Longitudinal variations of the nighttime <i>E</i> layer electron density in the auroral zone


Longitudinal variations of the nighttime E layer electron density (21:00\textendash03:00 magnetic local time) in the auroral zone are investigated, and their sources are discussed in terms of auroral precipitation and solar radiation. The electron density data used in this study are retrieved from Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate radio occultation observations during 2006\textendash2009 under quiet geomagnetic activity (Kp <= 3) and solar minimum conditions. The main conclusions of this study are as follows: (1) the nighttime E layer electron density had pronounced longitudinal variations in the auroral zone. These variations depended on season and had large hemispheric asymmetry for all seasons. In winter, relatively larger electron density was located in 120\textendash310\textdegree magnetic longitude (MLON) in the northern hemisphere and in 170\textendash360\textdegree MLON in the southern hemisphere, and greater maximum density occurred in the northern hemisphere than in the southern one. In summer and equinox, the longitudinal asymmetry was greater in the southern hemisphere. (2) The peaks of the E layer electron density along latitude generally occurred between 65\textdegree and 70\textdegree magnetic latitude in the auroral zone in all seasons for both hemispheres except for the sunlit sector of the southern summer. (3) The greater electron density in local winter in the auroral zone was generally associated with the more intense auroral precipitation intensity at roughly the same longitude, whereas the longitudinal patterns of the electron density were under the combined impact of both auroral precipitation and solar radiation in the local summer and equinoxes.

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
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