Investigation of the Ionosphere over Antarctica Under Quiet Space Weather Conditions: Results of Vertical Sounding of the Ionosphere September 14–24, 2020
Keywords:electron density, F2 layer peak height, ionosonde, quiet space weather, models of the ionosphere, downward plasma flux
We present observational results of variations in the ionospheric parameters hmF2 and NmF2 over the Ukrainian Antarctic station “Akademik Vernadsky” for magnetically quiet conditions. The results of comparative analysis of observational data and the International Reference Ionosphere-2016 model predictions are presented. The main objective of this study is to investigate the temporal variations of two key ionospheric parameters – the F2 layer peak height and electron density – during very quiet space weather conditions using data of vertical sounding of the ionosphere obtained over the Ukrainian Antarctic station “Akademik Vernadsky” and comparison the observation results with model values. Methods: The temporal variations of the F2 layer peak height and electron density were calculated from ionograms obtained with ionosonde installed at the Ukrainian Antarctic station “Akademik Vernadsky” with subsequent electron density profile inversion. Diurnal variations of hmF2 and NmF2 were calculated using a set of sub-models of the IRI-2016 model for comparison with results of observational studies. Results: We found that for the Antarctic region option of IRI-2016 model for the F2 layer peak height SHU-2015 provides a better fit for hmF2 through the investigated period compare to the AMTB-2013 model predictions. Electron density models (URSI, CCIR) generally well reproduce the observed variations of NmF2 during periods of absence non-standard manifestations of space weather, which are possible for quiet conditions too. Hypotheses regarding the possible reasons for experimental and model differences in variations of NmF2 are discussed. The analysis of effect of geomagnetic storm on September 24, 2020 on NmF2 variations was carried out. Conclusions: The obtained results demonstrate peculiarities of the state of the ionosphere-plasmasphere system over Antarctica under very quiet space weather conditions and provide evaluation of predictive capabilities of modern international reference ionosphere models. New knowledge about the features of electron density variations in the ionosphere for magnetically quiet conditions over the Antarctic region has practical value for specialists which are engaged in the study of the near-Earth space environment, in particular, at high latitudes, and also work on correction of global ionospheric models.
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