Impact of sudden stratospheric warmings on equatorial ionization anomaly

L. P. Goncharenko, A. J. Coster, J. L. Chau, C. E. Valladares

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197 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate the ionospheric response to several stratospheric sudden warming events which occurred in Northern Hemisphere winters of 2008 and 2009 during solar minimum conditions. We use GPS total electron content data in a broad latitudinal region at ±40° geographic latitude and a single longitude, 75°W. In all cases, we find a strong daytime ionospheric response to stratospheric sudden warmings. This response is characterized by a semidiurnal character, large amplitude, and persistence of perturbations for up to 3 weeks after the peak in high-latitude stratospheric temperatures. The ionospheric perturbations at the lower latitudes usually begin a few days after the peak in stratospheric temperature and are observed as an enhancement of the equatorial ionization anomaly (EIA) in the morning sector and a suppression of the EIA in the afternoon sector. There is also evidence of a secondary enhancement in the postsunset hours. Once observed in the low latitudes, the phase of semidiurnal perturbations progressively shifts to later local times in subsequent days. This progressive shift occurs at a different rate for different stratospheric warming events. The large magnitude and persistence of ionospheric perturbations, together with the predictability of stratospheric sudden warmings several days in advance, present an opportunity to investigate these phenomena in a systematic manner which may eventually lead to a multiday forecast of low-latitude ionosphere conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA00G07
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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