Articles | Volume 24, issue 2
23 Mar 2006
 | 23 Mar 2006

Model modifications in Schumann resonance intensity caused by a localized ionosphere disturbance over the earthquake epicenter

A. P. Nickolaenko, M. Hayakawa, M. Sekiguchi, Y. Ando, and K. Ohta

Abstract. This paper is a further extension of our latest observations and modeling by Hayakawa et al. (2005a), in which we discovered the anomalous behavior of Schumann resonance observed in Japan, in possible association with the Chi-chi earthquake in Taiwan. Schumann resonance intensity changes associated with a localized decrease in the lower ionospheric height over the earthquake epicenter are modeled. The knee model of the vertical conductivity profile of the ionosphere describes the regular Earth-ionosphere cavity, and the modified knee model is introduced for the disturbance. The localized ionosphere modification is of a Gaussian radial dependence; it has a 1-Mm radius, and the decrease reaches 20 km in the lower ionosphere height over the epicenter of the earthquake (Taiwan). The diffraction problem in the Earth-ionosphere cavity with a localized disturbance is resolved by using the Stratton-Chu integral equation. This solution is constructed for the case of natural resonance oscillations driven by independent random sources distributed worldwide. The data of the Optical Transient Detector (OTD) are used to introduce the source distribution. A pronounced increase in the intensity of the Schumann resonance is obtained around the fourth mode frequency (up to 20%) when thunderstorms are concentrated in Central America. The worldwide distribution of lightning strokes blurs and slightly reduces the effect (15% increase in intensity) for the observer in Japan and the localized nonuniformity positioned over Taiwan. A clear qualitative similarity is obtained in relation to the experimental data, indicating that records collected in Japan may be explained by the impact of a localized decrease in the lower ionosphere over the epicenter of the earthquake. It is admitted that the assumed conductivity decrease could only be caused by a severe change in the ionization in the middle atmosphere. It is not in the scope of this paper to discuss the possible mechanism, but rather to show that a closer and quantitative agreement with the experiment yields information about the form and size of the ionospheric modification and about the distribution of global thunderstorm activity during measurements.