Cory T. Lane

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Ariel O. Acebal, PhD.


The location of the equatorward boundary of the auroral oval provides an appropriate means to measure the accuracy of auroral models. In this study, the equatorward boundary is represented by the location at which the energy flux data measured by DMSP satellites exceeds 0.4 erg/cm2/s. The MLAT coordinates obtained from more than 4,000 orbits through the polar region of the Northern Hemisphere comprise the data set used to compare to the outputs of five auroral models. These models are: the original Hardy auroral model of 1985 (OH), the OVATION Prime model (OP), the 2008 adaptation to the Hardy model (NH), the Space Weather Modeling Framework Ring-Current model (SWMF), and the Assimilated Mapping of Ionospheric Electrodynamics model (AMIE). In each of the 19 individual Kp-MLT-season categories considered in this study, the model with the highest PE score was determined. The SWMF model received the highest PE score in 4 categories, the NH model in 4 categories, the OH model in 5 categories, and the OP model in 6 categories. The results also showed the SWMF model clearly outperforms the other models during events where the Kp index was greater than 6, but there were no other unequivocal occurrences of a model’s specific success in a particular subcategory. The model that has the highest prediction efficiency score without subdividing the data into categories is the OP model (0.55). The OH model (0.51) has the second best score, and it is followed by the NH model (0.45). These results were corroborated using an energy flux threshold of 0.6 erg/cm2/s. Based upon the specific criteria of this study, the OP model has been determined to most accurately represent the equatorward boundary of the auroral oval.

AFIT Designator