Multi-technique investigations of storm-time ionospheric irregularities over the São Luís equatorial station in Brazil
Abstract. On 11 April 2001, a large magnetic storm occurred with SSC at 13:43 UT, and Dst reached below -200nT after two southward Bz excursions. The Kp index during this storm reached 8 and remained high (>4) for about 21h, and the São Luís magnetometer H component presented simultaneous oscillations and decreased substantially relative to the previous magnetically quiet days. This storm triggered strong ionospheric irregularities, as observed by a recently installed 30MHz coherent scatter radar, a digisonde, and a GPS scintillation receiver, all operating at the São Luís equatorial station (2.33° S, 44° W, dip latitude 1.3° S). The ionospheric conditions and the characteristics of the ionospheric irregularities observed by these instruments are presented and discussed. The VHF radar RTI (Range Time Intensity) echoes and their power spectra and spectral width for the storm night 11-12 April 2001, were used to analyse the nature and dynamics of the plasma irregularities and revealed the coexistence of many structures in the altitudinal range of 400-1200km, some locally generated and others that drifted from other longitudinal sectors. The radar data also revealed that the plumes had periodic eastward and westward zonal velocities after 22:20 UT, when well-developed quiet-time plumes typically drift eastward. Another interesting new observation is that the F-layer remained anomalously high throughout the 11-12 April 2001 storm night (21:00 UT to 09:00 UT next day) (the LT at São Luís is UT -3h), as indicated by the digisonde parameters hmF2 and h'F, which is a condition favourable for spread F generation and maintenance. The AE auroral index showed enhancements (followed by decreases) that are indicative of magnetospheric convection enhancements at about 15:00 UT, 20:00 UT and 22:00 UT on 11 April 2001 and at 00:20 UT (small amplitude) on 12 April 2001, associated with many Bz fluctuations, including clear two southward incursions that gave rise to large and long lasting Kp values and large negative Dst values. This intense auroral activity generated disturbance dynamo and prompt penetration electric fields that were responsible for the maintenance of the F-layer at a high altitude along the night of 11-12 April 2001. The short-lived F-region height rise seen between 16:00 to 18:00 UT on 11 April 2001 is probably due to the prompt penetration eastward electric fields of magnetospheric origin during the first IMF Bz turning to south around 15:00 UT.