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Modeling the terrestrial coupled thermosphere-ionosphere system

The Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Electrodynamics General Circulation Model (TIMEGCM), developed at NCAR's High Altitude Observatory, is utilizing ESMF's parallel regridding capabilities to enable efficient self-consistent coupling between the Earth?s neutral thermosphere as defined on the geographic coordinate system, and the ionospheric electrodynamics, which use the geomagnetic coordinate system.  The efficient transformation of data between the Earth's geomagnetic grid and the model?s geographic grid in a distributed-memory parallel coding environment significantly improves the model?s scalability to larger numbers of processors, and its ability to perform model simulations at higher grid resolutions.  The image below was produced by TIMEGCM and shows the electric potential plotted on the geographic grid from the south pole to -47.5 degrees latitude, with the ExB ion drifts shown as vector arrows.

Modeling the electric potential using TIMEGCM enables scientists to better understand conditions in the ionosphere and magnetosphere, which are affected by solar storms. The higher grid resolutions that ESMF helps to support enable scientists to model more detailed features, may improve the fidelity of the model compared to observations, and ultimately may help to improve predictions of "space weather." Improving understanding of upper atmospheric processes is important because space weather conditions affect and can disrupt the the power grid, satellite transmissions, radio communications, GPS, and other operations that humans have come to depend on.

Image courtesy of Ben Foster, HAO/NCAR.

Last Update: Feb. 18, 2016, 2:42 p.m. by Sylvia Murphy
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