Variability of Equatorial Ionospheric Bubbles over Planetary Scale: Assessment of Terrestrial Drivers

Lalit Mohan Joshi, Lung Chih Tsai, Shin Yi Su, Abhijit Dey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nighttime F-region field-aligned irregularities (FAIs) associated with equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) are impacted by terrestrial factors, such as solar irradiance and geomagnetic activity. This paper examines the impact of the planetary-scale periodic variability of terrestrial processes on EPB activity. Continual observations of the Equatorial Atmosphere Radar (EAR) have been utilized to derive the intra-seasonal variability of nighttime F-region FAIs in the context of the terrestrial factors mentioned above. A periodicity analysis using wavelet and Lomb–Scargle (LS) spectral analysis indicated significant amplitudes of the long-period planetary-scale variability in the F-region FAI signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), 10.7 cm flux, and geomagnetic indices, as well as a shorter period of variability. Interestingly, a careful inspection of the time series indicated the planetary-scale variability of F-region FAIs to be reasonably out of phase with the periodic geomagnetic variability. EPB occurrence and the FAI signal-to-noise ratio presented a systematic decrease with an increase in the level of geomagnetic activity. Non-transient quiet-time geomagnetic activity has been found to suppress both the occurrence as well as the strength of F-region FAIs. The impacts of planetary-scale geomagnetic activity appear to be non-identical in the summer and equinoctial EPBs. The results highlight the importance of periodic terrestrial processes in driving the planetary-scale variability of EPBs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1517
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • equatorial plasma bubble
  • geomagnetic activity
  • ionospheric irregularity
  • planetary-scale variation


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