Longitudinal differences of ionospheric vertical density distribution and equatorial electrodynamics

Longitudinal differences of ionospheric vertical density distribution and equatorial electrodynamics

E. Yizengaw,1 E. Zesta,2 M. B. Moldwin,3 B. Damtie,4 A. Mebrahtu,5 C. E. Valladares,1 and R. F. Pfaff6

1Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA., 2Air Force Research Laboratory, AFRL/VSBXP, Hanscom AFB, Bedford, Massachusetts, USA. 3Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, Universityof Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. 4Washera GeospaceandRadar Science Laboratory, Bahir DarUniversity, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. 5Department of Physics, Mekelle University, Mekelle, Ethiopia.6NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 117, A07312, doi:10.1029/2011JA017454, 2012

Correspondence to:

E. Yizengaw,
Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.
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Key Points:


Abstract:

Accurate estimation of global vertical distribution of ionospheric and plasmaspheric density as a function of local time, season, and magnetic activity is required to improve the operation of space-based navigation and communication systems. The vertical density distribution, especially at low and equatorial latitudes, is governed by the equatorial electrodynamics that produces a vertical driving force. The vertical structure of the equatorial density distribution can be observed by using tomographic reconstruction techniques on ground-based global positioning system (GPS) total electron content (TEC). Similarly, the vertical drift, which is one of the driving mechanisms that govern equatorial electrodynamics and strongly affect the structure and dynamics of the ionosphere in the low/midlatitude region, can be estimated using ground magnetometer observations. We present tomographically reconstructed density distribution and the corresponding vertical drifts at two different longitudes: the East African and west South American sectors. Chains of GPS stations in the east African and west South American longitudinal sectors, covering the equatorial anomaly region of meridian ~37E and 290°E, respectively, are used to reconstruct the vertical density distribution. Similarly, magnetometer sites of African Meridian B-field Education and Research (AMBER) and INTERMAGNET for the east African sector and South American Meridional B-field Array (SAMBA) and Low Latitude Ionospheric Sensor Network (LISN) are used to estimate the vertical drift velocity at two distinct longitudes. The comparison between the reconstructed and Jicamarca Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) measured density profiles shows excellent agreement, demonstrating the usefulness of tomographic reconstruction technique in providing the vertical density distribution at different longitudes. Similarly, the comparison between magnetometer estimated vertical drift and other independent drift observation, such as from VEFI onboard Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System (C/NOFS) satellite and JULIA radar, is equally promising. The observations at different longitudes suggest that the vertical drift velocities and the vertical density distribution have significant longitudinal differences; especially the equatorial anomaly peaks expand to higher latitudes more in American sector than the African sector, indicating that the vertical drift in the American sector is stronger than the African sector. 

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