Interhemispheric propagation and interactions of auroral traveling ionospheric disturbances near the equator

Interhemispheric propagation and interactions of auroral traveling ionospheric disturbances near the equator

Rezy Pradipta1, Cesar E. Valladares1, Brett A. Carter1,2, and Patricia H. Doherty1

1Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA, 2SPACE Research Centre, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics RESEARCH ARTICLE 10.1002/2015JA022043

Correspondence to:

R. Pradipta, 
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Key Points:

• We track the equatorward propagation and interference of auroral LSTIDs from both hemispheres 
• Resultant amplitude of the LSTID interference was found to be greater than the sum of its parts 
• This intensification might be due to the configuration of plasma around the equatorial ionosphere

Abstract:

We present the results of our GPS total electron content and ionosonde observations of large-scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (LSTIDs) during the 26 September 2011 geomagnetic storm. We analyzed the propagation characteristics of these LSTIDs from the auroral zones all the way to the equatorial region and studied how the auroral LSTIDs from opposite hemispheres interact/interfere near the geomagnetic equator. We found an overall propagation speed of ∼700 m/s for these LSTIDs and that the resultant amplitude of the LSTID interference pattern actually far exceeded the sum of individual amplitudes of the incoming LSTIDs from the immediate vicinity of the interference zone. We suspect that this peculiar intensification of auroral LSTIDs around the geomagnetic equator is facilitated by the significantly higher ceiling/canopy of the ionospheric plasma layer there. Normally, acoustic-gravity waves (AGWs) that leak upward (and thus increase in amplitude) would find a negligible level of plasma density at the topside ionosphere. However, the tip of the equatorial fountain at the geomagnetic equator constitutes a significant amount of plasma at a topside-equivalent altitude. The combination of increased AGW amplitudes and a higher plasma density at such altitude would therefore result in higher-amplitude LSTIDs in this particular region, as demonstrated in our observations and analysis.

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