Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Physics


Physical Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Matthew Zettergren

First Committee Member

Dr. John Hughes

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jonathan B. Snively

Third Committee Member

Dr. Anatoly Streltsov


A new 3-D model of the high latitude ionosphere is developed to study the coupling of the ionosphere with the magnetosphere and neutral atmosphere. The model consists of equations describing conservations of mass, momentum and energy for the six ionospheric constituents (O+, NO+, N+2 , O+2 , N+ and e-) and an electrostatic potential equation. This 3-D model is used to examine interrelated processes of ion heating, plasma structuring due to perpendicular transport, ion upflow, molecular ion generation, and neutral wave forcing. It is first validated by comparisons with a 2-D model, which uses similar mathematical and numerical approaches, and is additionally compared against incoherent scatter radar data. Results from a simulation of ionospheric response to a large amplitude acoustic wave also suggests an important role for these waves in generating local dynamo currents and density variations. Results of this model also shed some light on the interplay of perpendicular and parallel transports of plasma in producing structures in density and drift velocity profiles.