Structure and origins of the Weddell Sea Anomaly from tidal and planetary wave signatures in FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC observations and GAIA GCM simulations

Loren C. Chang, Huixin Liu, Yasunobu Miyoshi, Chia Hung Chen, Fu Yuan Chang, Chien Hung Lin, Jann Yenq Liu, Yan Yi Sun

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30 Scopus citations


The Weddell Sea Anomaly (WSA) is a recurrent feature of the austral summer midlatitude ionosphere where electron densities are observed to maximize during the local nighttime. In this study, tidal decomposition is applied to FORMOSAT-3 (Formosa Satellite)/Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere, and Climate (COSMIC) total electron content (TEC) and electron density observations between 2007 and 2012 to quantify the components dominating local time and spatial variation in the WSA region. Our results present some of the first three-dimensional spaceborne analyses of the WSA from a tidal perspective over multiple years. We find that the features of the WSA can be reconstructed as the result of superposition between the dominant diurnal standing (D0), eastward wave number 1 (DE1), westward wave number 2 (DW2), and stationary planetary wave 1 (SPW1) components in TECs, producing the characteristic midnight WSA peak. The D0, DE1, DW2, and SPW1 components are found to be an interannually recurring feature of the southern midlatitude to high-latitude ionosphere during the summer, manifesting as enhancements in electron density around 300km altitude of the summer middle to high magnetic latitudes. The phases of the aforementioned nonmigrating diurnal signatures in electron density in this region are near evanescent, suggesting in situ generation, rather than upward propagation from below. However, the SPW1 signature shows some signs of an eastward tilt with altitude, suggesting possible downward propagation. The relation of these components to possible generation via in situ photoionization or plasma transport along magnetic field lines is also discussed using results from the Ground-to-topside model of Atmosphere and Ionosphere for Aeronomy (GAIA) general circulation model (GCM), connecting the tidal interpretation of the WSA to previously examined generation mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1325-1340
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2015


  • GAIA
  • MSNA
  • ionosphere
  • tides
  • wedded sea anomaly


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