The thermosphere as a sink of magnetospheric energy: A review of recent observations of dynamics

T. L. Killeen

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The study of the dynamics and thermodynamics of the earth's upper atmosphere has made significant progress over the past few years owing to the availability of new global-scale data sets from the Dynamics Explorer satellites. The thermospheric wind and temperature fields at high latitude have been observed to depend strongly on forcing processes of magnetospheric origin. A key momentum source is due to the drag effect of ions convecting in response to electric fields mapped down on the ionosphere from magnetospheric boundary regions. Likewise, an important heat source derives from Joule or frictional dissipation due to ion/neutral difference velocities governed, in turn, by magnetospheric forcing. In this paper we discuss the progress made over the last 2-3 years initiated by the new satellite measurements and we review published data on ion and neutral motions in the context of the energy and momentum coupling between the magnetosphere and the ionosphere/neutral upper atmosphere. The observations indicate the existence of a "flywheel effect" which implies direct feedback from the neutral thermosphere to the magnetosphere via the release of energy and momentum previously "stored" in the neutral thermosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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