Modeling Ionospheric Outflow with Alex Glocer

Written by Alexa Halford

Ever sat on a beach on a beautiful sunny summer afternoon and found yourself wondering about ionospheric outflow from the ionosphere into the magnetosphere? Always – okay, maybe not but ionospheric outflow can be incredibly important in driving and impacting the type of space weather we have in our magnetosphere. So what is ionospheric outflow? CUSIA Team member Alex Glocer is the person to ask! He gave a magnetosphere seminar on the topic in March of 2021 and you can watch it here. What is it in plain language?


The Earth’s atmosphere has many different layers, and the height of these layers changes as they heat up and cool down. Most of the time it is the Sun that heats up these layers, but sometimes it can be because of heating due to other space weather effects. Sometimes the particles can be heated and excited to high enough energies that start to escape out into space – often into our magnetosphere. Once they are in our magnetosphere they can cause a bunch of fun stuff including waves.

So why is this important to CUSIA? Turns out one of the big asymmetries we have is that the Earth is tilted – and this gives us leafers. Or rather the Earth’s tilt gives us the seasons including the wonderful fall colors and tourist looking for those fall colors during this time of year. This tilt and the seasons mean that one hemisphere often gets more light than the other leading to an asymmetry in heating of  the atmosphere. So right now with fall/winter in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere’s atmosphere is getting heated more and experiencing more ionospheric outflow. CUSIA is working to better model and understand these processes.

Before you leave – Want to learn more about ionospheric outflow or help us understand it better? Check out the CAM article and comment/contribute and become a force multiplier!

Layers of the Earth's Atmosphere
Layers of the Earth’s Atmosphere

Leave a Reply


Join the conversation