A new source of the midlatitude ionospheric peak density structure revealed by a new Ionosphere-Plasmasphere model

A new source of the midlatitude ionospheric peak density structure revealed by a new Ionosphere-Plasmasphere model

Naomi Maruyama1,2, Yang-Yi Sun1,2,3, Phillip G. Richards4 , Jacques Middlecoff5,6, Tzu-Wei Fang1,2, Timothy J. Fuller-Rowell1,2, Rashid A. Akmaev2 , Jaun-Yeng Liu3 , and Cesar E. Valladares7

1Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 2 Space Weather Prediction Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 3 Institute of Space Science, National Central University, Taoyuan, Taiwan, 4 Department of Physics and Astronomy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA, 5 Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA, 6 Global Systems Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado, USA, 7 Institute for Scientific Research, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA

Correspondence to:

N. Maruyama,
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Key Points:

• New ionosphere model reveals source of midlatitude peak density structure 
• Model three-peak structure agrees well with global satellite data 
• Role of the prevailing neutral meridional wind flow


The newly developed Ionosphere-Plasmasphere (IP) model has revealed neutral winds as a primary source of the “third-peak” density structure in the daytime global ionosphere that has been observed by the low-latitude ionospheric sensor network GPS total electron content measurements over South America. This third peak is located near -30° magnetic latitude and is clearly separate from the conventional twin equatorial ionization anomaly peaks. The IP model reproduces the global electron density structure as observed by the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC mission. The model reveals that the third peak is mainly created by the prevailing neutral meridional wind, which flows from the summer hemisphere to the winter hemisphere lifting the plasma along magnetic field lines to higher altitudes where recombination is slower. The same prevailing wind that increases the midlatitude density decreases the low-latitude density in the summer hemisphere by counteracting the equatorial fountain flow. The longitudinal variation of the three peak structure is explained by the displacement between the geographic and geomagnetic equators.

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