pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 127, Issue 2, pp 255–303

A mathematical model of the middle and high latitude ionosphere

  • R. W. Schunk

DOI: 10.1007/BF00879813

Cite this article as:
Schunk, R.W. PAGEOPH (1988) 127: 255. doi:10.1007/BF00879813


A time-dependent three-dimensional model of the middle and high latitude ionosphere is described. The density distributions of six ion species (NO+, N2+, N2+, O+, N+, He+) and the electron and ion temperatures are obtained from a numerical solution of the appropriate continuity, momentum and energy equations. The equations are solved as a function of height for an inclined magnetic field atE andF region altitudes. The three-dimensional nature of the model is obtained by following flux tubes of plasma as they convect or corotate through a moving neutral atmosphere. The model takes account of field-aligned diffusion, cross-field electrodynamic drifts, thermospheric winds, polar wind escape, energy-dependent chemical reactions, neutral composition changes, ion production due to solar EUV radiation and auroral precipitation, thermal conduction, diffusion-thermal heat flow and local heating and cooling processes. The model also takes account of the offset between the geomagnetic and geographic poles. A complete description of the ionospheric model is given, including a derivation of the relevant transport equations, formulas for all of the chemical and physical processes contained in the model, a discussion of the numerical technique, and a description of the required model inputs. The effects that various chemical and physical processes have on the ionosphere are also illustrated.

Key words


Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. W. Schunk
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Atmospheric and Space SciencesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA