The impact of regional-scale neutral atmospheric waves has been demonstrated to have profound effects on the ionosphere, but the circumstances under which they generate ionospheric disturbances and seed plasma instabilities are not well understood. Neutral atmospheric waves vary from infrasonic waves of <20 Hz to gravity waves with periods on the order of 10 min, for simplicity, hereafter they are combined under the common term Acoustic and Gravity Waves (AGWs). There are other longer period waves like planetary waves from the lower and middle atmosphere, whose effects are important globally, but they are not considered here. The most ubiquitous and frequently observed impact of AGWs on the ionosphere are Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (TIDs), but AGWs also affect the global ionosphere/thermosphere circulation and can trigger ionospheric instabilities (e.g., Perkins, Equatorial Spread F). The purpose of this white paper is to outline additional studies and observations that are required in the coming decade to improve our understanding of the impact of AGWs on the ionosphere.
This content will become publicly available on November 9, 2023
Improving ionospheric predictability requires accurate simulation of the mesospheric polar vortex
The mesospheric polar vortex (MPV) plays a critical role in coupling the atmosphere-ionosphere system, so its accurate simulation is imperative for robust predictions of the thermosphere and ionosphere. While the stratospheric polar vortex is widely understood and characterized, the mesospheric polar vortex is much less well-known and observed, a short-coming that must be addressed to improve predictability of the ionosphere. The winter MPV facilitates top-down coupling via the communication of high energy particle precipitation effects from the thermosphere down to the stratosphere, though the details of this mechanism are poorly understood. Coupling from the bottom-up involves gravity waves (GWs), planetary waves (PWs), and tidal interactions that are distinctly different and important during weak vs. strong vortex states, and yet remain poorly understood as well. Moreover, generation and modulation of GWs by the large wind shears at the vortex edge contribute to the generation of traveling atmospheric disturbances and traveling ionospheric disturbances. Unfortunately, representation of the MPV is generally not accurate in state-of-the-art general circulation models, even when compared to the limited observational data available. Models substantially underestimate eastward momentum at the top of the MPV, which limits the ability to predict upward effects in the thermosphere. The zonal wind bias more »
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- Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences
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- National Science Foundation
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