Thermospheric density simultaneously observed by the CHAMP and GRACE satellites in both the pre-dawn and afternoon local time sectors undergoes significant decrease across both hemispheres during the major stratospheric sudden warming (SSW) in January 2009. This decrease is largest in the equatorial region near the subsolar latitude, reaching ∼30% at 325 km, and 45% at 475 km altitude in the afternoon sector. This large density drop demonstrates a substantial cooling of about 50 Kelvin in the equatorial upper thermosphere. Furthermore, the cooling varies clearly with longitude in terms of magnitude and the timing of the maximum cooling. Thermosphere cooling can have important impact on the ionosphere, as indicated by simultaneous plasma observations. Though many questions remain about what causes the cooling, our results open a new perspective for investigating the global coupling of the lower and upper atmosphere during SSWs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences