Interaction between thermospheric winds and the aurora

Neutral winds in the upper-atmosphere (thermosphere above 100 km altitude) are driven by solar pressure and ion drag as well as the Coriolis force. However, it has been discovered that the electric field associated with auroral arcs can have a dramatic effect on meso-scale winds. This project is to quantitatively estimate the forcing required and associated energy dissipated (Joule heating) to change the wind direction near auroral arcs. Wind data will come from ground-based optical Fabry-Perot interferometer instruments in Antarctica (McMurdo and South Pole) as well as the Arctic (Alaska and Svalbard). Electric field data will come from the network of SuperDARN radars, which South Africa participates in.