A new ionospheric electron precipitation module coupled with RAM-SCB within the geospace general circulation model
Electron precipitation down to the atmosphere due to wave-particle scattering in the magnetosphere contributes significantly to the auroral ionospheric conductivity. In order to obtain the auroral conductivity in global MHD models that are incapable of capturing kinetic physics in the magnetosphere, MHD parameters are often used to estimate electron precipitation flux for the conductivity calculation. Such an MHD approach, however, lacks self-consistency in representing the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling processes. In this study we improve the coupling processes in global models with a more physical method. We calculate the physics-based electron precipitation from the ring current and map it to the ionospheric altitude for solving the ionospheric electrodynamics. In particular, we use the BATS-R-US (Block Adaptive Tree Scheme-Roe type-Upstream) MHD model coupled with the kinetic ring current model RAM-SCB (Ring current-Atmosphere interaction Model with Self-Consistent Magnetic field (B)) that solves pitch angle-dependent electron distribution functions, to study the global circulation dynamics during the 25–26 January 2013 storm event. Since the electron precipitation loss is mostly governed by wave-particle resonant scattering in the magnetosphere, we further investigate two loss methods of specifying electron precipitation loss associated with wave-particle interactions: (1) using pitch angle diffusion coefficients Dαα(E,α) determined from the quasi-linear theory, with wave spectral and plasma density obtained from statistical observations (named as “diffusion coefficient method”) and (2) using electron lifetimes τ(E) independent on pitch angles inferred from the above diffusion coefficients (named as “lifetime method”). We found that both loss methods demonstrate similar temporal evolution of the trapped ring current electrons, indicating that the impact of using different kinds of loss rates is small on the trapped electron population. However, for the precipitated electrons, the lifetime method hardly captures any precipitation in the large L shell (i.e., 4 < L < 6.5) region, while the diffusion coefficient method produces much better agreement with NOAA/POES measurements, including the spatial distribution and temporal evolution of electron precipitation in the region from the premidnight through the dawn to the dayside. Further comparisons of the precipitation energy flux to DMSP observations indicates that the new physics-based precipitation approach using diffusion coefficients for the ring current electron loss can explain the diffuse electron precipitation in the dawn sector, such as the enhanced precipitation flux at auroral latitudes and flux drop near the subauroral latitudes, but the traditional MHD approach largely overestimates the precipitation flux at lower latitudes.
Authors: Yu, Yiquin, Jordanova, Vania K., Ridley, Aaron J., Albert, Jay M., Horne, Richard B. ORCID record for Richard B. Horne, Jeffery, Christopher A.