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  1. Abstract

    We provide evidence that midlatitude postsunrise traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs) are comprised of electrified waves with an eastward propagation component. The post‐sunrise gravity wave (GW) wind‐induced dynamo action effectively generated periodic meridional polarization electric fields (PEFs), facilitating TID zonal propagation in a similar fashion as GW‐driven neutral perturbations. A combination of near‐simultaneous eastward and upward observations using the Millstone Hill incoherent scatter radar along with 2‐dimensional total electron content maps allowed resolution of TID vertical and horizontal propagation as well as zonal ion drifts(meridional PEFs). In multiple observations,oscillated in the early morning during periods when TIDs exhibited downward phase progression, 30–60 min period,140 m/s eastward speed, and 70 km vertical wavelength. Inside these TIDs, multiple flow vortexes occurred in a vertical‐zonal plane spanning the ionospheric topside and bottomside. Subsequently, PEFs weakened after a few hours as TID horizontal wavefronts rotated clockwise.

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  2. Abstract

    The upper boundary height of the traditional community general circulation model of the ionosphere‐thermosphere system is too low to be applied to the topside ionosphere/thermosphere study. In this study, the National Center for Atmospheric Research Thermosphere‐Ionosphere‐Electrodynamics General Circulation Model (NCAR‐TIEGCM) was successfully extended upward by four scale heights from 400–600 km to 700–1,200 km depending on solar activity, named TIEGCM‐X. The topside ionosphere and thermosphere simulated by TIEGCM‐X agree well with the observations derived from a topside sounder and satellite drag data. In addition, the neutral density, temperature, and electron density simulated by TIEGCM‐X are morphologically consistent with the NCAR‐TIEGCM simulations before extension. The latitude‐altitude distribution of the equatorial ionization anomaly derived from TIEGCM‐X is more reasonable. During geomagnetic storm events, the thermospheric responses of TIEGCM‐X are similar to NCAR‐TIEGCM. However, the ionospheric storm effects in TIEGCM‐X are stronger than those in NCAR‐TIEGCM and are even opposites at some middle and low latitudes due to the presence of more closed magnetic field lines. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program observations prove that the ionospheric storm effect of TIEGCM‐X is more reasonable. The well‐validated TIEGCM‐X has significant potential applications in ionospheric/thermospheric studies, such as the responses to storms, low‐latitude dynamics, and data assimilation.

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  3. Abstract

    This study provides first storm time observations of the westward‐propagating medium‐scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (MSTIDs), particularly, associated with characteristic subauroral storm time features, storm‐enhanced density (SED), subauroral polarization stream (SAPS), and enhanced thermospheric westward winds over the continental US. In the four recent (2017–2019) geomagnetic storm cases examined in this study (i.e., 2018‐08‐25/26, 2017‐09‐07/08, 2017‐05‐27/28, and 2016‐02‐02/03 with minimum SYM‐H index −206, −146, −142, and −58 nT, respectively), MSTIDs were observed from dusk‐to‐midnight local times predominately during the intervals of interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) Bz stably southward. Multiple wavefronts of the TIDs were elongated NW‐SE, 2°–3° longitude apart, and southwestward propagated at a range of zonal phase speeds between 100 and 300 m/s. These TIDs initiated in the northeastern US and intensified or developed in the central US with either the coincident SED structure (especially the SED basis region) or concurrent small electron density patches adjacent to the SED. Observations also indicate coincident intense storm time electric fields associated with the magnetosphere–ionosphere–thermosphere coupling electrodynamics at subauroral latitudes (such as SAPS) as well as enhanced thermospheric westward winds. We speculate that these electric fields trigger plasma instability (with large growth rates) and MSTIDs. These electrified MSTIDs propagated westward along with the background westward ion flow which resulted from the disturbance westward wind dynamo and/or SAPS.

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  4. Abstract

    This paper investigates the local and global ionospheric responses to the 2022 Tonga volcano eruption, using ground‐based Global Navigation Satellite System total electron content (TEC), Swarm in situ plasma density measurements, the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) Ion Velocity Meter (IVM) data, and ionosonde measurements. The main results are as follows: (a) A significant local ionospheric hole of more than 10 TECU depletion was observed near the epicenter ∼45 min after the eruption, comprising of several cascading TEC decreases and quasi‐periodic oscillations. Such a deep local plasma hole was also observed by space‐borne in situ measurements, with an estimated horizontal radius of 10–15° and persisted for more than 10 hr in ICON‐IVM ion density profiles until local sunrise. (b) Pronounced post‐volcanic evening equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) were continuously observed across the wide Asia‐Oceania area after the arrival of volcano‐induced waves; these caused aNedecrease of 2–3 orders of magnitude at Swarm/ICON altitude between 450 and 575 km, covered wide longitudinal ranges of more than 140°, and lasted around 12 hr. (c) Various acoustic‐gravity wave modes due to volcano eruption were observed by accurate Beidou geostationary orbit (GEO) TEC, and the huge ionospheric hole was mainly caused by intense shock‐acoustic impulses. TEC rate of change index revealed globally propagating ionospheric disturbances at a prevailing Lamb‐wave mode of ∼315 m/s; the large‐scale EPBs could be seeded by acoustic‐gravity resonance and coupling to less‐damped Lamb waves, under a favorable condition of volcano‐induced enhancement of dusktime plasma upward E×B drift and postsunset rise of the equatorial ionospheric F‐layer.

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  5. Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that solar flares can significantly affect Earth's ionosphere and induce ion upflow with a magnitude of ∼110 m/s in the topside ionosphere (∼570 km) at Millstone Hill (42.61°N, 71.48°W). We use simulations from the Thermosphere‐Ionosphere‐Electrodynamics General Circulation Model (TIEGCM) and observations from Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) at Millstone Hill to reveal the mechanism of ionospheric ion upflow near the X9.3 flare peak (07:16 LT) on 6 September 2017. The ISR observed ionospheric upflow was captured by the TIEGCM in both magnitude and morphology. The term analysis of the F‐region ion continuity equation during the solar flare shows that the ambipolar diffusion enhancement is the main driver for the upflow in the topside ionosphere, while ion drifts caused by electric fields and neutral winds play a secondary role. Further decomposition of the ambipolar diffusive velocity illustrates that flare‐induced changes in the vertical plasma density gradient is responsible for ion upflow. The changes in the vertical plasma density gradient are mainly due to solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV, 15.5–79.8 nm) induced electron density and temperature enhancements at the F2‐region ionosphere with a minor and indirectly contribution from X‐ray (0–15.5 nm) and ultraviolet (UV, 79.8–102.7 nm).

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  6. Abstract

    Following the 2022 Tonga Volcano eruption, dramatic suppression and deformation of the equatorial ionization anomaly (EIA) crests occurred in the American sector ∼14,000 km away from the epicenter. The EIA crests variations and associated ionosphere‐thermosphere disturbances were investigated using Global Navigation Satellite System total electron content data, Global‐scale Observations of the Limb and Disk ultraviolet images, Ionospheric Connection Explorer wind data, and ionosonde observations. The main results are as follows: (a) Following the eastward passage of expected eruption‐induced atmospheric disturbances, daytime EIA crests, especially the southern one, showed severe suppression of more than 10 TEC Unit and collapsed equatorward over 10° latitudes, forming a single band of enhanced density near the geomagnetic equator around 14–17 UT, (b) Evening EIA crests experienced a drastic deformation around 22 UT, forming a unique X‐pattern in a limited longitudinal area between 20 and 40°W. (c) Thermospheric horizontal winds, especially the zonal winds, showed long‐lasting quasi‐periodic fluctuations between ±200 m/s for 7–8 hr after the passage of volcano‐induced Lamb waves. The EIA suppression and X‐pattern merging was consistent with a westward equatorial zonal dynamo electric field induced by the strong zonal wind oscillation with a westward reversal.

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  7. Abstract

    A new TEC‐based ionospheric data assimilation system (TIDAS) over the continental US and adjacent area (20°–60°N, 60°–130°W, and 100–600 km) has been developed through assimilating heterogeneous ionospheric data, including dense ground‐based Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Total Electron Content (TEC) from 2,000+ receivers, Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate radio occultation data, JASON satellite altimeter TEC, and Millstone Hill incoherent scatter radar measurements. A hybrid Ensemble‐Variational scheme is utilized to reconstruct the regional 3‐D electron density distribution: a more realistic and location‐dependent background error covariance matrix is calculated from an ensemble of corrected NeQuick outputs, and a three‐dimensional variational (3DVAR) method is adopted for measurement updates to obtain an optimal state estimation. The spatial‐temporal resolution of the reanalyzed 3‐D electron density product is as high as 1° × 1° in latitude and longitude, 20 km in altitude, and 5 min in universal time, which is sufficient to reproduce ionospheric fine structure and storm‐time disturbances. The accuracy and reliability of data assimilation results are validated using ionosonde and other measurements. TIDAS reanalyzed electron density is able to successfully reconstruct the 3‐D morphology and dynamic evolution of the storm‐enhanced density (SED) plume observed during the St. Patrick's day geomagnetic storm on 17 March 2013 with high fidelity. Using TIDAS, we found that the 3‐D SED plume manifests as a ridge‐like high‐density channel that predominantly occurred between 300 and 500 km during 19:00–21:00 UT for this event, with the F2 region peak height being raised by 40–60 km and peak density enhancement of 30%–50%.

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  8. Abstract

    Ionospheric F‐region electron density is anomalously higher in the evening than during the daytime on many occasions in the summer in geomagnetic mid‐latitude regions. This unexpected ionospheric diurnal variation has been studied for several decades. The underlying processes have been suggested to be related to meridional winds, topside influx arising from sunset ionospheric collapse, and other factors. However, substantial controversies remain unresolved. Using a numerical model driven by the statistical topsideO+diffusive flux from the Millstone Hill incoherent scatter radar data, we provide new insight into the competing roles of topside diffusive flux, neutral winds, and electric fields in forming the evening density peak. Simulations indicate that while meridional winds, which turn equatorward before sunset, are essential to sustain the daytime ionization near dusk, the topside diffusive flux is critically important for the formation and timing of the summer evening density peak.

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  9. Abstract

    This work conducts a focused study of subauroral ion‐neutral coupling processes and midlatitude ionospheric/thermospheric responses in North America during a minor but quite geo‐effective storm on September 27–28, 2019 under deep solar minimum conditions. Several prominent storm‐time disturbances and associated electrodynamics/dynamics were identified and comprehensively analyzed using Millstone Hill and Poker Flat incoherent scatter radar measurements, Fabry‐Perot interferometer data, total electron content data from Global Navigation Satellite System observations, and thermospheric composition O/N2data from the Global‐scale Observations of Limb and Disk mission. Despite solar minimum conditions, this minor storm produced several prominent dynamic features, in particular (a) Intense subauroral polarization stream (SAPS) of 1,000 m/s, overlapping with a deepened main trough structure. (b) An enhanced westward wind of 230 m/s and a significant poleward wind surge of 85 m/s occurred in the post‐SAPS period. (c) Large‐scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs) were generated and propagated equatorward across mid‐latitudes in the storm main phase. TID characteristics were significantly affected by SAPS, evolving into divergent propagation patterns. (d) SAPS was situated on the poleward edge of a considerable storm‐enhanced density structure. (e) The midlatitude ionosphere and thermosphere exhibited a prolonged positive storm effect in the main phase and beginning of recovery phase, with 5–10 TECU increase and 10%–30% O/N2enhancement for 12 h. This was followed by a considerable negative storm effect with 5–10 TECU and 20%–40% O/N2decrease. Results show that minor storm intervals can produce substantial mid‐latitude ionospheric and thermospheric dynamics in low solar flux conditions.

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  10. Abstract

    We report the first lidar observations of regular occurrence of mid‐latitude thermosphere‐ionosphere Na (TINa) layers over Boulder (40.13°N, 105.24°W), Colorado. Detection of tenuous Na layers (∼0.1–1 cm−3from 150 to 130 km) was enabled by high‐sensitivity Na Doppler lidar. TINa layers occur regularly in various months and years, descending from ∼125 km after dusk and from ∼150 km before dawn. The downward‐progression phase speeds are ∼3 m/s above 120 km and ∼1 m/s below 115 km, consistent with semidiurnal tidal phase speeds. One or more layers sometimes occur across local midnight. Elevated volume mixing ratios above the turning point (∼105–110 km) of Na density slope suggest in situ production of the dawn/dusk layers via neutralization of converged Na+layers. Vertical drift velocity of TINa+calculated with the Ionospheric Connection Explorer Hough Mode Extension tidal winds shows convergent ion flow phases aligned well with TINa, supporting this formation hypothesis.

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