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Merged Modeling & Measurement of Injection Ionospheric Plasma into the Magnetosphere and Its Effects (M3-I2)



M3-I2 Community Storm Studies:

Storm 2 Still in discussion because ACE data interruptions (Possibly: 2016 May 6-10 (127-131))


CO-CHAIRS (alphabetical):

Rick Chappell, emeritus Vanderbilt Univ / emeritus NASA MSFC, rick.chappell@vanderbilt.edu

Barbara Giles, Geospace Physics Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, barbara.giles@nasa.gov

Shasha Zou, Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering (CLaSP), University of Michigan, shashaz@umich.edu

GOAL: Our goal is to understand the role of the ionosphere in populating the magnetosphere with plasma and the magnetospheric dynamics that are influenced by this process. Key components of this goal:

(1) refined outflow models through comparison to measurements and inter-model comparisons

(2) merge GGCMs with coupled ion-outflow models

(3) quantitative and qualitative understanding of the ion upflow and the effects of ion outflow on plasma sheet, ring current, substorm dynamics

(4) Decadal Survey recommendations for M-I studies & future satellite missions.


- Furthering the development of mature Merged GGCM models of the ionosphere-thermosphere, polar wind, and magnetosphere AND encouragement/support for the steady development of OpenGGCM.

- Inclusion of specific data sets of Merged Model and Measurement comparisons. These spacecraft and ground-based data sets will strive to present quiet time and active time periods with a range of season and solar cycle for comparison against the merged model results.

- GEM GGCM modeling challenge, including models specific to most urgent, focused science questions to be solved

- Special journal section(s).


- Refining the physics of ionospheric ion energization through the examination of data and comparisons of different Polar Wind models.

- Differentiating the influence of ion outflow on regions of the magnetosphere ring current, tail substorm physics, dayside magnetopause including plasmaspheric plumes, outflow through lobes into plasma sheet.

- Engaging the new and growing community by identifying open questions and potential approaches, to further develop the underlying physics embedded the Polar Wind Models and GGCM’s.

- Leveraging new data sets for model-data comparisons (ePOP, MMS, RBSP).

- Including ionospheric datasets to examine GGCM drivers and lower boundary conditions of the ionosphere (SuperDARN, GPS-TEC, Incoherent Scatter Radar, Sounding Rocket, … ). Best accomplished through collaborations with CEDAR community.


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.