Open Astronomy (Oct 2020)

Effects of Solar Activity on Ionospheric Ion Upflow During Geomagnetic Quiet Periods: DMSP Observations

  • Fu Shuai,
  • Jiang Yong,
  • Zhang Xiaoping

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 29, no. 1
pp. 158 – 167


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Based on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) observations during Solar Cycle 23, this paper examines solar activity dependence of ionospheric bulk ion upflow events (IUEs) in the Southern Hemisphere (SH). Much previous similar work was conducted over the Northern Hemisphere (NH) with measurements from European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT). To eliminate the influence of geomagnetic disturbance on IUEs, we pick out observations during geomagnetic quiet periods (with Kp ≤ 2+). Results show that, ion upward densities and fluxes are dramatically elevated at times of high solar activity (HSA) but ion upward drifts and occurrences are increased at times of low solar activity (LSA) in the SH, which is consistent with the situation in the NH. The ratios between HSA and LSA for these four parameters (IUEs’ density, flux, upward drift and occurrence) are ~2.71, ~1.98, ~0.76 and ~0.57, respectively. Furthermore, lower flux event takes place frequently at LSA as the background ion density is low but the upward drift is large, while higher flux event happens commonly at times of HSA accompanied by high ion density but low upward velocity. Quantitatively, an increase in unit of solar activity (characterized by P index) causes a 4.2×108 m−3 increase in ion density and a 1.2×1011 m−2·s−1 enhancement in upward flux, together with a 0.6 m·s−1 and 0.02 % decrease in ion upward velocity and uprate, respectively. The acceleration from the ambipolar electric field is thought to be a possible mechanism affecting the dependence of IUEs on solar variations. For HSA, the acceleration from the ambipolar electric field weakens, but a large number of background ions provide abundant seeds for acceleration and upflow, which maintains a high IUE flux. It is inferred that upflow events and upward drifts are inhibited by the enhanced ionospheric background density.