GPS Observation of Fast-moving Continent-size Traveling TEC Pulsations at the Start of Geomagnetic Storms

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Rezy Pradipta, Cesar E Valladares and Patricia H Doherty, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, United States
Using network of GPS receiver stations in North and South America, we have recently observed fast-moving continent-size traveling plasma disturbances in the mapped total electron content (TEC) data. These space plasma disturbances occurred at the beginning of geomagnetic storms, immediately after the storm's suddent commencement (SSC) and prior to the appearance of large-scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (LSTIDs) from the auroral regions. More specifically, these supersize TEC perturbations were observed when the IMF Bz was oscillating between northward and southward directions. They were found to propagate zonally westward with a propagation speed of 2-3 km/s, if projected onto an ionospheric-equivalent altitude of 350 km. Based on their general characteristics and comparison with ground-based ionosonde data, we interpret these TEC pulsations as ion drift waves in the magnetosphere/plasmasphere that propagate azimuthally inside the GPS orbit.