Observations of the ionospheric response to the 15 December 2006 geomagnetic storm: Long-duration positive storm effect

The long-duration positive ionospheric storm effect that occurred on 15 December 2006 is investigated using a combination of ground-based Global Positioning System (GPS) total electron content (TEC), TOPEX and Jason-1 TEC, and topside ionosphere/plasmasphere TEC, GPS radio occultation, and tiny ionospheric photometer (TIP) observations from the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) satellites. This multi-instrument approach provides a unique view of the ionospheric positive storm effect by revealing the storm time response in different altitude regions. The ground-based GPS TEC, TOPEX/Jason-1 TEC, and topside ionosphere/plasmasphere TEC all reveal significant enhancements at low latitudes to midlatitudes over the Pacific Ocean region during the initial portions of the storm main phase from 0000–0400 universal time (UT) on 15 December. At low latitudes, the topside ionosphere/plasmasphere TEC increase represents greater than 50\% of the TEC enhancement that is observed by ground-based GPS receivers. Moreover, electron density profiles obtained using the technique of GPS radio occultation demonstrate that the F layer peak height increased by greater than 100 km during this time period. The effects of soft particle precipitation are also apparent in the COSMIC observations of topside ionosphere/plasmasphere TEC. The positive storm effects over the Pacific Ocean region remain present in the equatorial ionization anomaly crest regions beyond 1200 UT on 15 December. This long-lasting positive storm effect is most apparent in ground-based GPS TEC and COSMIC TIP observations, while only a small increase in the topside ionosphere/plasmasphere TEC after 0400 UT is observed. This indicates that the long-lasting positive storm effect occurs predominantly at F region altitudes and, furthermore, that refilling of the topside ionosphere and plasmasphere is not the primary mechanism for producing the long-lasting positive storm phase during this event. The observations suggest that the enhanced eastward electric field and equatorward neutral wind are likely to play a significant role in the generation of long-lasting positive storm effects.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
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