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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 20, issue 4
Ann. Geophys., 20, 461–470, 2002
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-20-461-2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 20, 461–470, 2002
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-20-461-2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  30 Apr 2002

30 Apr 2002

He+ dominance in the plasmasphere during geomagnetically disturbed periods: 1. Observational results

M. H. Denton1, G. J. Bailey2, C. R. Wilford2, A. S. Rodger3, and S. Venkatraman4 M. H. Denton et al.
  • 1Radio and Space Physics Group, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK (formerly of Space and Atmosphere Research Group, University of Sheffield, UK)
  • 2Space and Atmosphere Research Group, University of Sheffield, UK
  • 3Physical Sciences Division, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  • 4Center for Space Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, USA
  • Correspondence to: M. H. Denton
  • (mick.denton@aber.ac.uk)

Abstract. Observations made by the DMSP F10 satellite during the recovery phase from geomagnetic disturbances in June 1991 show regions of He+ dominance around 830 km altitude at 09:00 MLT. These regions are co-located with a trough in ionisation observed around 55° in the winter hemisphere. Plasma temperature and concentration observations made during the severe geomagnetic storm of 24 March 1991 are used as a case study to determine the effects of geomagnetic disturbances along the orbit of the F10 satellite. Previous explanations for He+ dominance in this trough region relate to the part of the respective flux tubes that is in darkness. Such conditions are not relevant for this study, since the whole of the respective flux tubes are sunlit. A new mechanism is proposed to explain the He+ dominance in the trough region. This mechanism is based on plasma transport and chemical reaction effects in the F-region and topside ionosphere, and on the time scales for such chemical reactions. Flux tubes previously depleted by geomagnetic storm effects refill during the recovery phase from the ionosphere as a result of pressure differences along the flux tubes. Following a geomagnetic disturbance, the He+ ion recovers quickly via the rapid photoionisation of neutral helium, in the F-region and the topside. The recovery of the O+ and H+ ions is less rapid. This is proposed as a result of the respective charge exchange reactions with neutral atomic hydrogen and oxygen. Preliminary model calculations support the proposed mechanism.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (storms and sub-storms, plasmasphere)

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