Importance of capturing heliospheric variability for studies of thermospheric vertical winds


Using the Global Ionosphere Thermosphere Model with observed real-time heliospheric input data, the magnitude and variability of thermospheric neutral vertical winds are investigated. In order to determine the role of variability in the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) and solar wind density on the neutral wind variability, the heliospheric input data are smoothed. The effects of smoothing the IMF and solar wind and density on the vertical winds are simulated for the cases of no smoothing, 5-minute, and 12-minute smoothing. Various vertical wind acceleration terms, such as the nonhydrostatic acceleration, are quantified. Polar stereographic projections of the variabilities of vertical wind and ion flows are compared to highlight existing correlations. Overall, the smoother, that is, the less variable the IMF and solar wind parameters are, the weaker are the magnitude and the variability of the thermospheric vertical winds. Weaker IMF variability leads to smaller variability in ion flows, which in turn negatively impacts the variability and the magnitude of Joule heating. Small-scale temporal variation of the vertical wind acceleration, and thus the variability of the vertical wind, is dominated by the nonhydrostatic term that is controlled primarily by the temporal variation of the Joule heating, which in turn is related to ion flow variations that are shaped by the IMF in the high-latitude thermosphere. Wavelet analysis of the vertical wind data shows that gravity waves of \~5 and \~10-minute periods are more prominent when the model is run with high-resolution real-time IMF and solar wind data. Better capturing of the temporal variation of the IMF and solar wind parameters is crucial for modeling the variability and magnitude of thermospheric vertical winds.

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Journal of Geophysical Research
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