EGU General Assembly 2022
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Total Electron Content Variations during an HSS/CIR driven storm at high and middle latitudes

Gopika Prasannakumara Pillai Geethakumari1, Anita Aikio1, Lei Cai1, Heikki Vanhamaki1, Marcus Pedersen1, Anthea Coster2, Aurelie Marchaudon3, Pierre-Louis Blelly3, Veronika Haberle3, Astrid Maute4, Nada Ellahouny1, Ilkka Virtanen1, Johannes Norberg5, Shin-Ichiro Soyama6, and Maxime Grandin7
Gopika Prasannakumara Pillai Geethakumari et al.
  • 1University of Oulu, Space Physics and Astronomy, Oulu, Finland (
  • 2MIT Haystack Observatory, USA
  • 3IRAP, University of Toulouse, France
  • 4High Altitude Observatory, NCAR, USA
  • 5Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 6ISEE, Nagoya University, Japan
  • 7CoE in Sustainable Space, University of Helsinki, Finland

Magnetic storms are caused by the interactions between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetosphere. Many studies have been carried out for strong magnetic storms. However, moderate or weak storms and their impacts on the ionosphere are less explored. This study investigates the large-scale and mesoscale structures in ionospheric total electron content (TEC) during a moderate storm (Sym-H index minimum: -63 nT) driven by two interacting solar wind high-speed streams (HSSs) and associated co-rotating interaction regions (CIRs) during 14-21 March 2016. For the solar wind, the IMF Bz minimum is -20 nT and the solar wind speed maximum 612 km/s. The long storm starts with a strong storm sudden commencement (SSC) with a peak close to 19 UT on 14 March 2016. The GNSS/TEC maps are obtained from the Madrigal database. The associated field-aligned currents (FACs) from AMPERE, ionospheric convection maps from SuperDARN, and the O/N2 ratio from TIMED/GUVI are also studied for understanding the physics behind.

The focus of the study is on the changes of TEC at high and middle latitudes and the possible coupling between the two. To better characterize the changes, we subtract from the TEC maps the quiet time background (13 March 2016). Our analysis shows the different responses of TEC changes during the storm initial, main, and recovery phases. During the initial phase, TEC enhancements and depletions are found mainly at high latitudes within the auroral oval and close to the cusp, plausibly associated with auroral precipitation and variations in the upward and downward field-aligned currents (FACs). After the onset of the main phase, the TEC is enhanced at mid-latitudes with a maximum of ~10 TECU. During the main phase, we observe the evolution of a storm-enhanced-density (SED) plume and a transient enhancement of TEC in the polar cap. During the late main and the recovery phases, a strong TEC depletion at high and middle latitudes is found on the dayside and in the evening sector. The depletion is associated with the decrease of the O/N2 ratio indicating upwelling of the neutral atmosphere. The possible physical mechanisms associated with the observed TEC variations will be discussed.

How to cite: Geethakumari, G. P. P., Aikio, A., Cai, L., Vanhamaki, H., Pedersen, M., Coster, A., Marchaudon, A., Blelly, P.-L., Haberle, V., Maute, A., Ellahouny, N., Virtanen, I., Norberg, J., Soyama, S.-I., and Grandin, M.: Total Electron Content Variations during an HSS/CIR driven storm at high and middle latitudes, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-8194,, 2022.


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