Ionospheric and Thermospheric Response to the 2015 St. Patrick's Day Storm: a Global Multi-Instrumental Overview
Abstract:We study the ionospheric response to the geomagnetic storm of 17-18 March 2015 (the St. Patrick’s Day 2015 storm) that was up to now the strongest in the 24th solar cycle (minimum SYM-H value of -233 nT). For this purpose, we use data of ground-based GPS-receivers and ionosondes, along space-borne instruments onboard the following satellites: Jason-2, GRACE, Terra-SAR-X, the three Swarm satellites (A, B, and C), and GUVI/TIMED.
The storm consisted of two successive moderate storms. In the response to the first short storm, a short-term positive effect in the ionospheric vertical electron content (VTEC) occurred at low- and mid-latitudes on the dayside. The second event lasted longer and caused significant and complex storm-time changes around the globe. At high-latitudes, negative storm signatures were recorded in all longitudinal regions. The negative storm phase was found to be strongest in the Asian sector, in particular in the northern hemisphere (NH), but developed globally on March 18 at the beginning of the recovery phase. At mid-latitudes, inverse hemispheric asymmetries occurred in different longitudinal regions: in the European-African sector, positive storm signatures were observed in the NH, whereas in the American sector, a large positive storm occurred in the southern hemisphere (SH), and the NH experienced a negative storm. These observations performed around the spring equinox signify the existence of other impact factors than seasonal dependence for hemispheric asymmetries to occur. At low-latitudes, data from multiple satellites revealed the strongest storm-time effects in the morning (~100-150% enhancement) and post-sunset (~80-100% enhancement) sectors in the topside ionosphere. These dramatic VTEC enhancements were observed at different UT, but around the same area of Eastern Pacific region.
To further understand the storm development, we are planning to use thermospheric data from Swarm-C satellite, as well as the data from the electric field instrument onboard the three Swarm satellites.