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Probing geomagnetic storm-driven magnetosphere-ionosphere dynamics in D-region via propagation characteristics of very low frequency radio signals

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • Victor U. J. Nwankwo
  • Sandip K. Chakrabarti
  • Olugbenga Ogunmodimu
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>07/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)154-169
Early online date29/04/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The amplitude and phase of VLF/LF radio signals are sensitive to changes in electrical conductivity of the lower ionosphere which imprints its signature on the Earth-ionosphere waveguide. This characteristics makes it useful in studying sudden ionospheric disturbances, especially those related to prompt X-ray flux output from solar flares and gamma ray bursts (GRBs). However, strong geomagnetic disturbance and storm conditions are known to produce large and global ionospheric disturbances, which can significantly affect VLF radio propagation in the D region of the ionosphere. In this paper, using the data of three propagation paths at mid-latitudes (40° – 54°), we analyze the trend of aspects of VLF diurnal signal under varying solar and geomagnetic space environmental conditions in order to identify possible geomagnetic footprints on the D region characteristics. We found that the trend of variations generally reflect the prevailing space weather conditions in various time scales. In particular, the ‘dipping’ of mid-day signal amplitude (MDP) of VLF always occurs after geomagnetic perturbed or storm conditions in the time scale of 1–2 days. The mean signal before sunrise (MBSR) and mean signal after sunset (MASS) also exhibit storm-induced dipping, but they appear to be influenced by event's exact occurrence time and highly variable conditions of dusk-to-dawn ionosphere. We observed fewer cases of the signals rise (e.g., MDP, MBSR or MASS) following a significant geomagnetic event, though this effect may be related to storms associated phenomena or effects arising from sources other than solar origin. The magnitude of induced dipping (or rise) significantly depends on the intensity and duration of event(s), as well as the propagation path of the signal. The post-storm day signal (following a main event, with lesser or significantly reduced geomagnetic activity), exhibited a tendency of recovery to pre-storm day level. In the present analysis, We do not see a well defined trend of the variations of the post-storm sunrise terminator (SRT) and sunset terminator (SST). The SRT and SST signals show more post-storm dipping in GQD-A118 propagation path but generally an increase along DHO-A118 propagation path. Thus the result could be propagation path dependent and detailed modeling is required to understand these phenomena.

Bibliographic note

This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, 145, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2016.04.014