Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Ludger Scherliess


Ludger Scherliess


Michael J. Taylor


D. Mark Riffe


Earth’s atmosphere is commonly divided into different layers based on the change of temperature with altitude. The thermosphere is a part of the atmosphere characterized by a dramatic increase in temperature with altitude starting at about 100 km in altitude. Embedded in the thermosphere is an electrically charged layer called the ionosphere that is created by solar radiation. Neutral winds in the thermosphere strongly affect the motion and morphology of these charged particles. These winds can be estimated by space weather models for the upper atmosphere similar to the ones used in daily weather forecasts. These space weather models incorporate satellite observations of the ionosphere with a physical computational model.

The Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements Full Physics (GAIM-FP) model can use monthly averaged satellite measurements to estimate winds in the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. The Thermospheric Wind Assimilation Model (TWAM) combines these wind estimates with the physical equations that describe the motion of the neutral gas to provide estimates of the monthly climatology of thermospheric winds in the two horizontal directions.

As part of this research the monthly climatology of the neutral winds for the entire year of 2009 is determined and compared with estimates obtained from a prominent empirical model as well as ground- and space-based observations.



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