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Authors: Mikhailov, A. V.* 
Perrone, L.* 
Title: On the mechanism of seasonal and solar cycle NmF2 variations: A quantitative estimate of the main parameters contribution using incoherent scatter radar observations
Issue Date: 18-Mar-2011
Series/Report no.: /116 (2011)
DOI: 10.1029/2010JA016122
Keywords: mid-latitude ionosphere
thermosphere composition and chemistry
Subject Classification01. Atmosphere::01.02. Ionosphere::01.02.99. General or miscellaneous 
01. Atmosphere::01.02. Ionosphere::01.02.01. Ion chemistry and composition 
01. Atmosphere::01.02. Ionosphere::01.02.02. Dynamics 
Abstract: Seasonal (winter/summer) and solar cycle NmF2 variations as well as summer saturation effect in NmF2 have been analyzed using Millstone Hill incoherent scatter radar (ISR) daytime observations. A self‐consistent approach to the Ne(h) modeling has been applied to extract from ISR observations a consistent set of main aeronomic parameters and to estimate their quantitative contribution to the observed NmF2 variations. The retrieved aeronomic parameters are independent of uncertainties in thermosphere and solar EUV empirical models, and this is a distinguishing feature of the present consideration. Different temperatures in winter and in summer in the course of solar cycle overlapped on the O++N2 reaction rate coefficient temperature dependence result in different NmF2 dependences on solar activity: a steep practically linear increase with a tendency to turn up in January (contrary to international reference ionosphere prediction) and a slow increase with a tendency to saturate at high solar activity in July despite increasing solar EUV irradiation. In winter the EUV flux and thermospheric parameters provide approximately equal contributions to the NmF2 increase, while in summer the contribution of thermospheric parameters is small. Both in winter and in summer the variations of atomic oxygen [O] are small at the F2 layer peak, and its contribution is small compared to linear loss coefficient, b. It is shown that the summer saturation effect in NmF2 under high solar activity is not just reduced to O/N2 or EUV flux solar cycle variations but is determined by b via the g1 temperature dependence. A new mechanism (qualitative) to explain the December anomaly in NmF2 is proposed. It is based on the idea that the areas of atomic oxygen production and its loss are spatially separated and that time is required to transfer [O] from one area to the other where [O] associates in a three‐body collision. Therefore, under a 7% increase in the O2 dissociation rate due to the Sun‐Earth distance decrease in December–January compared to June–July, an accumulation of atomic oxygen should take place in the thermosphere in the vicinity of the December solstice resulting in a 21% NmF2 increase, which is close to the observed global December effect.
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