High altitude observations of electron temperature and a possible north-south asymmetry

M. H. Denton, G. J. Bailey, Y. Z. Su, K. I. Oyama, T. Abe

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Measurements of electron temperature made by the thermal electron energy distribution (TED) instrument on board the EXOS-D (Akebono) satellite have been analysed. From the data taken between 1989 and 1995, averaged daytime and nighttime temperature profiles for different geophysical conditions have been produced. These profiles represent the averaged thermal electron temperature between 1000 and 8000 km altitude for conditions of high (F10.7>150) and low (F10.7<120) solar activity. Results indicate that increased solar activity has a marked effect on the electron temperature. At 8000 km altitude, the typical low-latitude daytime electron temperature is around 8000 K. The nighttime electron temperature at 8000 km is around 4000 K. The averaged daytime difference between high and low solar activity conditions is around 1000 K at altitudes above 2500 km. Between 1000 and 2000 km altitude this situation is reversed, and the electron temperature is comparatively higher during periods of low solar activity during both day and night. Composition changes in the region are proposed as a mechanism for this reversal. In addition, there is evidence of an asymmetry in thermal electron temperature between the northern and southern hemispheres. The averaged electron temperature is found to be comparatively higher in the northern hemisphere during the daytime and comparatively higher in the southern hemisphere during the nighttime. This difference between hemispheres is particularly evident during the nighttime, and during the rapid heating and cooling periods around sunrise and sunset. Possible reasons for the asymmetry are discussed. Profiles are also presented for conditions of high (Ap>30) and low (Ap<20) magnetic activity. Analysis has confirmed that geomagnetic activity has little effect on electron temperature below L=2.2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-788
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jul

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science

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