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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 30, issue 9 | Copyright
Ann. Geophys., 30, 1345-1360, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 13 Sep 2012

Regular paper | 13 Sep 2012

Electron density profiles in the quiet lower ionosphere based on the results of modeling and experimental data

V. Barabash1, A. Osepian2, P. Dalin3, and S. Kirkwood3 V. Barabash et al.
  • 1Luleå University of Technology, Rymdcampus 1, 981 92 Kiruna, Sweden
  • 2Polar Geophysical Institute, Halturina 15, 183 023 Murmansk, Russia
  • 3Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Rymdcampus 1, 981 92 Kiruna, Sweden

Abstract. The theoretical PGI (Polar Geophysical Institute) model for the quiet lower ionosphere has been applied for computing the ionization rate and electron density profiles in the summer and winter D-region at solar zenith angles less than 80° and larger than 99° under steady state conditions. In order to minimize possible errors in estimation of ionization rates provided by solar electromagnetic radiation and to obtain the most exact values of electron density, each wavelength range of the solar spectrum has been divided into several intervals and the relations between the solar radiation intensity at these wavelengths and the solar activity index F10.7 have been incorporated into the model. Influence of minor neutral species (NO, H2O, O, O3) concentrations on the electron number density at different altitudes of the sunlit quiet D-region has been examined. The results demonstrate that at altitudes above 70 km, the modeled electron density is most sensitive to variations of nitric oxide concentration. Changes of water vapor concentration in the whole altitude range of the mesosphere influence the electron density only in the narrow height interval 73–85 km. The effect of the change of atomic oxygen and ozone concentration is the least significant and takes place only below 70 km.

Model responses to changes of the solar zenith angle, solar activity (low–high) and season (summer–winter) have been considered. Modeled electron density profiles have been evaluated by comparison with experimental profiles available from the rocket measurements for the same conditions. It is demonstrated that the theoretical model for the quiet lower ionosphere is quite effective in describing variations in ionization rate, electron number density and effective recombination coefficient as functions of solar zenith angle, solar activity and season. The model may be used for solving inverse tasks, in particular, for estimations of nitric oxide concentration in the mesosphere.

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