On the relation between ionospheric winter anomalies and solar wind

G. C. Rumi


There are two different winter anomalies. A small one that appears in connection with ionization at relatively low latitudes in the bottom of the D-region of the ionosphere. There, the electron densities in the winter happen to be less than should be expected. On the other hand, the classic winter anomaly is present when in the winter the upper D-region, again at relatively low latitudes, has more ionization than should be expected. Both these effects are due to the slant compression of the geomagnetic field produced by the solar wind in the winter season (which is, of course, the summer season when reference is made to events in the other hemisphere). It is shown that the small winter anomaly is a consequence of a hemispheric imbalance in the flux of galactic cosmic rays determined by the obliquely distorted geomagnetic field. It is shown that the standard winter anomaly can be ascribed to the influx of a super solar wind, which penetrates into the Earths polar atmosphere down to E-region heights and, duly concentrated through a funneling action at the winter pole of the distorted geomagnetic field, slows down the winter polar vortex. An equatorward motion of the polar air with its content of nitric oxide brings about the excess of ionization in the upper D-region at lower latitudes. The experimentally observed rhythmic recurrence of the upper winter anomaly is correlated to a possible rhythmic recurrence of the super solar wind. The actual detection of the upper winter anomaly could yield some information on the velocity of the basic solar wind. A by-product of the present analysis, the determination of à , the coefficient of collisional detachment of the electrons from the O2 ions, is presented in the Appendix.


Ionospheric winter anomalies;solar wind

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-3571
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X