C/NOFS satellite observations of equatorial ionospheric plasma structures supported by multiple ground-based diagnostics in October 2008

C/NOFS satellite observations of equatorial ionospheric plasma structures supported by multiple ground-based diagnostics in October 2008

M. Nishioka,1,2 Su. Basu,1 S. Basu,1 C. E. Valladares,1 R. E. Sheehan,1 P. A. Roddy,3 and K. M. Groves3

1Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA. 2Now at National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Tokyo, Japan. 3Air Force Research Laboratory, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, USA.

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 116, A10323, doi:10.1029/2011JA016446, 2011

Correspondence to:

Cesar Valladares
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Key Points:


In early October 2008, the C/NOFS satellite orbited near the magnetic equator at its perigee altitude of ∼400 km at dusk in the Peruvian sector. This provided an ideal opportunity for a comparison, under the current very low solar flux condition, of equatorial ionospheric disturbances observed with the Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System (C/NOFS) in situ measurements and ground‐based observations available near Jicamarca Observatory. The primary objective was the comparison of plasma density disturbances measured by a Planar Langmuir Probe (PLP) instrument on the C/NOFS satellite with VHF scintillation activity at Ancon near Jicamarca for this period. Here we discuss in detail two extreme cases: one in which severe in situ disturbances were accompanied by mild scintillation on a particular day, namely, 10 October while there was little in situ disturbance with strong scintillation on 5 October.
This apparent contradiction was diagnosed further by a latitudinal ground‐based GPS network at Peruvian longitudes, a Digisonde, and the incoherent scatter radar (ISR) at Jicamarca. The crucial distinction was provided by the behavior of the equatorial ionization anomaly (EIA). The EIA was well‐developed on the day having severe in situ disturbances (10 Oct). This led to lower equatorial plasma density and total electron content (TEC) at the equator and consequently reduced the scintillations detected at Ancon. On the other hand, on the day with severe scintillations (5 Oct), the EIA was not so well developed as on 10 October, leading to relatively higher equatorial plasma density and TEC. Consequently the severe scintillations at Ancon were likely caused by ionospheric structure located below the altitude of C/NOFS. The NRL SAMI2 model was utilized to gain a greater understanding of the role of neutral winds and electric fields in reproducing the TEC as a function of latitude for both classes of irregularities.
Spectral studies with high resolution in situ PLP data were also performed. The power law spectra within the plasma bubbles showed two slopes: the low frequency slope being ∼−5/3 and the high frequency ∼−5 with a break around l = 70 m. This particular type of two‐slope spectra may be related to the extremely low solar activity and its impact on ion composition and temperature.

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