Ionospheric Ion Temperature Forecasting in Multiples of 27 Days


Sojka, J. J., Schunk, R. W., & Nicolls, M. J. (2014). Ionospheric ion temperature forecasting in multiples of 27 days. Space Weather, 12(3), 148-160.


The ionospheric variability found at auroral locations is usually assumed to be unpredictable. The magnetosphere, which drives this ionospheric variability via storms and substorms, is at best only qualitatively describable. In this study we demonstrate that over a 3 year period, ionospheric variability observed from Poker Flat, Alaska, has, in fact, a high degree of long-term predictability. The observations used in this study are (a) the solar wind high speed stream velocity measured by the NASA Advanced Composition Explorer satellite, used to define the corotating interaction region (CIR), and (b) the ion temperature at 300 km altitude measured by the National Science Foundation Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar over Poker Flat, Alaska. After determining a seasonal and diurnal climatology for the ion temperature, we show that the residual ion temperature heating events occur synchronously with CIR-geospace interactions. Furthermore, we demonstrate examples of ion temperature forecasting at 27, 54, and 81 days. A rudimentary operational forecasting scenario is described for forecasting recurrence 27 days ahead for the CIR-generated geomagnetic storms. These forecasts apply specifically to satellite tracking operations (thermospheric drag) and emergency HF-radio communications (ionospheric modifications) in the polar regions. The forecast is based on present-day solar and solar wind observations that can be used to uniquely identify the coronal hole and its CIR. From this CIR epoch, a 27 day forecast is then made.

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