VERtical coupling in Earth's Atmosphere at mid and high latitudes (VERA) is a project in response to the ESA ITT "Swarm+ Coupling: High-Low Atmosphere Interactions" with the duration of sixteen months.
The weather of the Earth's upper atmosphere (90-600 km) is affected not only by the energy inputs from the Sun and magnetosphere but also by atmospheric forcing from below. The goal of the VERA project is to advance the understanding of vertical coupling processes, especially those connecting the ionosphere and the neutral atmosphere below. A special attention is paid to sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events, during which the middle atmosphere (10-85 km) is highly disturbed. The response of the ionosphere to SSWs has been previously studied for low latitude regions, where forcing from the magnetosphere is indirect and relatively small. VERA will assess the importance of vertical atmospheric coupling at mid- and high-latitudes using Swarm observations. Swarm's high precision magnetometers and its dedicated constellation for geospace research enable monitoring of inter-hemispheric field-aligned currents (IHFACs). The exploration of the Swarm IHFAC data, and comparisons with state-of-the-art numerical models can reveal how the inter-hemispheric coupling of the ionosphere can be disturbed by atmospheric forcing during SSWs. Also, the pole-to-pole measurements of the electron density by Swarm, along with the ionospheric data from ground-based radars and numerical simulations, will be explored for the possible influence of SSWs on the high-latitude ionosphere.
This project is funded by ESA.