Dynamics of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling

This project addresses the NASA Roadmap challenge to explain, model and predict “how mass and energy flows in the magnetosphere-ionosphere (MI) system determine and control their coupled behavior.” It takes a critical step in integrating theoretical and empirical knowledge of the three key agents of dynamic MI coupling – energy deposition, electron precipitation, and ion outflows – to improve our ability to predict regional and global dynamics of geospace. The primary research objectives are to determine:

  1. How these individual elements interact to regulate their collective behavior
  2. How they determine and control the MI interaction
  3. How they impact the greater solar wind – magnetosphere - ionosphere interaction over the spectrum of interplanetary driving conditions

Global simulation models are being developed to study the effects of solar wind-magnetospheric dynamics on low-altitude energy deposition, and the effects of ionospheric activity on the magnetosphere including scale-interactive transport of magnetic flux, mass, and energy. The models treats the 1) global multifluid-magnetohydrodynamics of the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere interaction; 2) global thermosphere-ionosphere electrodynamics and circulation; and 3) electrodynamic and kinetic linkages involving quasistatic and Alfvén wave dynamics, ionospheric outflows, and electron precipitation in the collisionless MI “gap region.”

This project is funded by a grant from NASA.

Faculty contact: William Lotko