Articles | Volume 28, issue 7
15 Jul 2010
 | 15 Jul 2010

Ionospheric storms at geophysically-equivalent sites – Part 2: Local time storm patterns for sub-auroral ionospheres

M. Mendillo and C. Narvaez

Abstract. The response of the mid-latitude ionosphere to geomagnetic storms depends upon several pre-storm conditions, the dominant ones being season and local time of the storm commencement (SC). The difference between a site's geographic and geomagnetic latitudes is also of major importance since it governs the blend of processes linked to solar production and magnetospheric input, respectively. Case studies of specific storms using ionospheric data from both hemispheres are inherently dominated by seasonal effects and the various local times versus longitude of the SCs. To explore inter-hemispheric consistency of ionospheric storms, we identify "geophysically-equivalent-sites" as locations where the geographic and geomagnetic latitudes have the same relationship to each other in both hemispheres. At the longitudes of the dipole tilt, the differences between geographic and geomagnetic latitudes are at their extremes, and thus these are optimal locations to see if pre-conditioning and/or storm-time input are the same or differ between the hemispheres.

In this study, we use ionosonde values of the F2-layer maximum electron density (NmF2) to study geophysical equivalency at Wallops Island (VA) and Hobart (Tasmania), using statistical summaries of 206 events during solar cycle #20. We form average patterns of ΔNmF2 (%) versus local time over 7-day storm periods that are constructed in ways that enhance the portrayal of the average characteristic features of the positive and negative phases of ionospheric storms. The results show a consistency between four local time characteristic patterns of storm-induced perturbations, and thus for the average magnitudes and time scales of the processes that cause them in each hemisphere. Subtle differences linked to small departures from pure geophysical equivalency point to a possible presence of hemispheric asymmetries governed by the non-mirror-image of geomagnetic morphology in each hemisphere.