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  1. Abstract

    Medium‐scale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (MSTIDs) are prominent and ubiquitous features of the mid‐latitude ionosphere, and are observed in Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) and high‐resolution Global Navigational Satellite Service (GNSS) Total Electron Content (TEC) data. The mechanisms driving these MSTIDs are an open area of research, especially during geomagnetic storms. Previous studies have demonstrated that nightside MSTIDs are associated with an electrodynamic instability mechanism like Perkins, especially during geomagnetically quiet conditions. However, dayside MSTIDs are often associated with atmospheric gravity waves. Very few studies have analyzed the mechanisms driving MSTIDs during strong geomagnetic storms at mid‐latitudes. In this study, we present mid‐latitude MSTIDs observed in de‐trended GNSS TEC data and SuperDARN radars over the North American sector, during a geomagnetic storm (peakKpreaching 9) on 7–8 September 2017. In SuperDARN, MSTIDs were observed in ionospheric backscatter with Line of Sight (LOS) velocities exceeding 800 m/s. Additionally, radar LOS velocities oscillated with amplitudes reaching ±500 m/s as the MSTIDs passed through the fields‐of‐view. In detrended TEC, these MSTIDs produced perturbations reaching ∼50 percent of background TEC magnitude. The MSTIDs were observed to propagate in the westward/south‐westward direction with a time period of ∼15 min. Projecting de‐trended GNSS TEC data along SuperDARN beams showed that enhancements in TEC were correlated with enhancements in SuperDARN SNR and positive LOS velocities. Finally, SuperDARN LOS velocities systematically switched polarities between the crests and the troughs of the MSTIDs, indicating the presence of polarization electric fields and an electrodynamic instability process during these MSTIDs.

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  2. Abstract

    An interplanetary shock can abruptly compress the magnetosphere, excite magnetospheric waves and field‐aligned currents, and cause a ground magnetic response known as a sudden commencement (SC). However, the transient (<∼1 min) response of the ionosphere‐thermosphere system during an SC has been little studied due to limited temporal resolution in previous investigations. Here, we report observations of a global reversal of ionospheric vertical plasma motion during an SC on 24 October 2011 using ∼6 s resolution Super Dual Auroral Radar Network ground scatter data. The dayside ionosphere suddenly moved downward during the magnetospheric compression due to the SC, lasting for only ∼1 min before moving upward. By contrast, the post‐midnight ionosphere briefly moved upward then moved downward during the SC. Simulations with a coupled geospace model suggest that the reversedvertical drift is caused by a global reversal of ionospheric zonal electric field induced by magnetospheric compression during the SC.

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  3. Abstract

    The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) is a network of High Frequency (HF) radars that are typically used for monitoring plasma convection in the Earth's ionosphere. A majority of SuperDARN backscatter can broadly be divided into three categories: (a) ionospheric scatter due to reflections from plasma irregularities in the E and F regions of the ionosphere, (b) ground scatter caused by reflections from the ground/sea surface following reflection in the ionosphere, and (c) backscatter from meteor trails left by meteoroids as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. Due to the complex nature of HF propagation and mid‐latitude electrodynamics, it is often not straightforward to distinguish between different modes of backscatter observed by SuperDARN. In this study, we present a new two‐stage machine learning algorithm for identifying different backscatter modes in SuperDARN data. In the first stage, a neural network that “mimics” ray‐tracing is used to predict the probability of ionospheric and ground scatter occurring at a given location along with parameters like the elevation angles, reflection heights etc. The inputs to the network include parameters that control HF propagation, such as signal frequency, season, UT time, and geomagnetic activity levels. In the second stage, the output probabilities from the neural network and actual SuperDARN data are clustered together to determine the category of the backscatter. Our model can distinguish between meteor scatter, 1/2 hop E‐/F‐region ionospheric as well as ground/sea scatter. We validate our model by comparing predicted elevation angles with those measured at a SuperDARN radar.

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  4. Abstract

    We utilized citizen scientist photographs of subauroral emissions in the upper atmosphere and identified a repeatable sequence of proton aurora and subauroral red (SAR) arc during substorms. The sequence started with a pair of green diffuse emissions and a red arc that drifted equatorward during the substorm expansion phase. Simultaneous spectrograph and satellite observations showed that they were subauroral proton aurora, where ion precipitation created secondary electrons that illuminated aurora in green and red colors. The ray structures in the red arc also indicated existence of low‐energy electron precipitation. The green diffuse aurora then decayed but the red arc (SAR arc) continued to move equatorward during the substorm recovery phase. This sequence suggests that the SAR arc was first generated by secondary electrons associated with ion precipitation and may then transition to heat flux or Joule heating. Proton aurora provides observational evidence that ion injection to the inner magnetosphere is the energy source for the initiation of the SAR arc.

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  5. Abstract

    Sudden enhancement in high‐frequency absorption is a well‐known impact of solar flare‐driven Short‐Wave Fadeout (SWF). Less understood, is a perturbation of the radio wave frequency as it traverses the ionosphere in the early stages of SWF, also known as the Doppler flash. Investigations have suggested two possible sources that might contribute to it’s manifestation: first, enhancements of plasma density in the D‐and lower E‐regions; second, the lowering of the F‐region reflection point. Our recent work investigated a solar flare event using first principles modeling and Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) HF radar observations and found that change in the F‐region refractive index is the primary driver of the Doppler flash. This study analyzes multiple solar flare events observed across different SuperDARN HF radars to determine how flare characteristics, properties of the traveling radio wave, and geophysical conditions impact the Doppler flash. In addition, we use incoherent scatter radar data and first‐principles modeling to investigate physical mechanisms that drive the lowering of the F‐region reflection points. We found, (a) on average, the change in E‐ and F‐region refractive index is the primary driver of the Doppler flash, (b) solar zenith angle, ray’s elevation angle, operating frequency, and location of the solar flare on the solar disk can alter the ionospheric regions of maximum contribution to the Doppler flash, (c) increased ionospheric Hall and Pedersen conductance causes a reduction of the daytime eastward electric field, and consequently reduces the vertical ion‐drift in the lower and middle latitude ionosphere, which results in lowering of the F‐region ray reflection point.

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  6. Abstract

    We demonstrate a novel method for observing Large Scale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (LSTIDs) using high frequency (HF) amateur radio reporting networks, including the Reverse Beacon Network (RBN), Weak Signal Propagation Reporter Network (WSPRNet), and PSKReporter. LSTIDs are quasi‐periodic variations in ionospheric densities with horizontal wavelengths >1,000 km and periods between 30 and 180 min. On Nov 3, 2017, LSTID signatures were observed simultaneously over the continental United States in amateur radio, SuperDARN HF radar, and GNSS Total Electron Content with a period of ∼2.5 hr, propagation azimuth of ∼163°, horizontal wavelength of ∼1680 km, and phase speed of ∼1,200 km hr−1. SuperMAG SME index enhancements and Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar measurements suggest the LSTIDs were driven by auroral electrojet intensifications and Joule heating. This novel measurement technique has applications in future scientific studies and for assessing the impact of LSTIDs on HF communications.

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  7. Abstract

    Intense sunward (westward) plasma flows, named Subauroral Polarization Stream (SAPS), have been known to occur equatorward of the electron auroras for decades, yet their effect on the upper thermosphere has not been well understood. On the one hand, the large velocity of SAPS results in large momentum exchange upon each ion‐neutral collision. On the other hand, the low plasma density associated with SAPS implies a low ion‐neutral collision frequency. We investigate the SAPS effect during non‐storm time by utilizing a Scanning Doppler Imager (SDI) for monitoring the upper thermosphere, SuperDARN radars for SAPS, all‐sky imagers and DMSP Spectrographic Imager for the auroral oval, and GPS receivers for the total electron content. Our observations suggest that SAPS at times drives substantial (>50 m/s) westward winds at subauroral latitudes in the dusk‐midnight sector, but not always. The occurrence of the westward winds varies withAEindex, plasma content in the trough, and local time. The latitudinally averaged wind speed varies from 60 to 160 m/s, and is statistically 21% of the plasma. These westward winds also shift to lower latitude with increasingAEand increasing MLT. We do not observe SAPS driving poleward wind surges, neutral temperature enhancements, or acoustic‐gravity waves, likely due to the somewhat weak forcing of SAPS during the non‐storm time.

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  8. Abstract

    The sub‐auroral polarization stream (SAPS) is a region of westward high velocity plasma convection equatorward of the auroral oval that plays an important role in mid‐latitude space weather dynamics. In this study, we present observations of SAPS flows extending across the North American sector observed during the recovery phase of a minor geomagnetic storm. A resurgence in substorm activity drove a new set of field‐aligned currents (FACs) into the ionosphere, initiating the SAPS. An upward FAC system is the most prominent feature spreading across most SAPS local times, except near dusk, where a downward current system is pronounced. The location of SAPS flows remained relatively constant, firmly inside the trough, independent of the variability in the location and intensity of the FACs. The SAPS flows were sustained even after the FACs weakened and retreated polewards with a decline in geomagnetic activity. The observations indicate that the mid‐latitude trough plays a crucial role in determining the location of the SAPS and that SAPS flows can be sustained even after the magnetospheric driver has weakened.

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  9. Abstract

    Over‐the‐Horizon communication is strongly dependent on the state of the ionosphere, which is susceptible to solar flares. Trans‐ionospheric high frequency (HF, 3–30 MHz) signals can experience strong attenuation following a solar flare that lasts typically for an hour, commonly referred to as shortwave fadeout (SWF). In this study, we examine the role of dispersion relation and collision frequency formulations on the estimation of SWF in riometer observations using a new physics‐based model framework. The new framework first uses modified solar irradiance models incorporating high‐resolution solar flux data from the GOES satellite X‐ray sensors as input to compute the enhanced ionization produced during a flare event. The framework then uses different dispersion relation and collision frequency formulations to estimate the enhanced HF absorption. The modeled HF absorption is compared with riometer data to determine which formulation best reproduces the observations. We find the Appleton‐Hartree dispersion relation in combination with the averaged collision frequency profile reproduces riometer observations with an average skill score of 0.4, representing 40% better forecast ability than the existing D‐region Absorption Prediction model. Our modeling results also indicate that electron temperature plays an important role in controlling HF absorption. We suggest that adoption of the Appleton‐Hartree dispersion relation in combination with the averaged collision frequency be considered for improved forecasting of ionospheric absorption following solar flares.

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  10. Abstract

    The intrinsic temporal nature of magnetic reconnection at the magnetopause has been an active area of research. Both temporally steady and intermittent reconnection have been reported. We examine the steadiness of reconnection using space‐ground conjunctions under quasi‐steady solar wind driving. The spacecraft suggests that reconnection is first inactive, and then activates. The radar further suggests that after activation, reconnection proceeds continuously but unsteadily. The reconnection electric field shows variations at frequencies below 10 mHz with peaks at 3 and 5 mHz. The variation amplitudes are ∼10–30 mV/m in the ionosphere, and 0.3–0.8 mV/m at the equatorial magnetopause. Such amplitudes represent 30%–60% of the peak reconnection electric field. The unsteadiness of reconnection can be plausibly explained by the fluctuating magnetic field in the turbulent magnetosheath. A comparison with a previous global hybrid simulation suggests that it is the foreshock waves that drive the magnetosheath fluctuations, and hence modulate the reconnection.

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