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Analyzing the hemispheric asymmetry in the thermospheric density response to geomagnetic storms

AuthorErcha, A.; Ridley, Aaron; Zhang, Donghe; Xiao, Zuo;
KeywordsGeomagnetic storms; hemispheric asymmetry; thermospheric density

The thermospheric densities derived by CHAMP/STAR accelerometer within the time period from 01 May 2001 to 31 December 2007 are utilized to investigate the hemispheric asymmetry in response to strong storm driving conditions. The geomagnetic storms of 03\textendash07 April 2004 are first studied since the storms occurred close to the vernal equinox, allowing the seasonal asymmetry to be eliminated to the greatest extent. The averaged density enhancements in the southern polar region were much larger than that in the northern polar region. The comparisons of density versus Dst and Apindex indicate a strong linear dependence with the slopes of the fitted lines in the southern hemisphere being 50\% greater than that in the northern hemisphere. This effect can possibly be attributed to the non-symmetric geomagnetic field. 102 storm events are used to conduct a statistical analysis. For each storm, a linear fit is made between the averaged mass density and theDst and Ap indices independently in each hemisphere. The seasonal variation of the intercepts and the slopes of the fitted lines are further explored. The baseline is strongly dependent on season, with the hemisphere receiving the larger amount of sunlight having larger density. The slopes showed considerable hemispheric differences around the vernal equinox yet no statistical differences around other seasons. It is speculated that competing mechanisms cancel each other during the solstices, while during the equinoxes, the lower magnetic field in the southern hemisphere may allow stronger ion flows, thereby causing more Joule heating. It is uncertain why the vernal equinox would be favored in this explanation though.

Year of Publication2012
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Number of Pages
Date Published08/2012