FG: Mesoscale drivers of the nightside transition region ionospheric and magnetotail evaluations

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General Description

The Nightside Transition Region (NTR) is located between the outer and inner magnetosphere, and is characterized by the transition from a stretched magnetotail to a more dipolar inner magnetospheric field topology. During quiet times, the NTR acts like a “magnetic wall,” deflecting plasma and associated plasma structures around the inner magnetosphere. During active times, the NTR is a location of intense plasma energization and transport, often associated with the formation and evolution of mesoscale structures as the plasma dynamics in the transition region evolve. In recent years, our understanding of the NTR has advanced considerably due to coordinated space- and ground-based observations, as well as magnetosphere and ionosphere modeling efforts. The ground-based observations, particularly imaging systems, are arguably the only way to track the formation and evolution of mesoscale processes over a large enough region of space to tie these observations to a system-level understanding. In coordination with multiple in-situ satellites, this is an incredibly powerful combination that can “drill in” at multiple scale sizes, informing global and local models of plasma interactions. The current understanding of the plasma dynamics in the region is that most of the plasma transport and energization occurs as the plasma moves inwards from the magnetotail to the inner magnetosphere via mesoscale flows (~10s-100s km wide, when observed in the ionosphere). These flows sometimes manifest themselves as optical streamers, while others can remain invisible with current imaging technologies. Despite much research, we still do not fully understand how these mesoscale structures are incorporated in the global dynamics of the NTR, or how they are coupled to (and why they can have multiple manifestations in) the ionospheric system. It is this type of mesoscale structuring of plasma, and its connection to ionospheric processes within the NTR that we are proposing to study within this focus group. Those auroral processes such as beads, streamers, patches, omega bands, SAR arcs, STEVE, etc., all of which are driven by magnetospheric counterparts rooted in the NTR region and whose evolution is intimately tied to the large- scale dynamics of the magnetospheric system. We recognize that this is a very broad topic for a focus group, but we also know these auroral forms (and associated plasma processes) do not occur in isolation. They are often observed together and connected to magnetospheric activity levels, yet historically they have been studied largely independent of each other. Our focus group proposes to unite the study of NTR processes whose scale size sits between 10-100km in the ionosphere (1000km- to a few Re in the magnetotail) and for which the ionosphere-magnetosphere connection is best studied through coordinated ground and in situ observations. We will strive to uncover inter-connections between NTR processes, and connections between NTR processes and the larger magnetospheric dynamics.


The overarching goal of this proposed Focus Group is to utilize ground- and satellite-based data to understand the evolution and drivers of plasma processes in the NTR, and how they connect to ionospheric observations. This will help facilitate more realistic modeling representations of the region.


For full FG proposal CLICK HERE.

Focus Group Chairs

Bea Gallardo-Lacourt, NASA-GSFC/ORAU (bea.gallardolacourt@nasa.gov)

Gareth Perry, New Jersey Institute of Technology(gperry@njit.edu)

Emma Spanswick, University of Calgary (elspansw@ucalgary.ca)

Banafsheh (Bashi) Ferdousi, University of New Hampshire (Banafsheh.Ferdousi@unh.edu)

Yaireska (Yari) Collado-Vega, NASA-GSFC (yaireska.m.colladovega@nasa.gov)


GEM Workshop 2022

Access the PDF files of presented talks CLICK HERE.

Our focus group has three sessions planned at GEM this year. We’ve divided these sessions into three different themes:

1. First session: MESO/CEDAR joint, Monday June 20, 2022, 13:30 - 15:00 HST. During this session we will discuss the ionospheric implication and phenomena that take place in the NTR. For example, STEVE and SAR arcs. This session will be a joint session with CEDAR (connected via video conferencing link).

2. Second session: Magnetospheric aspects of the NTR processes, Tuesday June 21, 2022, 1:30 - 3:00 pm HST. Inner plasma sheet dynamic, pulsating aurora, energetic interactions around the NTR, etc

3. Third session: Meso/Dipolarization joint, Friday June 24, 2022, 10:30 - 12:00 HST. For this joint session we will follow the Dipolarization FG discussion of the last years on the roles that mesoscale phenomena (e.g. DFBs, BBFs, injections, streamers) play with respect to the global system response (e.g. global dipolarization, MLT wide injections). As the Dipolarization FG winds down, the Transition FG will take the lead on this topic. For this session, we therefore solicit contributions that address this question.


Please submit by June 1st (soft deadline)


For remote presenters, virtual contribution options will be available. Students’ talks are highly encouraged. Feel free to contact Bea Gallardo-Lacourt (gallardolacourt@cua.edu) with questions.


Tentative Agenda

MESO+CEDAR Joint: Monday, June 20, 1:00 - 3:00 pm HST (6:00-8:00pm CDT) -- Stingray Room

  • Phil Erickson - STEVE workshop updates and future plans
  • Lindsay Goodwin - Multipoint Observations of STEVE Precursors
  • Bharat Kunduri - An examination of magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere coupling during STEVE
  • Valerie Svaldi - High Latitude Ionospheric Electrodynamics during STEVE Events
  • Naomi Maruyama - Impact of substorm injections on Magnetosphere-Ionosphere coupling
  • Jun Liang - TBD
  • Carlos Martinis - SAR arcs & STEVE
  • Eric Donovan - Updates on TREx
  • Shasha Zou - Impact of the NTR on polar cap patch evolution
  • Nithin Sivadas - Current sheet scattering from the night-side transition regions and their auroral signatures


Mesoscale structures in the NTR-Magnetosphere: Tuesday, June 21, 1:30pm-3:00pm HST -- Bluefin Room

  • Megan Gillies - quick review to SAR arc and STEVE spectrographic measurements
  • Alexa Halford - LAMP mission overview
  • Allison Jaynes - Persistent, energetic pulsating aurora during the LAMP mission launch window
  • Mike Shumko - A Strong Correlation Between Relativistic Electron Microbursts and Patchy Aurora
  • Jun Liang - Low-energy plasma structure and patchy pulsating aurora: observational evidence and numerical simulation
  • Kyle Murphy - The asi_tools library - Accessing all sky imager data
  • Mike Shumko - Quick overview of Python aurora-ASI-lib
  • Sneha Babu - Probing the magnetospheric substorm onset mechanism using pitch angle resolved GOES satellite energetic particle data
  • Sheng Tian - Auroral beads in conjunction with kinetic Alfven waves in the equatorial inner-magnetosphere
  • Jiang Liu - Embedded Region 1 and 2 currents: preferred conditions and indications on how they arise and impact the transition region


MESO/DIP Joint Session: Friday, June 24, 10:30am-12:00pm HST -- Stingray Room

  • Yangyang Shen - Contribution of kinetic Alfvén waves to energetic electron scattering and precipitation from plasma sheet injections
  • James Weygand - ASI and GOES Observations of Nighttime Magnetic Perturbation Events Observed in Canada
  • Chih-Ping Wang - RCM simulation of azimuthal expansion of plasma sheet bubble in transition region
  • Sheng Tiang - Coordinated observations on how global-scale dipolarizations couple to the ionosphere and meso-scale dipolarizations
  • Matt Cooper - Field-aligned thermodynamic features represented in the Middle Energy Inner Magnetosphere (MEIM) Model
  • Kareem Sorathia - Global modeling of multiscale stormtime magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling
  • Homayon Aryan - The response of ionospheric currents to different types of magnetospheric fast flow bursts