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Nighttime Enhancements in the Midlatitude Ionosphere and Their Relation to the Plasmasphere

AuthorLi, Quanhan; Hao, Yongqiang; Zhang, Donghe; Xiao, Zuo;

In situ electron density measurements by the CHAllenging Minisatellite Payload and the Defense Meteorological Satellites Program F17 satellites show that the midlatitude ionization at altitudes of \~350 and 850\ km is enhanced in the late evening. The enhancements increase to maximum around midnight and are clearly observed till early morning as the equatorial ionization decays to minimal level. They appear in the winter hemisphere during June and December solstices and in both hemispheres during equinox. The enhancements are well confined between \textpm30\textdegree and \textpm50\textdegree magnetic latitude, with the magnetic flux tubes of L = 1.3 - 2.4 connecting to the plasmasphere. Furthermore, coincident longitudinal variations exist in both the ionospheric enhancements and the plasmaspheric total electron content, especially during the solstice months. The coincidence may suggest essential plasma transport between the ionosphere and the plasmasphere. These facts support the idea that the plasmasphere provides extra plasma to the midlatitude ionosphere through downward plasma influx along the magnetic field lines to form the nighttime ionization enhancements when the sunlight is absent.

Year of Publication2018
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Number of Pages7686-7696
Date Published08/2018