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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Space and Planetary Science