Articles | Volume 16, issue 10
Special issue:
31 Oct 1998
31 Oct 1998

The thermospheric effects of a rapid polar cap expansion

D. W. Idenden

Abstract. In a previous publication we used results from a coupled thermosphere-ionosphere-plasmasphere model to illustrate a new mechanism for the formation of a large-scale patch of ionisation arising from a rapid polar cap expansion. Here we describe the thermospheric response to that polar cap expansion, and to the ionospheric structure produced. The response is dominated by the energy and momentum input at the dayside throat during the expansion phase itself. These inputs give rise to a large-scale travelling atmospheric disturbance (TAD) that propagates both antisunward across the polar cap and equatorward at speeds much greater than both the ion drifts and the neutral winds. We concentrate only on the initially poleward travelling disturbance. The disturbance is manifested in the neutral temperature and wind fields, the height of the pressure level surfaces and in the neutral density at fixed heights. The thermospheric effects caused by the ionospheric structure produced during the expansion are hard to discern due to the dominating effects of the TAD.

Key words. Ionosphere (ionosphere · atmosphere interaction; modeling and forecasting; plasma convection).

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