Plasma Dynamics Associated with Equatorial Ionospheric Irregularities
Smith, Jonathon Matthew
Heelis, Roderick A.
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The Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System satellite was operational from 2008, a period of deep solar minimum, to 2015, a period of moderate solar conditions. The behavior of the vertical plasma drift and the distribution of plasma depletions during the deep solar minimum of 2009 deviated substantially from the behavior that was observed during the solar moderate conditions encountered by the Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System satellite in 2014, which are typical of previous observations. Presented here are observations of the vertical drift of plasma depletions and the background plasma in which they are embedded. We find that depletions detected at local times after 2100 hr during solar minimum are typically found in background drifts that are weakly downward compared to the strongly downward background drifts observed during moderate solar activity levels. Additionally, at solar minimum, the drift within the depletions is upward with respect to the background as compared with observations at the same local times during solar moderate conditions for which the depleted plasma more nearly drifts with the background. We note that weak background plasma drifts observed throughout the night during solar minimum promote the continued growth of depletions that may evolve more slowly or be continuously generated to appear in the topside in the postmidnight hours. ©2018. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.