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  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. This paper presents a multi-instrument observational analysis of the equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) variation over the American sector during a geomagnetically quiet time period of 07–10 December 2019. The day-to-day variability of EPBs and their underlying drivers are investigated through coordinately utilizing the Global-scale Observations of Limb and Disk (GOLD) ultraviolet images, the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) in-situ and remote sensing data, the global navigation satellite system (GNSS) total electron content (TEC) observations, as well as ionosonde measurements. The main results are as follows: 1) The postsunset EPBs’ intensity exhibited a large day-to-day variation in the same UT intervals, which was fairly noticeable in the evening of December 07, yet considerably suppressed on December 08 and 09, and then dramatically revived and enhanced on December 10. 2) The postsunset linear Rayleigh-Taylor instability growth rate exhibited a different variation pattern. It had a relatively modest peak value on December 07 and 08, yet a larger peak value on December 09 and 10. There was a 2-h time lag of the growth rate peak time in the evening of December 09 from other nights. This analysis did not show an exact one-to-one relationship between the peak growth rate and the observed EPBs intensity. 3) The EPBs’ day-to-day variation has a better agreement with that of traveling ionospheric disturbances and atmospheric gravity waves signatures, which exhibited relatively strong wavelike perturbations preceding/accompanying the observed EPBs on December 07 and 10 yet relatively weak fluctuations on December 08 and 09. These coordinate observations indicate that the initial wavelike seeding perturbations associated with AGWs, together with the catalyzing factor of the instability growth rate, collectively played important roles to modulate the day-to-day variation of EPBs. A strong seeding perturbation could effectively compensate for a moderate strength of Rayleigh-Taylor instability growth rate and therefore their combined effect could facilitate EPB development. Lacking proper seeding perturbations would make it a more inefficient process for the development of EPBs, especially with a delayed peak value of Rayleigh-Taylor instability growth rate. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 21, 2024
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 16, 2024
  5. Climate change is characterized by global surface warming associated with the increase of greenhouse gas population since the start of the industrial era. Growing evidence shows that the upper atmosphere is experiencing appreciable cooling over the last several decades. The seminal modeling study by Roble and Dickinson (1989) suggested potential effects of increased greenhouse gases on the ionosphere and thermosphere cooling which appear consistent with some observations. However, several outstanding issues remain regarding the role of CO 2 , other important contributors, and impacts of the cooling trend in the ionosphere and thermosphere: for example, (1) what is the regional variability of the trends? (2) the very strong ionospheric cooling observed by multiple incoherent scatter radars that does not fit with the prevailing theory based on the argument of anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases, why? (3) what is the effect of secular changes in Earth’s main magnetic field? Is it visible now in the ionospheric data and can it explain some of the regional variability in the observed ionospheric trends? (4) what is the impact of long-term cooling in the thermosphere on operational systems? (5) what are the appropriate strategic plans to ensure the long-term monitoring of the critical space climate? 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 13, 2024
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  7. The Tonga volcano eruption at 04:14:45 UT on 2022-01-15 released enormous amounts of energy into the atmosphere, triggering very significant geophysical variations not only in the immediate proximity of the epicenter but also globally across the whole atmosphere. This study provides a global picture of ionospheric disturbances over an extended period for at least 4 days. We find traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs) radially outbound and inbound along entire Great-Circle loci at primary speeds of ∼300–350 m/s (depending on the propagation direction) and 500–1,000 km horizontal wavelength for front shocks, going around the globe for three times, passing six times over the continental US in 100 h since the eruption. TIDs following the shock fronts developed for ∼8 h with 10–30 min predominant periods in near- and far- fields. TID global propagation is consistent with the effect of Lamb waves which travel at the speed of sound. Although these oscillations are often confined to the troposphere, Lamb wave energy is known to leak into the thermosphere through channels such as atmospheric resonance at acoustic and gravity wave frequencies, carrying substantial wave amplitudes at high altitudes. Prevailing Lamb waves have been reported in the literature as atmospheric responses to the gigantic Krakatoa eruption in 1883 and other geohazards. This study provides substantial first evidence of their long-duration imprints up in the global ionosphere. This study was enabled by ionospheric measurements from 5,000+ world-wide Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) ground receivers, demonstrating the broad implication of the ionosphere measurement as a sensitive detector for atmospheric waves and geophysical disturbances. 
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