FG: 3D Ionospheric Electrodynamics and Its Impact on the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere Coupled System

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Focus Group Chairs

  • Hyunju Connor (hkconnor@alaska.edu)
  • Bin Zhang (binzheng@ucar.edu)
  • Gang Lu (ganglu@ucar.edu)
  • Haje Korth (haje.korth@jhuapl.edu)


  • Five years (2017-2021)

Research area

  • Magnetosphere – Ionosphere Coupling
  • Global System Modeling


The magnetosphere is one of the major energy sources that drive the Earth's upper atmosphere. During geomagnetic storms, the magnetosphere transmits significant energy and momentum into the upper atmosphere via field-aligned currents, Poynting flux, and auroral precipitation. In response, the ionospheric electric potentials and conductances increase, the thermosphere heats and expands, and the global atmospheric circulation changes. The ionosphere – thermosphere feedback can also influence magnetospheric dynamics. The heated thermosphere can enhance ionospheric outflows and change magnetic reconnection rates. The modified global circulation redistributes plasmas and neutrals, alters the ionospheric conductance and electric field, and thus changes the magnetospheric convection and reconnection. Although strong coupling of the magnetosphere – ionosphere – thermosphere (MIT) system are widely recognized by the space science community, studying this coupling dynamics as a whole global system has yet to be conducted comprehensively. To magnetospheric scientists, the ionosphere is treated as a two- dimensional, low-altitude boundary. The mass and momentum exchanges between the magnetosphere and the IT system are often ignored. More realistic calculation of upper atmospheric dynamics is necessary in the global magnetosphere - ionosphere models. To upper atmospheric scientists, simple statistical convection patterns and empirical auroral precipitation fluxes driven by the Kp and hemispheric power indices are commonly used to infer complicated magnetospheric dynamics. As a consequence, global IT models (e.g. CTIPe, TIEGCM, and GTIM) cannot sufficiently capture the spatiotemporal dynamics of magnetospheric energy sources during strong geomagnetic activities, thus limiting the predictive capability of these models when it is most needed. More realistic calculation of magnetospheric energy input is necessary. In recent years, the coupled magnetosphere – ionosphere – thermosphere (MIT) models (e.g. OpenGGCM- CTIM, LFM-TIEGCM, BATSRUS-GTIM, and AMIE-TIEGCM) have been gradually matured to the point to revisit the extensive ground/space observations and to investigate the complex coupling processes of the MIT system. It is thus the proper time to build on and expand these recent efforts. For the next five years, this new focus group (FG) will address, via modeling and observational approaches, 1) where, when, and how magnetospheric energy contributes to the IT system and 2) how the IT system feeds back to the magnetosphere.

Goals and Deliverables

The ultimate goal of this focus group is to advance our physics-based understanding of global magnetosphere – ionosphere – thermosphere coupling dynamics. We are particularly interested in the following topics:

  1. Momentum/Energy input from the magnetosphere to the upper atmosphere: The small and large-scale patterns of field-aligned currents, auroral precipitation, and Poynting flux during various geomagnetic events will be carefully examined using observations, theoretical calculations, and numerical simulations.
  2. Responses of three-dimensional IT system to the magnetospheric input: This FG will investigate the impact of magnetospheric momentum/energy inputs on the three- dimensional IT system using global MIT models and/or global IT models coupled with AMIE. We will address how the spatiotemporal dynamics of magnetospheric input modifies the altitudinal profiles of electron density, ionospheric conductivity, and Joule heating. We will also study how this modification influences global ionospheric electrodynamics.
  3. IT feedbacks to the magnetosphere: Variations in global ionospheric electrodynamics can influence the magnetospheric convection patterns and modify the magnetic reconnection rates. The coupled magnetosphere – ionosphere – thermosphere models can be a good tool to investigate the IT dynamics and their impact on the magnetospheric phenomena. Additionally, strong Joule heating and enhanced ionospheric temperature can produce ion outflows and modulate the reconnection rates. The outcome from this FG can be a good asset for the ion outflow modelers.

The main deliverables of this focus group will include the development, refinement, and application of more comprehensive and self-consistent, physics-based models that cover from the magnetosphere to the upper atmosphere, those of which fulfill the main objective of the GEM program.

2018 mini-GEM Workshop - updated on Oct 5, 2018

  • Location: Hilton Old Town Alexandria in Alexandria, Virginia.
  • Time: 12:00-13:30, 13:50-15:20, and 15:30-17:00 on Dec 10, Sunday before the AGU meeting.

Dear GEM and CEDAR scientists,

Three MIT sessions are scheduled for the mini-GEM workshop. The last session will be a joint session with Modeling Methods & Validation focus group, titled "ionospheric conductance challenge".

*** Confirmed Speaker List ***

  1. Dogacan Ozturk - the effects of small-scale electric fields on the MIT coupling
  2. Jonathan Krall - the effect of oxygen on the limiting H+ flux in the topside ionosphere
  3. Kevin Pham - CMIT modeling
  4. Alex Chartier - The cause of the puzzling annual variability of polar cap patches
  5. Xiaozia Zhang - Diffuse aurora precipitation pattern deduced from the Electron-Cyclotron-Harmonics waves in the inner magnetosphere
  6. Qingyu Zhu - Boundary-oriented convection and particle precipitation patterns for IMF Bz southward dominant conditions and their impacts on Joule heating: Preliminary results

2018 GEM Workshop - updated on Jun 18, 2018

Dear GEM and CEDAR scientists,

Here are the schedules for IEMIT-IHMIC and IEMIT sessions. We encourage both GEM and CEDAR scientists to join our discussion. We also allow walk-in presentations. If you are interested in giving a talk, please let us know by Friday morning. Here are emails of conveners: Hyunju Connor at hkconnor@alaska.edu and Hyomin Kim at hmkim@njit.edu.

Friday, June 22, 13:30-15:00 (IEMIT-IHMIC Joint FG Session)

*** Location: Eldorado B ***

10min is given per talk. We recommend to prepare 7min talk + 3min discussion. You can check the same schedule in the following website. [IHMIC].

  1. Bob Clauer: Inter-hemispheric Comparisons along the 40-degree magnetic meridian
  2. Denny Oliveira: GIC induced by interplanetary planetary shocks
  3. Michelle Salzano: A Statistical Analysis of Interhemispheric Pi1B Seasonal Variations
  4. Hyunju Connor -Solar wind dynamic pressure impact on high-latitude neutral density enhancement: OpenGGCM-CTIM results
  5. Doga Ozturk - Modeling of coupled MIT system response to solar wind dynamic pressure enhancement
  6. Kevin Pham - CMIT-IPWM one way coupling - Thermosphere impact on the magnetosphere
  7. Open discussions and walk-in presentations

Friday, June 22, 15:30-17:00 (IEMIT Session)

*** Location: Eldorado B ***

Dear speakers,

There has been schedule changes. Please check below. 10min is given per talk, but please expect some delays in the schedule. I recommend speakers to prepare up to 5 slides, 5min talk, and 5min discussion. Please send your final slides to hkconnor@alaska.edu by Friday noon.

  1. 3:30pm: Hyunju Connor - Introduction of the IEMIT session.
  2. 3:35pm: Marc Lessard - Neutral upwelling event observed from the RENU2 sounding rocket
  3. 3:45pm: Brent Sadler - Simulation Study of Small-scale Plasma / Neutral Dynamics during Poleward Moving Auroral Forms
  4. 3:55pm: Kristina Lynch - Isinglass auroral rocket study and ARCS (Auroral Reconstruction CubeSwarm) mission
  5. 4:05pm: Christine Gabrielse: Statistical study of mesoscale plasma flows in the ionosphere
  6. 4:15pm: Olga Verkhoglyadova - dynamic and localized energy transport in the high-latitude IT
  7. 4:25pm: Russell Cosgrove : Failure of the Electrostatic Assumption and Affects on E-Region Coupling
  8. 4:35pm: Larry Lyons : Identification of auroral zone activity driving large-scale traveling ionospheric disturbances
  9. 4:45pm: open discussion and walk-in presentations


Hyunju Connor, Binzheng Zhang, Gang Lu, and Haje Korth.

2017 Mini-GEM Workshop - Updated on Dec 6

  • Location: Magnolia Room, Hilton Garden Inn - New Orleans Convention Center, 1001 S Peters St, New Orleans, LA70130
  • Time: 15:30 - 17:00pm on Dec 10

Dear speakers,

Here is a tentative schedule for our mini-GEM session. Please visit this website again for the final schedule. If you need to change the schedule, please send an email to hkconnor@alaska.edu.

We now have a total of 11 speakers. We still keep 10min per talk except the last two talks. For speakers who get 10 mins, please prepare 7min talk and 3min question time. To save time, please send your presentation files to hkconnor@alaska.edu by 3pm on Dec 10. This session will follow a typical GEM style format, i.e., audiences can ask questions during the presentations. We are looking forward to your talks. Thank you.

  1. Evan Thomas: New statistical patterns of ionospheric convection derived from SuperDARN observations
  2. Jennifer Carter: Two mechanisms for dayside polar cap auroral emissions under northward IMF
  3. Alex Chartier: Puzzling Global (N+S) December Maximum of Polar Cap Patches Observed using Swarm
  4. Qingyu Zhu: Impacts of small scale electric field/particle precipitation on Joule heating: GITM simulations
  5. Olga Verkhoglyadova: Semi-analytical estimation of energy deposition by Alfven waves into the ionosphere during storms
  6. Robert Rankin: Suppression of the ionospheric feedback instability
  7. Ryan McGranaghan: Characteristics of multi-scale field aligned currents and implications for the magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere system
  8. Doga Ozturk: Response of the coupled M-I-T system to the March 17, 2015 solar wind dynamic pressure enhancement event, insights from numerical studies
  9. Ivan Pakhotin: The role of Alfven waves in M-I coupling: Swarm observations of large-amplitude magnetic perturbations during northward IMF
  10. Dong Lin (5min talk): The Role of Solar Wind Density in the Cross Polar Cap Potential Saturation under Northward Interplanetary Magnetic Field
  11. Naomi Maruyama (5min talk): Ionosphere-Plasmasphere-Magnetosphere coupling during the St. Patrick's Day Storms on 2013 and 2015

Session Proposal

Download the session proposal here.

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