In-Situ CHAMP Observation of Ionosphere-Thermosphere Coupling
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The coupling between the ionised plasma and the neutral thermospheric particles plays an important role for the dynamics of the upper atmosphere. Significant progress in understanding the related processes has been achieved thanks to the availability of continuous accurate measurements of thermospheric parameters like mass density and wind by high resolution accelerometers on board the satellites CHAMP and GRACE. Here we present some examples of ionosphere-thermosphere coupling where CHAMP observations contributed considerably to their interpretation. We start with the derived properties of the thermosphere at altitudes around 400 km. A new aspect is the significant control of the geomagnetic field geometry on thermospheric features. Phenomena discussed in some depths are the equatorial mass density anomaly, the cusp-related mass density enhancement and the thermospheric response to magnetospheric substorms. Here we consider both the effect on the density and on the wind. A long predicted process is the wind-driven ionospheric F region dynamo. The high-resolution magnetic field measurements of CHAMP enabled for the first time a systematic study of that phenomenon considering longitudinal, local time, seasonal and solar flux dependences. Some open issues that require further investigations are mentioned at the end.
KeywordsIonosphere-thermosphere coupling Low-latitude thermosphere High-latitude thermosphere Substorm effects Ionospheric F region dynamo
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