Equatorial plasma fountain and its effects over three locations: Evidence for an additional layer, the F3 layer

N. Balan, G. J. Bailey, M. A. Abdu, K. I. Oyama, P. G. Richards, J. MacDougall, I. S. Batista

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The equatorial plasma fountain and equatorial anomaly in the ionospheres over Jicamarca (77°W), Trivandrum (77°E), and Fortaleza (38°W) are presented using the Sheffield University plasmasphere-ionosphere model under magnetically quiet equinoctial conditions at high solar activity. The daytime plasma fountain and its effects in the regions outside the fountain lead to the formation of an additional layer, the F3 layer, at latitudes within about plus or minus 10° of the magnetic equator in each ionosphere. The maximum plasma concentration of the F3 layer, which occurs at about 550 km altitude, becomes greater than that of the F2 layer for a short period of time before noon when the vertical E × B drift is large. Within the F3 layer the plasma temperature decreases by as much as 100 K. The ionograms recorded at Fortaleza on January 15, 1995, provide observational evidence for the development and decay of an F3 layer before noon. The neutral wind, which causes large north-south asymmetries in the plasma fountain in each ionosphere during both daytime and nighttime, becomes least effective during the prereversal strengthening of the upward drift. During this time the plasma fountain is symmetrical with respect to the magnetic equator and rises to over 1200 km altitude at the equator, with accompanying plasma density depletions in the bottomside of the underlying F region. The north-south asymmetries of the equatorial plasma fountain and equatorial anomaly are more strongly dependent upon the displacement of the geomagnetic and geographic equators (Jicamarca and Trivandrum) than on the magnetic declination angle (Fortaleza).

Original languageEnglish
Article number95JA02639
Pages (from-to)2047-2056
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research A: Space Physics
Issue numberA2
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Jan 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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