Towards understanding the electrodynamics of the 3-dimensional high-latitude ionosphere: present and future
Abstract. Traditionally, due to observational constraints, ionospheric modelling and data analysis techniques have been devised either in one dimension (e.g. along a single radar beam), or in two dimensions (e.g. over a network of magnetometers). With new upcoming missions like the Swarm ionospheric multi-satellite project, or the EISCAT 3-D project, the time has come to take into account variations in all three dimensions simultaneously, as they occur in the real ionosphere. The link between ionospheric electrodynamics and the neutral atmosphere circulation which has gained increasing interest in the recent years also intrinsically requires a truly 3-dimensional (3-D) description. In this paper, we identify five major science questions that need to be addressed by 3-D ionospheric modelling and data analysis. We briefly review what proceedings in the young field of 3-D ionospheric electrodynamics have been made in the past to address these selected question, and we outline how these issues can be addressed in the future with additional observations and/or improved data analysis and simulation techniques. Throughout the paper, we limit the discussion to high-latitude and mesoscale ionospheric electrodynamics, and to directly data-driven (not statistical) data analysis.