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Storm-time increases in the ionospheric total electron content


CHANGES in the total electron content of the mid-latitude ionosphere during the first day of each of 20 geomagnetic storms have been monitored by Papagiannis et al.1. They have shown that during the positive phase of the storms the magnitude of the increase in total electron content exhibits a very pronounced maximum near sunset. Although Rishbeth and Hanson2 have shown that plasma convergence in the F region itself cannot account for the observed increases, an inward meridional E×B drift of the plasma may compress the H+ gas at great heights1,2, giving rise to a field-aligned flow of H+ into the ionosphere. We have investigated the consequences of fieldaligned H+ flow by integrating the F region–protonosphere equations of motion and continuity for O+ and H+ along magnetic tubes that are undergoing E×B drift. The range of integration is from the lower F region to the equatorial crossing point of the magnetic tube, the method of integration being essentially that of Moffett and Murphy3. Our results support the idea that an influx of ionisation from the protonosphere may be partly responsible for some storm-time increases in ionosphere content.

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MOFFETT, R., MURPHY, J. & BAILEY, G. Storm-time increases in the ionospheric total electron content. Nature 253, 330–331 (1975).

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