Occurrence climatology of equatorial plasma bubbles derived using FormoSat-3 ĝ• COSMIC GPS radio occultation data

Ankur Kepkar, Christina Arras, Jens Wickert, Harald Schuh, Mahdi Alizadeh, Lung Chih Tsai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The Global Positioning System - Radio Occultation (GPS-RO) observations from FormoSat-3 = COSMIC are used to comprehend the global distribution of equatorial plasma bubbles which are characterized by depletion regions of plasma in the F region of the ionosphere. Plasma bubbles that cause intense scintillation of the radio signals are identified based on the S4 index derived from the 1 Hz raw signal-to-noise ratio measurements between 2007 and 2017. The analyses revealed that bubbles influenced by background plasma density occurred along the geomagnetic equator and had an occurrence peak around the dip equator during high solar activity. The peak shifted between the African and American sectors, depending on different solar conditions. Plasma bubbles usually developed around 19:00 local time (LT), with maximum occurrence around 21:00 LT during solar maximum and 22:00 LT during solar minimum. The occurrence of bubbles showed a strong dependence on longitudes, seasons, and solar cycle with the peak occurrence rate in the African sector around the March equinox during high solar activity, which is consistent with previous studies. The GPS-RO technique allows an extended analysis of the altitudinal distribution of global equatorial plasma bubbles obtained from high vertical resolution profiles, thus making it a convenient tool which could be further used with other techniques to provide a comprehensive view of such ionospheric irregularities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-623
Number of pages13
JournalAnnales Geophysicae
Issue number3
StatePublished - 13 May 2020


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