Longitudinal structure of the equatorial ionosphere during the 24 h local time period is observed by the FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC (F3/C) satellite constellation. By binning the F3/C radio occultation observations during September and October 2006, global ionospheric total electron content (TEC) maps at a constant local time map (local time TEC map, referred as LT map) can be obtained to monitor the development and subsidence of the four-peaked longitudinal structure of the equatorial ionosphere. From LT maps, the four-peaked structure starts to develop at 0800-1000 LT and becomes most prominent at 1200-1600 LT. The longitudinal structure starts to subside after 2200-2400 LT and becomes indiscernible after 0400-0600 LT. In addition to TEC, ionospheric peak altitude also shows a four-peaked longitudinal structure with variation very similar to TEC during daytime. The four-peaked structure of the ionospheric peak altitude is indiscernible at night. With global local time maps of ionospheric TEC and peak altitude, we compare temporal variations of the longitudinal structure with variations of E x B drift from the empirical model. Our results indicate that the observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the four-peaked longitudinal structure is caused by the equatorial plasma fountain modulated by the E3 nonmigrating tide. Additionally, the four maximum regions show a tendency of moving eastward with propagation velocity of several 10 s m/s.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Space and Planetary Science