Articles | Volume 28, issue 6
23 Jun 2010
 | 23 Jun 2010

The effects of mesoscale regions of precipitation on the ionospheric dynamics, electrodynamics and electron density in the presence of strong ambient electric fields

J. D. de Boer, J.-M. A. Noël, and J.-P. St.-Maurice

Abstract. We have developed a new high resolution two-dimensional model of the high latitude ionosphere in which nonlinear advection terms are closely coupled with the electrodynamics. The model provides a self-consistent description of the ionospheric feedback on the electrodynamical perturbations produced by auroral arc-related particle precipitation in regions with strong ambient electric fields. We find in particular that a heretofore neglected ion Pedersen advection term can introduce considerable changes in the electron density profile, the current density distribution, the conductivities and the electron temperatures. We find that the convective effects can carry the ionisation more than 150 km outside the precipitation region in a few minutes, with attendant large changes in the current distribution and E-region densities that become enhanced outside the region of particle precipitation. The production of a tongue of ionisation that slowly decays outside the auroral boundaries contrasts with the sharp geometric cut-off and associated stronger current densities found in previous studies.