Observation and Simulation of the Development of Equatorial Plasma Bubbles: Post-Sunset Rise or Upwelling Growth?

Min Yang Chou, N. M. Pedatella, Qian Wu, J. D. Huba, Charles C.H. Lin, W. S. Schreiner, J. J. Braun, R. W. Eastes, Jia Yue

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This study investigates the underlying physics of equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) on 11 December 2019, under solar minimum conditions. The Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) ultraviolet nightglow images exhibit a periodic distribution of reduced emissions related to EPBs. Remarkably, FORMOSAT-7/COSMIC-2 (F7/C2) observes a significant altitudinal difference of ~45 km in the bottomside ionosphere between two nearly collocated electron density profiles before the onset of EPBs, indicating the presence of an upwelling. Distinct ionospheric perturbations are also observed in F7/C2 and ground-based Global Positioning System observations, suggesting that gravity waves may contribute to the upwelling. Simulations with SAMI3/ESF are further carried out to evaluate the upwelling growth and pre-reversal enhancement (PRE) effect on EPB development. Simulations reveal that the crests of upwellings show a localized uplift of ~50 km, and EPBs only develop from the crest of upwellings. The uplift altitude of upwellings is comparable to the F7/C2 observations and the post-sunset rise in moderate solar conditions. The polarization electric field (Ep) developed within the upwellings can drive vertical Ep × B drifts of ~32–35 m/s, which are comparable to the PRE vertical E × B drifts. We find that the PRE alone cannot drive EPBs without upwelling growth, but it can facilitate the upwelling growth. Observations and simulations allow us to conclude that upwelling growth could play a vital role in the formation of EPBs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JA028544
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics

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