Articles | Volume 8, issue 10
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 3007–3020, 2015
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 3007–3020, 2015

Model description paper 01 Oct 2015

Model description paper | 01 Oct 2015

A 3-D RBF-FD solver for modeling the atmospheric global electric circuit with topography (GEC-RBFFD v1.0)

V. Bayona1, N. Flyer1, G. M. Lucas2, and A. J. G. Baumgaertner2 V. Bayona et al.
  • 1Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
  • 2Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. A numerical model based on radial basis function-generated finite differences (RBF-FD) is developed for simulating the global electric circuit (GEC) within the Earth's atmosphere, represented by a 3-D variable coefficient linear elliptic partial differential equation (PDE) in a spherically shaped volume with the lower boundary being the Earth's topography and the upper boundary a sphere at 60 km. To our knowledge, this is (1) the first numerical model of the GEC to combine the Earth's topography with directly approximating the differential operators in 3-D space and, related to this, (2) the first RBF-FD method to use irregular 3-D stencils for discretization to handle the topography. It benefits from the mesh-free nature of RBF-FD, which is especially suitable for modeling high-dimensional problems with irregular boundaries. The RBF-FD elliptic solver proposed here makes no limiting assumptions on the spatial variability of the coefficients in the PDE (i.e., the conductivity profile), the right hand side forcing term of the PDE (i.e., distribution of current sources) or the geometry of the lower boundary.