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Interhemispheric transport of metallic ions within ionospheric sporadic E layers by the lower thermospheric meridional circulation

Yu, B., Xue, X., Scott, C. J. ORCID:, Wu, J., Yue, X., Feng, W., Chi, Y., Marsh, D. R., Liu, H., Dou, X. and Plane, J. M. C. (2021) Interhemispheric transport of metallic ions within ionospheric sporadic E layers by the lower thermospheric meridional circulation. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 21 (5). pp. 4219-4230. ISSN 1680-7316

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/acp-21-4219-2021


Long-lived metallic ions in the Earth’s atmosphere/ionosphere have been investigated for many decades. Although the seasonal variation in ionospheric ‘sporadic E’ layers was first observed in the 1960s, the mechanism driving the variation remains a long-standing mystery. Here we report a study of ionospheric irregularities using scintillation data from COSMIC satellites and identify a large-scale horizontal transport of long-lived metallic ions, combined with the simulations of the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model with the chemistry of metals and ground-based observations from two meridional chains of stations from 1975–2016. We find that the lower thermospheric meridional circulation influences the meridional transport and seasonal variations of metallic ions within sporadic E layers. The winter-to-summer, meridional velocity of ions is estimated to vary between -1.08 and 7.45 m/s at altitudes of 107–118 km between 10�–60�N latitude. Our results not only provide strong support for the lower thermospheric meridional circulation predicted by a whole atmosphere chemistry-climate model, but also emphasise the influences of this winter-to-summer circulation on the large-scale interhemispheric transport of composition in the thermosphere/ionosphere.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:96159
Publisher:Copernicus Publications


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