Articles | Volume 15, issue 8
31 Aug 1997
31 Aug 1997

A study of atmospheric gravity waves and travelling ionospheric disturbances at equatorial latitudes

R. L. Balthazor and R. J. Moffett

Abstract. A global coupled thermosphere-ionosphere-plasmasphere model is used to simulate a family of large-scale imperfectly ducted atmospheric gravity waves (AGWs) and associated travelling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs) originating at conjugate magnetic latitudes in the north and south auroral zones and subsequently propagating meridionally to equatorial latitudes. A 'fast' dominant mode and two slower modes are identified. We find that, at the magnetic equator, all the clearly identified modes of AGW interfere constructively and pass through to the opposite hemisphere with unchanged velocity. At F-region altitudes the 'fast' AGW has the largest amplitude, and when northward propagating and southward propagating modes interfere at the equator, the TID (as parameterised by the fractional change in the electron density at the F2 peak) increases in magnitude at the equator. The amplitude of the TID at the magnetic equator is increased compared to mid-latitudes in both upper and lower F-regions with a larger increase in the upper F-region. The ionospheric disturbance at the equator persists in the upper F-region for about 1 hour and in the lower F-region for 2.5 hours after the AGWs first interfere, and it is suggested that this is due to enhancements of the TID by slower AGW modes arriving later at the magnetic equator. The complex effects of the interplays of the TIDs generated in the equatorial plasmasphere are analysed by examining neutral and ion winds predicted by the model, and are demonstrated to be consequences of the forcing of the plasmasphere along the magnetic field lines by the neutral air pressure wave.