The goal of this investigation is to enhance an understanding of the global morphology of ionospheric conductivity and Joule heating and to better define their role in the energetics of the thermosphere and ionosphere. The morphology of Joule heating is not well understood at this time because of the difficulty of measuring all the relevant electrodynamic and neutral parameters (e.g. electric fields, conductivities, neutral winds) on both the local and global scales. An accurate knowledge of Joule heating is important because it contributes >10% of the global thermospheric energy budget, and is a major factor in determining the global latitudinal gradients of temperature, wind, composition and hence the F-region electron density. The proposers will use the Thermosphere Ionosphere Electrodynamic General Circulation Model (TIEGCM) and the Assimilative Mapping of Ionospheric Electrodynamics (AMIE) technique to investigate the temporal and spatial morphology of the global conductivity and Joule heating, and its effects.
The detailed study of Joule heating is a difficult problem, involving complex modeling techniques and the analysis of multiple data sets, which is beyond the scope of a single investigator. The proposed work requires a team approach, and the proposal team consists of well known experts in their field.
The proposed research is vitally important for a detailed understanding of the thermosphere-ionosphere-magnetosphere coupling. This study is directly relevant to a variety of National programs such as CEDAR, the Space Weather Initiative and the NASA/TIMED mission. High school students will be involved in the work through a mentoring program at SwRI.