During quiet period, the nocturnal equatorial ionospheric plasma drifts eastward in the zonal direction and downward in the vertical direction. This quiet time drift pattern could be understood through dynamo processes in the nighttime equatorial ionosphere. The present case study reports the nocturnal simultaneous occurrence of the vertically downward and zonally westward plasma drifts over the Indian latitudes during the geomagnetic storm of 17 March 2015. After ~17:00 UT (~22:10 local time), the vertical plasma drift became downward and coincided with the westward zonal drift, a rarely observed feature of low latitude plasma drifts. The vertical drift turned upward after ~18:00 UT, while the zonal drift became eastward. We mainly emphasize here the distinct bipolar type variations of vertical and zonal plasma drifts observed around 18:00 UT. We explain the vertical plasma drift in terms of the competing effects between the storm time prompt penetration and disturbance dynamo electric fields. Whereas, the westward drift is attributed to the storm time local electrodynamical changes mainly through the disturbance dynamo field in addition to the vertical Pedersen current arising from the spatial (longitudinal) gradient of the field aligned Pedersen conductivity.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
Keywords: ; ; ;
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