Articles | Volume 24, issue 5
03 Jul 2006
 | 03 Jul 2006

Equatorial plasma bubbles in the ionosphere over Eritrea: occurrence and drift speed

R. H. Wiens, B. M. Ledvina, P. M. Kintner, M. Afewerki, and Z. Mulugheta

Abstract. An all-sky imager was installed in Asmara, Eritrea (15.4° N, 38.9° E, 7° N dip) and used to monitor the OI 630-nm nightglow. Nine months of data were studied between September 2001 and May 2002, a time including the recent maximum in the solar activity cycle. Equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) were recorded on 63% of nights with adequate viewing conditions. The station location within view of the equatorial ionization anomaly and with a magnetic declination near zero makes it an excellent test case for comparison with satellite studies of the seasonal variation of EPBs with longitude. The imager was accompanied by two Cornell GPS scintillation monitors, and the amplitude scintillation data are compared to the all-sky data. GPS scintillations indicate the beginning of EPBs, but die out sooner in the post-midnight period than the larger scale EPBs. Both phenomena exhibit clear occurrence maxima around the equinoxes. Ionospheric zonal drift speeds have been deduced from EPB and GPS scintillation pattern movement. Average near-midnight EPB drift speeds are between 100 and 120 m/s most months, with the GPS scintillation speeds being about the same. A winter drift speed maximum is evident in both EPB and GPS scintillation monthly means.