Articles | Volume 30, issue 8
24 Aug 2012
 | 24 Aug 2012

Features of highly structured equatorial plasma irregularities deduced from CHAMP observations

C. Xiong, H. Lühr, S. Y. Ma, C. Stolle, and B. G. Fejer

Abstract. In this study five years of CHAMP (Challenging Mini-satellite Payload) fluxgate magnetometer (FGM) data is used to investigate the characteristics of Equatorial Plasma Bubbles (EPBs). We filtered the FGM data by using band-passes with four different cut-off periods to get the EPBs with different maximum spatial scale sizes in the meridional plane ranging from 76–608 km. Associated with the EPB observations at about 400 km, the typical altitude of CHAMP during the year 2000–2005, we also investigate the post-sunset equatorial vertical plasma drift data from ROCSAT-1 (Republic of China Satellite 1). Since the height of the F-layer is highly correlated with the vertical plasma drift and solar flux, we sorted the ROCSAT-1 data into different groups by F10.7. From the integrated vertical drift we have estimated the post-sunset uplift of the ionosphere. By comparing the properties of EPB occurrence for different scale sizes with the global distribution of plasma vertical uplift, we have found that EPBs reaching higher altitudes are more structured than those which are sampled by CHAMP near the top side of the depleted fluxtube. Such a result is in accord with 3-D model simulations (Aveiro and Hysell, 2010). Small-scale EPB structures are observed by CHAMP when the irregularities reach apex heights of 800 km and more. Such events are encountered primarily in the Brazilian sector during the months around November, when the post-sunset vertical plasma drift is high.