Articles | Volume 32, issue 11
Ann. Geophys., 32, 1427–1440, 2014
Ann. Geophys., 32, 1427–1440, 2014

Regular paper 21 Nov 2014

Regular paper | 21 Nov 2014

Sporadic E layer at mid-latitudes: average properties and influence of atmospheric tides

A. Pignalberi1, M. Pezzopane2, and E. Zuccheretti2 A. Pignalberi et al.
  • 1Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma "La Sapienza", 00185, Rome, Italy
  • 2Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, 00143, Rome, Italy

Abstract. This paper describes a study of the daily variability shown by the main characteristics of the sporadic E (Es) layer, that is the top frequency (ftEs) and the lowest virtual height (h'Es). The study is based on ionograms recorded by the Advanced Ionospheric Sounder by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (AIS-INGV) ionosondes installed in the ionospheric stations at Rome (41.8° N, 12.5° E) and Gibilmanna (37.9° N, 14.0° E), Italy, during the summer (June, July, August and September) of 2013, a year falling in the ascending phase of solar cycle 24. The ftEs presents a diurnal variation characterized by two maxima, the first around noon is very well defined and the second in the evening/night is much less defined; the amplitude of both maxima decreases from June to September accompanied by a general decrease of the ftEs values which is more pronounced in the daytime than in the nighttime. h'Es also presents a diurnal variation characterized by two maxima but, unlike ftEs, these present the same amplitude which is independent from the considered month. Assuming that both ftEs and h'Es trends are influenced by the atmospheric tides, the height–time–intensity (HTI) technique was applied to deeply investigate how these waves control the Es dynamics. The HTI study, along with a fast Fourier transform analysis, show that a well-defined semidiurnal periodicity characterizes the Es layer dynamics most accurately in June and July, while in August and September the daytime semidiurnal periodicity becomes weaker and the role of the diurnal periodicity is consequently highlighted.