvén waves having large azimuthal wavenumber (𝜆). We find that the 𝜆 → ∞ decoupled poloidal Alfvén wave evaluation (Dungey, 1967) is modified for finite 𝜆 lambda, approaching decoupled toroidal field line oscillations for large t. We define a poloidal lifetime 𝛵, when toroidal and poloidal displacements become equal, and demonstrate that this is when the phase mixing length is equal to 2pi/lambda. We examine numerically the poloidal Alfvén wave evolution for 𝜆 ≫ k[sub]z, and k[sub]≳ lambda, when k[sub]x(x,t = 0) ≪ lambda or k[sub]z. We interpret the lambda ≪ kz results (applicable to the Earth's magnetosphere) in the context of poloidal Alfvén wave observations, and compare our study to the numerical analysis of Ding et al. (1995). We conclude the thesis by undertaking an asymptotic derivation of the large 𝜆 solutions by using the method of multiple time scales. We find our analytic solutions are in excellent agreement with those determined numerically. A central result of the thesis is the importance and dominance of the phase mixing length for time dependent solutions, irrespective of the value of 𝜆.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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