Particle precipitation effects on the South African ionosphere

by Sibanda, P.

Abstract (Summary)
Particle precipitation involves the injection of energetic particles into the ionosphere which could increase the ionisation and conductivity of the upper atmosphere. The goal of this study was to examine the ionospheric response and changes due to particle precipitation in the region over South Africa, using a combination of groundbased and satellite instruments. Particle precipitation events were identified from satellite particle flux measurements of the Defence Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). Comprehensive studies were done on the events of 5 April, 2000 and 7 October, 2000. Analysis of the data from the satellite instruments indicates that no particle precipitation was observed over the South African region during these events and that it is unlikely to occur during other such events. To validate the data, methods and tools used in this study, precipitation in the South Atlantic anomaly (SAA) region is used. Satellite ion density measurements revealed that strong density enhancements occurred over the SAA region at satellite altitudes during the precipitation events, but this did not occur in the South African region. The measurements also revealed how the ionisation enhancements in the SAA region correlated with geomagnetic and solar activities. Particle precipitation and convective electric fields are two major magnetospheric energy sources to the upper atmosphere in the auroral and the SAA regions. These increase dramatically during geomagnetic storms and can disturb thermospheric circulation in the atmosphere and alter the rates of production and recombination of the ionised species. Ionosonde observations at Grahamstown, South Africa (33.30S, 26.50E), provided the data to build a picture of the response of the ionosphere over the South African region to particle precipitation during the precipitation events. This analysis showed that, within the confines of the available data, no direct connections between particle precipitation events and disturbances in the ionosphere over this region were revealed.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:physics electronics


Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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