Simulating realistic ionospheric structures using WACCM-X

The NCAR Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model with thermosphere and ionosphere extension (WACCM-X) is an integrated model system that extends from the Earth surface to the upper thermosphere, and has been developed in close collaboration with colleagues at ACOM and CGD to investigate causes of space environment variability on weather and climate scales.

Height of Ionospheric F-region Peak WACCM-X simulations image
Height of ionospheric F-region peak from (left) WACCM-X simulations, (center) COSMIC measurements, and (right) TIEGCM simulations. Both WACCM-X and TIE-GCM simulations use realistic F10.7 and Kp for July 2008. COSMIC measurements are for the same time period.

In the past year, we have further developed the WACCM-X dynamical core to correctly represent the thermosphere, and the thermospheric winds and temperature in the new model are now in good agreement with climatology. These improvements, along with the ionospheric dynamo module and the O+ transport module already included as interactive components of WACCM-X, lead to very realistic simulation of the ionospheric structures. Figure 1 shows the comparison of height of ionospheric F-region peak (hmF2) obtained from WACCM-X simulation (left column), COSMIC measurement (center column) and TIE-GCM simulations (right column) for July 2008. It is evident from the comparison that WACCM-X produces very realistic hmF2 structures, including rather fine structure spatial variations, especially at dawn, dusk and night time.

This development was supported by NSF AGS-1138784, AFOSR FA9550-16-1-0050, and base fund.