Articles | Volume 25, issue 6
29 Jun 2007
 | 29 Jun 2007

The dependence of plasma density in the topside ionosphere on the solar activity level

L. Liu, W. Wan, X. Yue, B. Zhao, B. Ning, and M.-L. Zhang

Abstract. In this paper, the ten-year (1996–2005) total ion density Ni measurements from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) spacecraft in the morning and evening (09:30 and 21:30 LT) sectors have been analyzed to explore the dependence of plasma densities in the topside ionosphere at middle and low latitudes on the solar activity level. Results indicate that there is a strong solar activity dependence of DMSP Ni at 848 km altitude, which has latitudinal and seasonal features. The plasma density in the topside ionosphere has an approximately linear dependence on daily F107 and a strongly nonlinear dependence on SEM/SOHO EUV, such that the change rate of Ni becomes greater with increasing solar EUV. This is quite different from the dependence of Ni near the F-Region peak (NmF2), at which the rate of change of NmF2 decreases with increasing solar EUV. The rate of change of Ni at the DMSP altitude is greatest in the latitude range where Ni is greatest during high solar activity. We suggest that this greater rate of change (or amplification effect) of Ni at the DMSP altitude is mainly a consequence of the solar activity variations of the topside scale height. The changes in the height of the F-Region peak (hmF2) and the density NmF2 play a secondary role.