International Journal of
Physical Sciences

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Phys. Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1992-1950
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJPS
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 2464

Full Length Research Paper

High-latitude thermospheric zonal winds during low solar activity period

Sivla W. T.
  • Sivla W. T.
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria.
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Ugonabo O. J.
  • Ugonabo O. J.
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria.
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Okoro E. C.
  • Okoro E. C.
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria.
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  •  Received: 02 December 2017
  •  Accepted: 18 January 2018
  •  Published: 30 January 2018

Abstract

Changes resulting from the cyclical nature of the sun’s energy output result to variations in thermosphere-ionosphere system parameters. The prolonged low solar activity period of solar cycle 23 provides an opportunity to study the thermosphere-ionosphere system parameters when the sun was at its ground state. The CHAMP satellite has provided wind data that can be used for investigation of neutral thermospheric parameters such as zonal winds and density. Using zonal wind data from 2006 to 2008 generated from CHAMP accelerometer readings using an iterative algorithm, the diurnal variation of averaged zonal thermospheric winds in the high latitudes (70 - 80°N) has been investigated. In the analysis we grouped the data into four seasons; the March and September equinoxes, and the June and December solstices. The wind data is binned into local time bins and averaged to find the hourly mean speeds. The results reveal maximum eastward and westward wind speeds going above 150 m/s for each of the seasons considered. Of particular interest is the observation that despite the expected complex behavior resulting from the expected magnetospheric inputs, the diurnal patterns are similar to those obtained in the mid-latitudes in an earlier study with data from this algorithm. Due to likely errors arising from the longitudinal effects of mixing composite solar times, there is need for simultaneous measurements in the high latitudes.

Key words: CHAMP satellite, high latitude, solar activity, thermosphere.