Energy transfer in the geospace

A key question in Solar-Terrestrial research is to follow how the energy and plasma from the Sun, through the solar wind, gets into the near-Earth space and drives active processes known as geomagnetic storms and substorms. Following the plasma and energy flow requires simultaneous observations of the Sun, the solar wind, and various parts of the magnetosphere from the outer boundaries, the magnetotail, to the inner magnetosphere and ionosphere. Alternatively, large-scale numerical simulations of the solar wind – magnetosphere – ionosphere coupling offer an opportunity to examine the temporal and spatial dependences of the dynamic processes in various parts of the system. Our group focuses on combined use of observations and simulations:

  • We use the SWMF global geospace simulation to examine in a statistical sense the large-scale response of the magnetosphere to the solar wind driver, especially during large interplanetary coronal mass ejection impacts. The simulation results are compared with satellite measurements of the plasmas and fields in space.
  • We develop quantitative methods to trace the energy flow through the magnetospheric boundary to the magnetotail, the inner magnetosphere, and the ionosphere. The results are compared with empirical proxies derived from ground-based observations. 

The theme links to the following ongoing externally funded projects:

Identification of the magnetospheric boundary (the magnetopause) and the neergy flux through the surface (image courtesy Austin Brenner)