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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-2019-50
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-2019-50
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: regular paper 15 Apr 2019

Submitted as: regular paper | 15 Apr 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Annales Geophysicae (ANGEO).

Traits of sub-kilometer F-region irregularities as seen with the Swarm satellites

Sharon Aol1, Stephan Buchert2, and Edward Jurua1 Sharon Aol et al.
  • 1Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda
  • 2Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract. During the night, in the F-region, equatorial ionospheric irregularities manifest as plasma depletions observed by satellites and may cause radio signals to fluctuate. In this study, the distribution characteristics of ionospheric F-region irregularities in the low latitudes were investigated using 16 Hz electron density observations made by the faceplate on board Swarm satellites of the European Space Agency (ESA). The study covers the period from October 2014 to October 2018 when the 16 Hz electron density data were available. For comparison, both the absolute (ΔNe) and relative (ΔNe/Ne) density perturbations were used to quantify the level of ionospheric irregularities. The two methods generally reproduced the local time, seasonal and longitudinal distribution of equatorial ionospheric irregularities as shown in earlier studies, demonstrating the ability of Swarm 16 Hz electron density data. A difference between the two methods was observed based on the latitudinal distribution of ionospheric irregularities where ΔNe showed a symmetrical distribution about the magnetic equator, whereas ΔNe/Ne showed a magnetic equator centered Gaussian distribution. High values of ΔNe and ΔNe/Ne were observed in spatial bins with steep gradients of electron density from a longitudinal and seasonal perspective. The response of ionospheric irregularities to geomagnetic and solar activities was also investigated using Kp index and solar radio flux index (F10.7), respectively. A weak positive correlation was obtained between the occurrence of ionospheric irregularities and Kp index, irrespective of the method adopted to quantify the irregularities. In general, both ΔNe and ΔNe/Ne showed a weak positive correlation with F10.7. However, a higher positive correlation was obtained between ΔNe and F10.7 compared to ΔNe/Ne. Using the high-resolution faceplate data, we were able to identify ionospheric irregularities of scales of only a few hundreds of meters.

Sharon Aol et al.
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Sharon Aol et al.
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Short summary
During the night, in the F-region, equatorial ionospheric irregularities manifest as plasma depletions observed by satellites and may cause radio signals to fluctuate. We checked the distribution traits of ionospheric F-region irregularities in the low latitudes using 16 Hz electron density observations made by the faceplate on board Swarm satellites. Using the high-resolution faceplate data, we were able to identify ionospheric irregularities of scales of only a few hundreds of meters.
During the night, in the F-region, equatorial ionospheric irregularities manifest as plasma...
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