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Automated Detection and Tracking of Low Latitude Plasma Bubbles Utilizing Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) 135.6 nm Data
  • Vincent James Adkins,
  • Scott L England
Vincent James Adkins
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Unversity

Corresponding Author:vja9999@vt.edu

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Scott L England
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
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Plasma bubbles are regions of depleted plasma within the upper thermosphere/ionosphere that form during post-sunset hours near the magnetic equator. These structures tend to align with local geomagnetic field lines, extend upwards hundreds of kilometers along geomagnetic longitudes, and thousands of kilometers along geomagnetic latitudes. These large scale plasma density gradients can attenuate lower frequency radio waves, while small scale structures along the walls can interfere with centimeter scale wavelengths via Fresnel and Bragg scattering. Large scale statistical analysis of this phenomenon can further understanding of their occurrence and subsequent behavior. The current study utilizes Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) 135.6 nm nightglow data from October 5, 2018 to September 30, 2022. GOLD has a unique perspective from geostationary orbit, allowing a constant and consistent view of nightglow and structures over the Americas and Atlantic. A plasma bubble detection method is developed and used to generate a database of plasma bubble occurrences. Occurrences are used to calculate plasma bubble drift speeds and separations. Clear seasonality in plasma bubble occurrence rate is evident. Overall occurrences peak during December solstice months and minimize during June solstice for longitudes seen by GOLD. Within GOLD’s field of view, higher occurrences are seen to the west during December solstice and east during June solstice. Plasma bubble drift speeds and separations show consistent distributions regardless of magnetic region, geographic region, season, or local time. This suggests plasma bubbles behave consistently and regularly once formed, at least on spatial scales seen by GOLD.
17 Mar 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
26 Mar 2023Published in ESS Open Archive