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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 27, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 27, 199–230, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-27-199-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 27, 199–230, 2009
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-27-199-2009
© Author(s) 2009. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  13 Jan 2009

13 Jan 2009

Coupled rotational dynamics of Jupiter's thermosphere and magnetosphere

C. G. A. Smith1,* and A. D. Aylward1 C. G. A. Smith and A. D. Aylward
  • 1Atmospheric Physics Laboratory, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University College, London, UK
  • *now at: Teesdale School, Barnard Castle, County Durham, UK

Abstract. We describe an axisymmetric model of the coupled rotational dynamics of the thermosphere and magnetosphere of Jupiter that incorporates self-consistent physical descriptions of angular momentum transfer in both systems. The thermospheric component of the model is a numerical general circulation model. The middle magnetosphere is described by a simple physical model of angular momentum transfer that incorporates self-consistently the effects of variations in the ionospheric conductivity. The outer magnetosphere is described by a model that assumes the existence of a Dungey cycle type interaction with the solar wind, producing at the planet a largely stagnant plasma flow poleward of the main auroral oval. We neglect any decoupling between the plasma flows in the magnetosphere and ionosphere due to the formation of parallel electric fields in the magnetosphere. The model shows that the principle mechanism by which angular momentum is supplied to the polar thermosphere is meridional advection and that mean-field Joule heating and ion drag at high latitudes are not responsible for the high thermospheric temperatures at low latitudes on Jupiter. The rotational dynamics of the magnetosphere at radial distances beyond ~30 RJ in the equatorial plane are qualitatively unaffected by including the detailed dynamics of the thermosphere, but within this radial distance the rotation of the magnetosphere is very sensitive to the rotation velocity of the thermosphere and the value of the Pedersen conductivity. In particular, the thermosphere connected to the inner magnetosphere is found to super-corotate, such that true Pedersen conductivities smaller than previously predicted are required to enforce the observed rotation of the magnetosphere within ~30 RJ. We find that increasing the Joule heating at high latitudes by adding a component due to rapidly fluctuating electric fields is unable to explain the high equatorial temperatures. Adding a component of Joule heating due to fluctuations at low latitudes is able to explain the high equatorial temperatures, but the thermospheric wind systems generated by this heating cause super-corotation of the inner magnetosphere in contradiction to the observations. We conclude that the coupled model is a particularly useful tool for study of the thermosphere as it allows us to constrain the plausibility of predicted thermospheric structures using existing observations of the magnetosphere.

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