Electrodynamics of the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere-atmosphere coupled system

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


This project will study the formation and variability of the terrestrial auroras to understand the structure and dynamics of the magnetosphere, and plasma acceleration processes. A focus of the project will be the electrical currents systems that effect magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling, and determining their role in the larger solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere-atmosphere system. Initially the study will focus on the magnetosphere under northwards interplanetary magnetic field orientation, when the structure of the magnetosphere and the appearance of auroral emissions at very high latitudes is poorly understood. Data sets that will be employed include the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE), space-borne auroral cameras and plasma drift instruments, monitors in the interplanetary medium, and other space and ground based observatories.


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Bower G (2022) Transpolar Arcs: Seasonal Dependence Identified by an Automated Detection Algorithm in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

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Bower G (2022) Occurrence Statistics of Horse Collar Aurora in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/R504890/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021
2271594 Studentship ST/R504890/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2023 Gemma Bower
ST/S505511/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2022
2271594 Studentship ST/S505511/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2023 Gemma Bower
ST/T506242/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023
2271594 Studentship ST/T506242/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2023 Gemma Bower
Description Coupling between the solar wind- magnetosphere-ionosphere has been explored during northward interplanetary magnetic field conditions. An automated detection algorithm has been developed to identify transpolar arcs (TPAs) in the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imager (DMSP-SSUSI) data. A large statistical study has been carried out on the TPA list identified by the algorithm. This statistical study reinforced that TPA occurrence has a seasonal dependence with more TPAs being detected in the winter hemisphere. It also highlighted a clear dusk-dawn asymmetry in the occurrence of the TPAs with more TPAs being detected at dawn than at dusk. A statistical study has also been performed on horse collar aurora (HCA) event identified in the same time period in the DMSP-SSUSI data. This study shows that HCA occur frequently and could be linked to dual lobe reconnection as predicted by previous studies. It was also found that the dawn arc of the HCA was brighter than the dusk.
Both studies have been presented at national conferences such as Autumn MIST (Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Solar-Terrestrial) and NAM (National Astronomy Meeting) as well as being published in the Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics.
Exploitation Route Within academia further work could be done narrowing down the possible reasons for the seasonal dependence and dusk-dawn asymmetry of the TPAs.
Sectors Other