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Mathematical simulation of the ionospheric electric field as a part of the Global Electric Circuit

Denisenko, V., Rycroft, M. and Harrison, G. ORCID: (2019) Mathematical simulation of the ionospheric electric field as a part of the Global Electric Circuit. Surveys in Geophysics, 40 (1). pp. 1-35. ISSN 1573-0956

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10712-018-9499-6


Electric currents flowing in the Global Electric Circuit are closed by ionospheric currents. A model for the distribution of the ionospheric potential which drives these currents is constructed. Only the internal electric fields and currents generated by thunderstorms are studied, and without any magnetospheric current sources or generators. The atmospheric conductivity profiles with altitude are empirically determined, and the topography of the Earth’s surface is taken into account. A two-dimensional approximation of the ionospheric conductor is based on high conductivities along the geomagnetic field; the Pedersen and Hall conductivity distributions are calculated using the empirical models. The values of the potential in the E- and F-layers of the ionosphere are not varied along a magnetic field line in such a model and the electric field strength is only slightly varied because the segments of neighboring magnetic field lines are not strictly parallel. It is shown that the longitudinal and latitudinal components of the ionospheric electric field of the Global Electric Circuit under typical conditions for July, under high solar activity, at the considered point in time, 19:00 UT, do not exceed 9 μV/m, and in the sunlit ionosphere they are less than 2 μV/m. The calculated maximum potential difference in the E- and F-layers is 42 V; the maximum of the potential occurs above African thunderstorms that are near the terminator at that time. A weak local maximum also exists above the thunderstorm area in Central America. The minimum potential occurs near midnight above the Himalayas. The potential has identical values at ionospheric conjugate points. The voltage increases to 55V at 23:00 UT and up to 72V at 06:00 UT, when local midnight comes, respectively, for the African and Central American thunderstorm areas. These voltages are about twice as large at solar minimum. With our more realistic ionospheric model, the electric fields are an order of magnitude smaller than those found in the well-known model of Roble and Hays (1979). Our simulations quantitatively support the traditional presentation of the ionosphere as an ideal conductor in models of the Global Electric Circuit, so that our model can be used to investigate UT variations of the Global Electric Circuit.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:79047
Additional Information:A correction to this article is available online via the related URL.


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