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Solar Flux Dependence of Upper Thermosphere Diurnal Variations: Observed and Modeled
  • Jeffrey P. Thayer,
  • Zachary C. Waldron,
  • Eric K Sutton
Jeffrey P. Thayer
University of Colorado Boulder

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Zachary C. Waldron
University of Colorado Boulder
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Eric K Sutton
University of Colorado at Boulder
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Upper thermosphere mass density over the declining phase of solar cycle 23 are investigated using a day-to-night ratio (DNR) of thermosphere properties as a metric to evaluate how much relative change occurs climatologically between day and night. CHAMP observations from 2002-2009, MSIS 2.0 output, and TIEGCM V2.0 simulations are analyzed to assess their relative response in DNR. The CHAMP observations demonstrate nightside densities decrease more significantly than dayside densities as solar flux decreases. This causes a steadily increasing CHAMP mass density DNR from two to four with decreasing solar flux. The MSIS 2.0 nightside densities decrease more significantly than the dayside, resulting in the same trend as CHAMP. TIEGCM V2.0 displays an opposing trend in density DNR with decreasing solar flux due to dayside densities decreasing more significantly than nightside densities. A sensitivity analysis of the two models reveals the TIEGCM V2.0 to have greater sensitivity in temperature to levels of solar flux, while MSIS 2.0 displayed a greater sensitivity in mean molecular weight. The pressure DNR from both models contributed the most to the density DNR value at 400 km. As solar flux decreases, the two models’ estimate of pressure DNR deviate appreciably and trend in opposite directions. The TIEGCM V2.0 dayside temperatures during middle-to-low solar flux are too cold relative to MSIS 2.0. Increasing the dayside temperature values by about 50 – 100 K and decreasing the nightside temperature slightly would bring the TIEGCM V2.0 into better agreement with MSIS 2.0 and CHAMP observations.