Use of multi-point analysis and modelling to address cross-scale coupling in space plasmas: lessons from cluster

M. W. Dunlop, R. Bingham, S. Chapman, P. Escoubet, Q-H. Zhang, C. Shen, J-K Shi, R. Trines, R. Wicks, Z-Y. Pu, J. de-Keyser, S. Schwartz, Z-X Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The properties of plasmas (in space) are fundamentally governed by both 'cross-scale' coupling and comparative temporal behaviour operating over the micro-, meso-, and (MHD-) fluid regimes: for example, under conditions of turbulence, during magnetic reconnection and in shocks and other plasma boundaries. These themes map to a number of related and overlapping, phenomena, where known phenomena play different roles in each theme. Detailed understanding of fundamental plasma processes therefore requires analysis of both theoretical models (to distinguish the collisionless from the collisional regimes) and multi-scale measurements (suitable to address issues of stationarity). In particular, the investigation of phenomena requires analysis techniques which can distinguish and quantify temporal behaviour and the multi-scale spatial behaviour. The analysis of existing, multi-point data sets has led to a number of data co-ordination methods, such as the four spacecraft analysis tools developed for cluster, and we consider examples here. Advanced analysis concepts may be investigated with suitable considerations of measurement quality:adequate sampling of phenomena (for example, to extract the necessary information on the mechanisms operating) requires suitable spacecraft configurations and directly relates to the measurement quality achievable. A particular issue is how to resolve temporal behaviour across the spatial regimes, so that the data set is suitably coordinated. With the addition of theoretical modelling (in the context of particular phenomena) both the space and laboratory plasma regimes may be compared and we give an example of nonlinear wave coupling across spatial scales in this context. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-638
Number of pages9
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number7
Early online date22 Jun 2010
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • cross-scale coupling
  • multi-scale measurements
  • reconnection
  • turbulence
  • wave mode coupling


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