Comparison of ionospheric anomalies over African equatorial/low-latitude region with IRI-2016 model predictions during the maximum phase of solar cycle 24

The capability of IRI-2016 in reproducing the hemispheric asymmetry, the winter and semiannual anomalies has been assessed over the equatorial ionization anomaly (EIA) during quiet periods of years 2013–2014. The EIA reconstructed using Total Electron Content (TEC) derived from Global Navigation Satellite System was compared with that computed using IRI-2016 along longitude 25° − 40oE. These were analyzed along with hemispheric changes in the neutral wind derived from the horizontal wind model and the TIMED GUVI columnar O/N2 data. IRI-2016 clearly captured the hemispheric asymmetry of the anomaly during all seasons albeit with some discrepancies in the magnitude and location of the crests. The winter anomaly in TEC which corresponded with greater O/N2 in the winter hemisphere was also predicted by IRI-2016 during December solstice. The model also captured the semiannual anomaly with stronger crests in the northern hemisphere. Furthermore, it reproduced the variation trend of the asymmetry index (A) in December solstice and equinox during noon. However, in June solstice the model failed to capture the winter anomaly and misrepresented the variation of A. This was linked with its inability to accurately predict the pattern of the neutral wind, the maximum height of the F2 layer and the changes in O/N2 in both hemispheres. The difference between the variations of EUV and F10.7 fluxes was also a potential source of errors in IRI-2016. The results highlight the significance of the inclusion of wind data in IRI-2016 in order to enhance its performance over East Africa.
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Advances in Space Research
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