Study of the ionospheric total electron content response to the great flare on 15 April 2001 using the International GPS Service network for the whole sunlit hemisphere

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Abstract

[1] The characteristics of the ionospheric response to the solar flare on Apr. 15, 2001 were studied using the total electron content (TEC) obtained at GPS observational stations in the whole sunlit hemisphere under International GPS Service for Geodynamics. It was found that the largest enhancement of the sudden increase of total electron content during this flare is ∼2.6 TECU (1 TECU = 1016 m−2). The effects of solar flare radiation on the ionosphere can be recognized even in the region at 0600 or 1800 LT. Owing to ionospheric scintillation, the TEC enhancement could not be derived from temporal TEC variation curves in high latitudes. On the other hand, the synoptic picture of the sunlit ionospheric response to the flare was obtained, and the results showed the relationship of TEC enhancements with solar zenith angles. The larger the solar zenith angle, the smaller the TEC enhancement. Even minor fast changes in TEC during this flare are revealed in the changing rate of temporal TEC variations in midlatitudes and low latitudes. These small globally synchronous disturbances of TEC were compared with the solar X-ray fluxes of this flare observed by satellites, and a close correlation between those small ionospheric disturbances and the hard X-ray flux fluctuations was found.

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