Lower-ionosphere electron density and effective recombination coefficients from multi-instrument space observations and ground VLF measurements during solar flares

A new model to predict the electron density and effective recombination coefficient of the lower ionosphere under solar flare conditions is presented. This model relies on space-borne solar irradiance measurements in coincidence with ground recorded active transmissions of Very Low Frequency (VLF), (<30 kHz) signals. Use is made of the irradiance measured by broad-band radiometers onboard the satellites: GOES, SDO, and PROBA2. Measurements are made over succeeding and partly overlapping wavelength intervals of the instrument bandpass ranges altogether covering the range 0.1–20 nm. The aim is to determine the effectiveness of the particular instrument bandpass in producing changes in the ionization of the lower ionosphere (D-region) during solar X-ray flares. Ionization efficiency is evaluated using modelled Solar Spectral Irradiance for each flare separately and for each instrument as a function of its bandpass. The new model is based on coupling of the continuity equation with the Appleton relation and uses the concept of time delay – the time lag of the extreme VLF amplitude and phase behind the flare irradiance maximum. The solution of the continuity equation predicts the electron density time - height profile for 55–100 km altitude. An analysis of M to X class flares shows the flare-enhanced electron densities due to a particular ionizing wavelength domain are in good agreement for the case where irradiance is taken over the bandpass of (1) either GOES (0.1–0.8 nm) or SDO/ESP (0.1–7 nm) for up to 90 km (2) either SDO/ESP or PROBA2/LYRA (1–2 +6–20 nm) at heights above 90 km. The results agree within 22% for heights up to 90 km, and differ by at most a factor of 2 for heights above 90 km. Remarkable agreement is shown between measured and evaluated time delay; discrepancies are generally less than 8%. The effective recombination coefficient is deduced from the model itself and is found to be consistent with other independent estimates.


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Authors: Žigman, Vida, Dominique, Marie, Grubor, Davorka, Rodger, Craig J., Clilverd, Mark A. ORCIDORCID record for Mark A. Clilverd

On this site: Mark Clilverd
1 June, 2023
Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics / 247
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