Articles | Volume 23, issue 10
30 Nov 2005
 | 30 Nov 2005

A self-consistent derivation of ion drag and Joule heating for atmospheric dynamics in the thermosphere

X. Zhu, E. R. Talaat, J. B. H. Baker, and J.-H. Yee

Abstract. The thermosphere is subject to additional electric and magnetic forces, not important in the middle and lower atmosphere, due to its partially ionized atmosphere. The effects of charged particles on the neutral atmospheric dynamics are often parameterized by ion drag in the momentum equations and Joule heating in the energy equation. Presented in this paper are a set of more accurate parameterizations for the ion drag and Joule heating for the neutral atmosphere that are functions of the difference between bulk ion velocity and neutral wind. The parameterized expressions also depend on the magnetic field, the Pedersen and Hall conductivities, and the ratio of the ion cyclotron frequency to the ion-neutral collision frequency. The formal relationship between the electromagnetic energy, atmospheric kinetic energy, and Joule heating is illustrated through the conversion terms between these three types of energy. It is shown that there will always be an accompanying conversion of kinetic energy into Joule heating when electromagnetic energy is generated through the dynamo mechanism of the atmospheric neutral wind. Likewise, electromagnetic energy cannot be fully converted into kinetic energy without producing Joule heating in the thermosphere.