Simulation of polar cap fast flow channels and their impacts on auroral and magnetotail activity

This project explores a newly proposed pathway to the development of the important class of auroral activations called poleward boundary intensifications (PBIs). PBIs are powered by Alfvénic electromagnetic power flowing into the polar cap boundary region from the magnetotail, and they are precursors to very dynamic and energetic events called auroral substorms. Localized channels or jets of fast polar convection flowing from higher latitudes into the nightside auroral – polar cap boundary appear to initiate PBI onset. The recent development of very high-resolution grids for the Dartmouth Lyon-Fedder-Mobarry global simulation model of geospace is enabling its application to this problem. The project has the following objectives:

  1. Analyze modalities of formation of fast flow channels in the polar ionosphere.
  2. Determine their evolution and properties across the PC, in the lobes and magnetotail.
  3. Evaluate their casual impacts on auroral and magnetotail activity and plasmasheet dynamics.

Faculty contact: William Lotko