Responses of the Indian Equatorial Ionization Anomaly to two CME-induced geomagnetic storms during the peak phase of solar cycle 24

This work analyzes the geo-effectiveness of Coronal Mass Ejection- (CME-) induced storms by investigating the responses of ionospheric Vertical Total Electron Content (VTEC) and the Equatorial Ionization Anomaly (EIA) over the Indian sector to two storms. One of the storms occurred on February 19, 2014 (SYM-H: −120 nT), while the other occurred on June 23, 2015 (SYM-H: −204 nT). Both storms were driven by full halo CMEs. Global TEC maps were used to characterize VTEC variations during the storms. June 23, 2015 storm was characterized with stronger solar progenitors, right from its origin, although the VTEC response to the storm was not influenced by their strong progenitors. The CMEs that caused the selected storms are large (Halo CMEs). We inferred that irrespective of the strength of solar origin of a storm, the response of ionization distribution over equatorial and low-latitude regions to it depends on the season of storm occurrence, local time of the storm onset, and PPEF orientation. From the VTEC variations for the three Indian stations namely, Trivandrum (geographic latitude: 8.52°N, geographic longitude: 76.94°E, magnetic latitude: 0.37°N), Hyderabad (17.39°N, 78.49°E, 10.15°N) and Delhi (28.70°N, 77.10°E, 22.70°N), we observed that EIA disturbances were more prominent over Hyderabad than over Delhi. The February 19, 2014 storm was characterized by a localized EIA crest at latitude a little above Hyderabad, while in June 23, 2015 storm localized EIA crest was observed directly on Hyderabad. IRI-2016 model generally underestimated VTEC at the three Indian equatorial and low-latitude locations. Solar cycle 24 was characterized with low heliospheric pressure due to its weak polar field strength. The lower pressure allowed CMEs to expand greatly as they transit through space. As they expand, the strengths of the magnetic field inside them decrease, and such lower-strength magnetic fields cause geomagnetic storms that are less geoeffective, even when their solar/interplanetary progenitors are strong and healthy. This associated weak polar field strength of solar cycle 24 caused weak fountain effect with the attendant inability to exhibit storm-time super-fountain effect in the dayside of the equatorial/low-latitude regions.
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Advances in Space Research
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