The Continuous Generation of Equatorial Plasma Bubbles during the Passage of the Solar Terminator, Observed with a Densely-Clustered Network of GPS Receivers in Southeast Asia.
Monday, 15 December 2014
Equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) are three-dimensional structures of depleted plasma density that are often observed in the nighttime equatorial ionosphere. They are initiated near the magnetic dip equator, in the bottomside of the F layer, and develop with time, upward in altitude and poleward in latitude (into both hemispheres), taking the form of longitudinally-narrow, vertically-extended wedges that penetrate deep into the topside of the F layer. Moreover, these structures drift zonally as they evolve in time. Much of what is not yet known about EPBs stems from our inability (1) to capture spatial descriptions of these structures, and (2) to monitor their evolution as a function of time. An objective of this presentation is to report the existence and availability of total electron content (TEC) data from densely-clustered networks of GPS receivers that are capable of providing time-continuous descriptions of EPBs with both high spatial resolution and broad geographical coverage. The networks include the Malaysia Real-Time Kinematics GNSS Network (MyRTKnet), Sumatera GPS Array (SUGAR) network and International GNSS Service (IGS) located in Southeast Asia (SEA). These networks contain 127 GPS receivers with average spacing of about 50 to 100 km. With the ability to resolve space-time ambiguities, we are able to follow the temporal evolution of EPB structures over an extended longitude sector (90 to 120 degrees, East longitude). We will present results from a case study (April 5, 2011) in which 16 EPBs were detected in longitude and tracked in time. We show, for the first time, that the births of 10 out of 16 observed EPBs coincided with the time of passage of the solar terminator across the longitude of birth. The distance between birth locations varied between 100 and 550 km with 10-minute interval. These EPBs were found to persist for 50 minutes to 7 hours, while drifting eastward at a speed of 92 to 150 ms-1. The finding that as many as 16 EPBs can be generated in a continuous sequence over 30 degree of longitude is new. The implications of these findings in terms of seeding and amplification will be discussed.