Response of the thermosphere and ionosphere to an ultra fast Kelvin wave

Loren C. Chang, Scott E. Palo, Han Li Liu, Tzu Wei Fang, Chin S. Lin

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57 Scopus citations


Ultra Fast Kelvin (UFK) waves are eastward propagating planetary waves with periods between 3 and 5 days, which are capable of penetrating into the thermosphere and ionosphere where they may modulate phenomena occurring in this region. A sensitivity study has been conducted to examine the effect of an Ultra Fast Kelvin wave on the thermosphere and ionosphere using the NCAR Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Electrodynamics General Circulation Model (TIME-GCM) under June solstice solar minimum conditions. It is found that realistic ultra fast Kelvin waves with amplitudes in the MLT region of approximately 20-40 m s-1 in zonal wind fields and 10-20 K in temperature fields, can result in approximately 8-12% perturbations in hourly neutral density at 350 km, as well as hourly total electron content (TEC) perturbations of 25-50% in regions corresponding to the equatorial ionization anomalies (EIAs), with the largest relative changes resolved during the nighttime due to the lower electron densities. The electrodynamical calculations in the model were then disabled to identify the relative importance of ionospheric electrodynamics and direct wave propagation in generating the aforementioned changes. The subsequent results show that changes in thermospheric neutral density are relatively insensitive to the presence of the dynamo electric field, while UFK wave modulation of the dynamo accounts for most of the TEC perturbations due to changes of ionospheric vertical plasma drift.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA00G04
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2010


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