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Team title: Auroral Precipitation and High Latitude Electrodynamics (AuroraPHILE) 

Team ID: G1-03

Team Lead:

Bob Robinson (Catholic University of America, USA) 

Team Co-Lead:

Katherine Garcia-Sage (NASA/CCMC, USA), 


Ryan McGranaghan (Atmosphere and Space Technology Research Associates, USA),

Dibyendu Sur (Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics, University of Calcutta, India),

Yongliang Zhang (JHU/APL, USA),

Lauri Holappa (University of Oulu, Finland),

James Weygand (UCLA, Dept. Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, USA),

Sarah Vines (JHU/APL, USA),

Daniel Martini (Norwegian Centre for Space Weather, Norway),

Liang Wang (Princeton University, USA),

Jesper Gjerloev (JHU/APL, USA),

Yihua Zheng (CCMC, NASA GSFC, USA),

Keywords (impact): Electric power systems, GICs, Satellite/debris drag, Navigation and/or Communications

Keywords (activity type): Understanding, Modeling, Forecasting, Data Utilization, Assessment 


A longstanding challenge in space weather has been the ability to accurately specify ionospheric properties at high latitudes associated with auroral precipitation. These properties include energy input from precipitating particles and Joule heating, electric fields, conductivities, and currents resulting from magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling processes, the location and dynamics of auroral boundaries, and ion outflow. Accurate specification of auroral parameters is needed for a variety of space weather applications. Auroral parameters are needed as input to space weather models, either as initial or boundary conditions, or assimilated during model execution. They are also used to test and validate space weather models, as the ability to simulate auroral conditions is a key indicator of how realistically magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling processes are being replicated. Additionally, information about the auroral ionosphere is use d by those for whom those properties represent the final product, such as the intensity and location of energetic particle fluxes, visible aurora, and ionospheric currents. Finally, an accurate specification of auroral properties is important for assessing surface charging effects on space assets traversing through the auroral region. New modeling capabilities and data sets are now available to greatly improve the accuracy by which auroral parameters can be specified globally and continuously. The Auroral Precipitation and High Latitude Electrodynamics (AuroraPHILE) working team grew out of the International CCMC-Living With a Star Working Meeting in April, 2017. Preliminary working group results were reported by Robinson et al. (Space Weather, 17, 212– 215.


The goal of the AuroraPHILE team is to optimize specification of auroral energy input and electrodynamic properties at high latitudes. The AuroraPHILE team will consider how new data, models, and knowledge can be combined to produce the most accurate specification of auroral parameters. Data sources include global specification of field-aligned currents from AMPERE, energy flux and conductance estimates from ground-based and space-based imagers, magnetic measurements from ground-based magnetometers, and direct observations of electric fields, conductivities and currents by ground-based radars and satellite-borne detectors. Models include those based on empirical, analytical, and data assimilative techniques. The AuroraPHILE team will identify events for constructing ground-truth data sets by which the accuracy of auroral specification can be assessed and tracked using quantitative metrics. Emphasis will be placed on global specification that can be routinely applied to space weather research activities and eventually transitioned to improve operational space weather specification and forecast capabilities.

Action topics:

  • Advance modeling capability of coupled geospace system,
  • Understand and quantify properties of the high latitude region, including particle precipitation, conductivities, electric fields, neutral winds, currents, electromagnetic energy input, and Joule heating,
  • Assessment and improvement of capabilities to model auroral boundaries

Link to team external website: