Open Access

Joule heating due to vertical ion currents in the lower thermosphere over the dip equator

  • R. Raghavarao1,
  • R. Sridharan1 and
  • R. Suhasini1
Earth, Planets and Space201450:BF03352176

DOI: 10.1186/BF03352176

Received: 9 September 1997

Accepted: 22 July 1998

Published: 6 June 2014


The theory of equatorial electrojet predicts the presence of vertical ion currents (Pedersen currents) as a part of the electrojet current system. The vertical ion current density profile over the dip equator, that forms a part of the meridional current system is derived from an electrojet model. The joule heating due to these currents flowing upward during daytime for a local time for 1100 hrs has been estimated. The primary east-west current density of the model is kept at the same value as that measured by means of rocket-borne magnetometer on one occasion. The electrical power dissipated as heat in the narrow belt in the height region of 100–180 km is estimated and found to be significant. The height of maximum power dissipation coincides with the altitude of maximum ion velocity i.e. 122 km. By solving the heat conduction equation we obtain a maximum temperature increase of 8°K around 135 km. The importance of this localized heating in the lower thermosphere around ±2° of the dip equator is discussed.