This project will combine observations of ionospheric ions throughout the magnetosphere-ionosphere system with the Generalized Polar Wind (GPW) model of ionospheric outflows and a magnetohydrodynamic code for simulating the magnetosphere. The GPW is a macroscopic Particle-In-Cell (mac-PIC) code. It will be coupled to the Block Adaptive Tree Solar wind Roe-type Upwind Scheme (BATS-R-US) MHD model using a system called the Space Weather Modeling Framework. The codes will be used to perform a set of simulations, representing a combination of terrestrial season, level of solar flux, and level of magnetospheric activity. The results from the coupled models will be compared to uncoupled results to illuminate the role of the ionospheric plasma in magnetospheric dynamics. To validate and refine the simulation results, a climatological observation set of outflowing plasma both in the ionosphere and within the magnetosphere will be constructed from historical data sets. The climatological model will be binned by season, magnetic activity, and location. Event simulations will be performed and compared with the climatological data to investigate transient dynamics.
This project will advance our understanding of the role of the Earth's ionospheric environment in filling its magnetospheric space environment with plasma. The data-model comparisons, both on a climatological and event-study level, will advance the accuracy of ionospheric outflow models and Geospace General Circulation Models. The coupling of an ionospheric outflow model to an MHD model of the magnetosphere will add a fundamentally important element to our ability to forecast the dynamics of the magnetosphere.