Articles | Volume 33, issue 7
Regular paper
24 Jul 2015
Regular paper |  | 24 Jul 2015

Observations of thermosphere and ionosphere changes due to the dissipative 6.5-day wave in the lower thermosphere

Q. Gan, J. Yue, L. C. Chang, W. B. Wang, S. D. Zhang, and J. Du

Abstract. In the current work, temperature and wind data from the Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) satellite during the years 2002–2007 were used to describe the seasonal variations of the westward propagating 6.5-day planetary wave in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT). Thermospheric composition data from the TIMED satellite and ionospheric total electron content (TEC) from the International Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Service were then employed to carry out two case studies on the effect of this dissipating wave on the thermosphere/ionosphere. In both cases, there were westward anomalies of ~ 30–40 m s−1 in zonal wind in the MLT region that were caused by momentum deposition of the 6.5-day wave, which had peak activity during equinoxes. The westward zonal wind anomalies led to extra poleward meridional flows in both hemispheres. Meanwhile, there were evident overall reductions of thermospheric column density O / N2 ratio and ionospheric TEC with magnitudes of up to 16–24 % during these two strong 6.5-day wave events. Based on the temporal correlation between O / N2 and TEC reductions, as well as the extra poleward meridional circulations associated with the 6.5-day waves, we conclude that the dissipative 6.5-day wave in the lower thermosphere can cause changes in the thermosphere/ionosphere via the mixing effect, similar to the quasi-two-day wave (QTDW) as predicted by Yue and Wang (2014).

Short summary
The 6.5-day traveling planetary wave is able to impact the ionosphere/thermosphere via a dissipation mechanism. Ionospheric TEC and thermosphere O/N2 exhibit an apparent decrease as the result of extra meridional circulation induced by 6.5-day wave dissipation. Our work suggests that the modulation of E-dynamo is not the unique pathway through which planetary waves substantially influence the IT system.