Magnetic storm effect on the occurrence of ionospheric irregularities at an equatorial station in the African sector

Olushola Abel Oladipo, Torben Schüler


Large-scale ionospheric irregularities usually measured by GPS TEC fluctuation indices are regular occurrence at the equatorial region shortly after sunset around solar maximum. Magnetic storm can trigger or inhibit the generation of these irregularities depending on the local time the main phase of a particular storm occurs. We studied the effect of nine (9) distinct storms on the occurrence of ionospheric irregularities at Fraceville in Gabon (Lat = −1.63˚, Long = 13.55˚, dip lat. = −15.94˚), an equatorial station in the African sector. These storms occurred between November 2001 and September 2002. We used TEC fluctuation indices (i.e. ROTI and ROTIAVE) estimated from 30 s interval Rinex data and also we used the storm indices (i.e. Dst, dDst/dt, and IMF BZ) to predict the likely effect of each storm on the irregularities occurrence at this station. The results obtained showed that most of the storms studied inhibited ionospheric irregularities. Only one out of all the storms studied (i.e. September 4, 2002 storms with the main phase on the night of September 7-8) triggered post-midnight ionospheric irregularities. There are two of the storms during which ionospheric irregularities were observed. However, these may not be solely attributed to the storms event because the level of irregularities observed during these two storms is comparable to that observed during previous days before the storms. For this station and for the storms investigated, it seems like a little modification to the use of Aarons categories in terms of the local time the maximum negative Dst occurs could lead to a better prediction. However, it would require investigating many storms during different level of solar activities and at different latitudes to generalize this modification.


Equatorial ionosphere; Ionospheric irregularities; TEC (Total Electron Content); ROT (Rate of Change of TEC); Magnetic storm

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X