A great deal of the research done on the dynamical process of the solar wind- magnetosphere interaction is based on large-scale, quasi-steady theoretical models, such as the classical reconnection model. However, it can be argued that the theoretical and observational foundations of these commonly believed paradigms are not always strong, and support for these models is sometimes weak, controversial or inconsistent. This paper discusses the need for a transition from an oversimplified quasi-steady paradigm towards a more realistic one including the dynamics of MHD waves and wave packets. The effects of localized wave packets may be most important in active plasma regions, where ideal MHD breaks down and localized, time-dependent processes become dominant. New insights into the theories of field-aligned current generation, auroral particle acceleration and the concept of reconnection may be found by including MHD wave propagation and wave packet dynamics.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We have benefited from discussions with many of our colleagues, including V. Angelopoulos, G. Haerendel, H. Kawano, H. Koskinen, N. Lin, T. Lui, T.-D. Phan, G. Rostoker, M. Ruohoniemi, B. U. O. Sonnerup, W. Sun, M. Temerin. This work has been supported in part by NSF Grant ATM-9502907 and by NASA grants NAG5-4466 and NAG5-8082.