Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling Introductory Laboratory on the Extended Neutral Atmosphere

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Monday, 5 January 2015
Delores J. Knipp, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO; and M. Wiltberger, N. Gross, and S. C. Solomon

We have created an interactive program that allows students to visualize output from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Mass Spectrometer and Incoherent Scatter Radar (MSIS) extended atmosphere model. This empirical climatology model covers the regime from the ground to 1000 km. The interactive program is used in a tutorial/laboratory that introduces students attending a space weather summer school to the neutral atmosphere. Most students attending the school have strong physics backgrounds, but limited knowledge of the atmospheric sciences. In the 3-hour lab devoted to atmospheric layers we explore yearly, seasonal, and daily variations of the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere. The thermosphere is strongly controlled by solar extreme ultraviolet radiation and auroral heating. Widgets within the interactive program allow students to vary these heating sources so that they can explore atmospheric response to solar and geospace storms. We provide an overview of the laboratory activities that allow students to quickly gain an appreciation of the climatology of the entire atmosphere.