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Analyzing electric field morphology through data-model comparisons of the GEM IM/S assessment challenge events

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • M. W. Liemohn
  • A. J. Ridley
  • J. U. Kozyra
  • D. L. Gallagher
  • M. F. Thomsen
  • M. G. Henderson
  • Michael H. Denton
  • P.C. Brandt
  • J. Goldstein
Journal publication date2006
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Number of pages25
Original languageEnglish


The storm time inner magnetospheric electric field morphology and dynamics are assessed by comparing numerical modeling results of the plasmasphere and ring current with many in situ and remote sensing data sets. Two magnetic storms are analyzed, 22 April 2001 and 21–23 October 2001, which are the events selected for the Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) Inner Magnetosphere/Storms (IM/S) Assessment Challenge (IMSAC). The IMSAC seeks to quantify the accuracy of inner magnetospheric models as well as synthesize our understanding of this region. For each storm, the ring current-atmosphere interaction model (RAM) and the dynamic global core plasma model (DGCPM) were run together with various settings for the large-scale convection electric field and the nightside ionospheric conductance, while keeping all other simulation settings the same. DGCPM plasmaspheric parameters were compared with IMAGE-EUV plasmapause extractions and LANL-MPA plume locations and velocities. RAM parameters were compared with Dst*, LANL-MPA fluxes and moments, IMAGE-MENA images, and IMAGE-HENA images. Both qualitative and quantitative comparisons were made to determine the electric field morphology that allows the model results to best fit the plasma data at various times during these events. The simulations with self-consistent electric fields were, in general, better than those with prescribed field choices. This indicates that the time-dependent modulation of the inner magnetospheric electric fields by the nightside ionosphere is quite significant for accurate determination of these fields (and their effects). It was determined that a shielded Volland-Stern field description driven by the 3-hour Kp index yields accurate results much of the time but can be quite inconsistent. The modified McIlwain field description clearly lagged in overall accuracy compared to the other fields, but matched some data sets (like Dst*) quite well. The rankings between the simulations varied depending on the storm and the individual data sets, indicating that each field description did well for some place, time, and energy range during the events, as well as doing less well in other places, times, and energies. Several unresolved issues regarding the storm time inner magnetospheric electric field are discussed.

Bibliographic note

Copyright (2006) American Geophysical Union.