Articles | Volume 24, issue 3
19 May 2006
 | 19 May 2006

A modeling study of ionospheric F2-region storm effects at low geomagnetic latitudes during 17-22 March 1990

A. V. Pavlov, S. Fukao, and S. Kawamura

Abstract. We have presented a comparison between the modeled NmF2 and hmF2, and NmF2 and hmF2, which were observed in the low-latitude ionosphere simultaneously by the Kokubunji, Yamagawa, Okinawa, Manila, Vanimo, and Darwin ionospheric sounders, by the middle and upper atmosphere (MU) radar during 17-22 March 1990, and by the Arecibo radar for the time period of 20-22 March 1990. A comparison between the electron and ion temperatures measured by the MU and Arecibo radars and those produced by the model of the ionosphere and plasmasphere is presented. The empirical zonal electric field, the meridional neutral wind taken from the HWM90 wind model, and the NRLMSISE-00 neutral temperature and densities are corrected so that the model results agree reasonably with the ionospheric sounder observations, and the MU and Arecibo radar data. It is proved that the nighttime weakening of the equatorial zonal electric field (in comparison with that produced by the empirical model of Fejer and Scherliess (1997) or Scherliess and Fejer (1999)), in combination with the corrected wind-induced plasma drift along magnetic field lines, provides the development of the nighttime enhancements in NmF2 observed over Manila during 17-22 March 1990. As a result, the new physical mechanism of the nighttime NmF2 enhancement formation close to the geomagnetic equator includes the nighttime weakening of the equatorial zonal electric field and equatorward nighttime plasma drift along magnetic field lines caused by neutral wind in the both geomagnetic hemispheres. It is found that the latitudinal positions of the crests depend on the E×B drift velocity and on the neutral wind velocity. The relative role of the main mechanisms of the equatorial anomaly suppression observed during geomagnetic storms is studied for the first time in terms of storm-time variations of the model crest-to-trough ratios of the equatorial anomaly. During most of the studied time period, a total contribution from meridional neutral winds and variations in the zonal electric field to the equatorial anomaly changes is larger than that from geomagnetic storm disturbances in the neutral temperature and densities. Vibrationally excited N2 and O2 promote the equatorial anomaly enhancement during the predominant part of the studied time period, however, the role of vibrationally excited N2 and O2 in the development of the equatorial anomaly is not significant. The asymmetries in the neutral wind and densities relative to the geomagnetic equator are responsible for the north-south asymmetry in NmF2 and hmF2, and for the asymmetry between the values of the crest-to-trough ratios of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The model simulations provide evidence in favor of an asymmetry in longitude of the energy input into the auroral region of the Northern Hemisphere on 21 March 1990.