Peculiar Features of Ionospheric F3-Layer during Prolonged Solar Minimum (2007-2009)

Monday, 15 December 2014
Chinmaya Nayak1, Virendra Yadav1, Bharati A Kakad1, Samireddipalle Sripathi1, Kaliappan Emperumal1, Tarun K Pant2, Archana Bhattacharyya1 and Shuanggen Jin3, (1)Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, Navi Mumbai, India, (2)Space Physics Laboratory, Trivandrum, India, (3)Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China
Seasonal and local time occurrence of ionospheric F3-layer over Tirunelveli (geo. lon. 77.8° E, geo. lat. 8.7° N, dip 0.7°) during extremely low and prolonged solar activity period (2007-2009) has been presented in this paper. Almost three times increase in the occurence of the F3-layer has been observed 2009 (~ 48%) as compared to that during 2007(~ 16%). The increase of this order just within low solar activity period is unusual. In earlier studies similar increase in F3 occurrence has been reported when solar activity changes from high (F10.7=182) to low (F10.7=72). Another important feature of this study, is the presence of post-noon F3 layers that are observed predominantly during the summer solstice of 2009. Such occurrence of post-noon F3 layers was nearly absent during summer solstice of previous solar minimum (1996) over nearby dip equatorial station Trivandrum. Using the equatorial electrojet (EEJ) as a proxy for eastward electric field, we found that the EEJ strength and the maximum rate of change of EEJ are higher for F3-days as compared to that during non-F3 days. It was also observed that the peak occurrence of pre-noon F3-layer closely coincides with the time of maximum rate of change of EEJ. The present study reveals that the rate of change of eastward electric field (dE/dt) as well plays an important role in the formation of F3-layer.