Characterising the electron density fluctuations in the high-latitude ionosphere at Swarm altitude in response to the geomagnetic activity

Fabio Giannattasio, Paola De Michelis, Giuseppe Consolini, Virgilio Quattrociocchi, Igino Coco, Roberta Tozzi


The high-latitude ionosphere is characterised by plasma density irregularities with typical sizes in a wide range of scales (from ~1 m up to ~1000 km). The enhancement of these irregularities caused for instance by severe Space Weather conditions may ultimately generate failures, among all, of navigation and positioning systems. For this reason, an accurate characterisation of the dynamic properties of electron density and their variation with the geomagnetic activity is of central importance especially at high latitudes. In this framework, taking advantage of high resolution in situ measurements by the recent ESA-Swarm space mission orbiting in the ionospheric F-layer, we study the dynamical properties of the electron density at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere and in response to changes in the geomagnetic activity levels. In addition, we characterise the scaling properties of the electron density fluctuations via nonlinear techniques involving the first-order structure functions. The resultsare consistent with a turbulent interpretation of the ionospheric dynamics, and with the presence of different turbulent regimes in different locations and at varying geomagnetic activity conditions.

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