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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 30, issue 3
Ann. Geophys., 30, 527-536, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-30-527-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 30, 527-536, 2012
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-30-527-2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 08 Mar 2012

Regular paper | 08 Mar 2012

Global characteristics of the lunar tidal modulation of the equatorial electrojet derived from CHAMP observations

H. Lühr1,*, T. A. Siddiqui2, and S. Maus3,4 H. Lühr et al.
  • 1Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ – German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Department of Geology and Geophysics, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India
  • 3Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
  • 4NOAA National Geophysical Data Center, Boulder, CO, USA
  • *Invited contribution by H. Lühr, recipient of the EGU Julius Bartels Medal 2011.

Abstract. It has been known since many decades that lunar tide has an influence on the strength of the equatorial electrojet (EEJ). There has, however, never been a comprehensive study of the tidal effect on a global scale. Based on the continuous magnetic field measurements by the CHAMP satellite over 10 years it is possible to investigate the various aspects of lunar effects on the EEJ. The EEJ intensity is enhanced around times when the moon is overhead or at the antipode. This effect is particularly strong around noon, shortly after new and full moon. The lunar tide manifests itself as a semi-diurnal wave that precesses through all local times within one lunar month. The largest tidal amplitudes are observed around December solstice and smallest around June solstice. The tidal wave crest lags behind the moon phase. During December this amounts to about 4 days while it is around 2 days during other times of the year. We have not found significant longitudinal variations of the lunar influence on the EEJ. When comparing the average EEJ amplitude at high solar activity with that during periods of solar minimum conditions a solar cycle dependence can be found, but the ratio between tidal amplitude and EEJ intensity stays the same. Actually, tidal signatures standout clearer during times of low solar activity. We suggest that the tidal variations are caused by a current system added to the EEJ rather than by modulating the EEJ. Gravitational forcing of the lower atmosphere by the moon and the sun is assumed to be the driver of an upward propagating tidal wave. The larger tidal amplitudes around December solstice can be related to stratospheric warming events which seem to improve the conditions for upward propagation.

The results described here have to large extent been presented as a Julius-Bartels Medal Lecture during the General Assembly 2011 of the European Geosciences Union.

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