Merged Modeling & Measurement of Injection Ionospheric Plasma into the Magnetosphere and its Effects



Shasha Zho, U. of Michigan
Barbara Giles, NASA/GSFC/GPL
Vince Eccles, USU/CASS

Meetings & Presentations:

2016 GEM/CEDAR Meeting
2016 Fall AGU Meeting



Description of Focus Group

Over the past four decades it has become progressively more obvious that the Earth’s ionosphere is a significant source of plasma to the magnetosphere and a strong influence on the dynamics of the geospace environment. The ionospheric source is contributing plasma to the plasmasphere, the plasma sheet, and the ring current and through wave-particle interactions is playing a major role in the formation and dynamics of the radiation belts. Hence, the understanding of the strength and dynamics of the outflow of ionospheric particles up into the magnetosphere is of critical importance to understanding how the magnetosphere is populated and influenced by these initially low energy particles. Our current need is to first understand the origin, energization, and dynamics of these particles from the topside ionosphere through both measurement and merged modeling. It is necessary examine these processes using two approaches to build and test an accurate GGCM that can be used to predict ionosphere-magnetosphere coupled dynamics. This goal is the principal motivation for this proposed GEM focus group.

We intend to bring together an international group of experimentalists and modelers to study the physics of the ionospheric source and the effects of populating the magnetosphere with ionospheric plasma. A previous GEM focus group brought together data and models to provide a first look into the topic by demonstrating the importance of ionospheric outflow, but it revealed deep differences between different models and between data and models. This new GEM focus will address model differences and comparisons with data from new satellite missions: the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission and the E-POP ionospheric outflow mission. To refine the study of the different ionospheric outflow models we intend to include ionospheric spacecraft and ground-based data to properly account for the ionospheric boundary below the energization of the ion outflow. Completion and inter-comparison of these merged models will be an important part of this proposed focus group activity.

Importantly, the new availability of the E-POP and MMS data is ideal for comparison with the merged models. The unique and extensive capabilities of the four spacecraft MMS mission will bring a comprehensive set of plasma instrument techniques that will permit the measurement of the low energy outflowing ionospheric plasma and observe its progressive energization in the lobes, the plasma sheet, and the ring current. The MMS orbits are ideal to follow the outflow of the plasma from the ionosphere across the polar cap and the lobes of the tail and into the plasma sheet region where it is energized and transported Earthward becoming the warm plasma cloak and the ring current. Being able to measure this process and to compare it with the evolving merged models will an important component of GEM activities over the 5 years of the focus area.