Solar zenith angle dependence of plasma density and temperature in the polar cap ionosphere and low-altitude magnetosphere during geomagnetically quiet periods at solar maximum

N. Kitamura, Y. Ogawa, Y. Nishimura, Naoki Terada, T. Ono, A. Shinbori, Atsushi Kumamoto, V. Truhlik, J. Smilauer

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Abstract

We constructed an empirical model of the electron density profile with solar zenith angle (SZA) dependence in the polar cap during geomagnetically quiet periods using 63 months of Akebono satellite observations at solar maximum. The electron density profile exhibits a transition at ∼2000 km altitude only under dark conditions. The electron density and scale height at low altitudes change drastically, by factors of 25 (at 2300 km altitude) and 2.0, respectively, as the SZA increases from 90 to 120. The SZA dependence of the ion and electron temperatures is also investigated statistically on the basis of data obtained by the Intercosmos satellites and European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) Svalbard radar (ESR). A drastic change in the electron temperature occurs near the terminator, similarly to that in the electron density profile obtained by the Akebono satellite. The sum of the ion and electron temperatures obtained by the ESR (∼6500 K at ∼1050 km altitude under sunlit conditions and ∼3000 K at ∼750 km altitude under dark conditions) agrees well with the scale height at low altitudes obtained from the Akebono observations, assuming that the temperature is constant and that O + ions are dominant. Comparisons between the present statistical results (SZA dependence of the electron density and ion and electron temperatures) and modeling studies of the polar wind indicate that the plasma density profile (especially of the O+ ion density) in the polar cap is strongly controlled by solar radiation onto the ionosphere by changing ion and electron temperatures in the ionosphere during geomagnetically quiet periods.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA08227
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Volume116
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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