WWLLN Data Used to Model the Global Ionospheric Electric Field Generated by Thunderstorms

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Valery V. Denisenko
Michael J. Rycroft


Electric currents flowing in the atmospheric global electric circuit (GEC) are closed by ionospheric currents. The physical and mathematical approach to simulate the ionospheric potential which drives these currents has been described in our previous papers. Only the internal electric fields and currents generated by thunderstorms are studied, and without any magnetospheric current sources or generators. The atmospheric conductivity profiles with altitude are empirically determined, and the topography of the Earth’s surface is taken into account. A two-dimensional approximation of the ionospheric conductor is based on the high conductivity along the geomagnetic field; the Pedersen and Hall conductivities are calculated using empirical models. The potentials in the E- and F-layers of the ionosphere are considered to be constant along each magnetic field line.

The main progress in comparison with previous versions of the model is obtained through applying the global distribution of thunderstorms obtained from the ground-based World Wide Lightning Location Network. Under typical conditions for July, under low solar activity in 2008, at 18:00 UTC, the calculated maximum potential difference in the ionosphere is 54 V. This newest version of our model contains the equatorial electrojets. There are day-time electrojets, the strengths of which are up to 65 A, and night-time ones (of up to 40 A), while the total current flowing in the GEC is taken to be equal to 1.43 kA in our model to satisfy the Carnegie curve, i.e. the diurnal variation of the vertical electric field at ground level with UTC. The maximum of the electric potential is shifted from Africa to South-East Asia in the new model. The equatorial electrojets also change their position, direction and intensity.

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How to Cite
Denisenko, V. V. . and Rycroft, M. J. (2022) “ WWLLN Data Used to Model the Global Ionospheric Electric Field Generated by Thunderstorms”, Annals of Geophysics, 65(5), p. PA536. doi: 10.4401/ag-8821.
Physics of the Atmosphere

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