Statistical study of the night-time F-layer dynamics at the magnetic equator in West Africa during the solar minimum period 1995–1997
- 1Laboratoire de Physique de l'Atmosphère, Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny de Cocody, 22 B.P. 582 Abidjan 22, Côte-d'Ivoire
- 2Sorbonne Paris, UPMC Univ. Paris VI, LPP, 4 place Jussieu, 75252 Paris, France
- 3T-ICT4D, International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Strada Costera 11, 34151 Trieste, Italy
Abstract. In this paper, we report on the night-time equatorial F-layer height behaviour at Korhogo (9.2° N, 5° W; 2.4° S dip lat), Ivory Coast, in the West African sector during the solar minimum period 1995–1997. The data were collected from quarter-hourly ionograms of an Ionospheric Prediction Service (IPS) 42-type vertical sounder. The main focus of this work was to study the seasonal changes in the F-layer height and to clarify the equinox transition process recently evidenced at Korhogo during 1995, the year of declining solar flux activity. The F-layer height was found to vary strongly with time, with up to three main phases. The night-to-night variability of these morphological phases was then analysed. The early post-sunset slow rise, commonly associated with rapid chemical recombination processes in the bottom part of the F layer, remained featureless and was observed regardless of the date. By contrast, the following event, either presented like the post-sunset height peak associated with the evening E × B drift, or was delayed to the midnight sector, thus involving another mechanism. The statistical analysis of the occurrence of these events throughout the solar minimum period 1995–1997 revealed two main F-layer height patterns, each characteristic of a specific season. The one with the post-sunset height peak was associated with the northern winter period, whereas the other, with the midnight height peak, characterized the northern summer period. The transition process from one pattern to the other took place during the equinox periods and was found to last only a few weeks. We discuss these results in the light of earlier works.