The annual and longitudinal variations in plasmaspheric ion density

This paper shows that at solar maximum, equatorial ion densities at L = 2.5 are substantially higher at American longitudes in the December months than in the June months. This arises because the configuration of the geomagnetic field causes a longitude-dependent asymmetry in ionospheric solar illumination at conjugate points that is greatest at American longitudes. For example, at −60°E geographic longitude the L = 2.5 field line has its foot point near 65° geographic latitude in the Southern Hemisphere but near 42° latitude in the Northern Hemisphere. We investigated the consequent effects on equatorial electron and ion densities by comparing ground-based observations of ULF field line eigenoscillations with in situ measurements of electron densities (from the CRRES and IMAGE spacecraft) and He+ densities (IMAGE) for L = 2.5 at solar maximum. Near −60°E longitude the electron and ion mass densities are about 1.5 and 2.2 times larger, respectively, in the December months than in the June months. Over the Asia-Pacific region there is little difference between summer and winter densities. Plasmaspheric empirical density models should be modified accordingly. By comparing the electron, helium, and mass densities, we estimate the annual variation in H+, He+, and O+ concentrations near −3°E longitude and −74°E longitude. In each case the He+ concentration is about 5% by number, but O+ concentrations are substantially higher at −3°E longitude compared with −74° E. We speculate that this may be related to enhanced ionospheric temperatures associated with the South Atlantic anomaly.


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Authors: Menk, F.W., Ables, S.T., Grew, R.S., Clilverd, M.A. ORCIDORCID record for M.A. Clilverd, Sandel, B.R.

On this site: Mark Clilverd
1 March, 2012
Journal of Geophysical Research / 117
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