TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 64 (No. 12), pp. 1295-1307, 2012

Giant ionospheric disturbances observed with the SuperDARN Hokkaido HF radar and GPS network after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake

Tadahiko Ogawa1, Nozomu Nishitani2, Takuya Tsugawa1, and Kazuo Shiokawa2

1National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, Tokyo 184-8795, Japan
2Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Nagoya University, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan

(Received December 22, 2011; Revised August 1, 2012; Accepted August 2, 2012; Online published January 28, 2013)

Abstract: Giant ionospheric disturbances induced by the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake (Mw 9.0) on 11 March 2011 are studied by using data from the SuperDARN Hokkaido HF radar and GPS receiver network (GEONET) in Japan. The HF radar observations revealed strong disturbances to the north of Hokkaido that propagated northward at velocities of 6.7-1.8 km/s triggered by northward-propagating seismic surface waves. An induction magnetometer in Hokkaido recorded part of the seismic wave propagation from the epicenter. After the passage of the 6.7-1.8 km/s waves the radar observed northward-propagating disturbances (343-136 m/s) due to atmospheric gravity waves (AGW) perhaps excited near the epicenter. Interestingly, the radar first detected peculiar disturbances with periods of about 2-4 min caused by the acoustic resonance. GEONET, which covers the area on the south of the radar field of view, provided total electron content (TEC) data. Comparisons between radar and TEC observations indicate the following: (1) 6.7-1.8 km/s waves observed with the radar do not always have counterparts in TEC. (2) Acoustic waves of 1.3-0.7 km/s identified in TEC are not observed with the radar. (3) Disturbances caused by both AGW and acoustic resonance are simultaneously discernible in both TEC and radar data.
Key words: Earthquake, ionospheric disturbance, Hokkaido radar, GPS, TEC, Rayleigh wave, acoustic-gravity wave, acoustic resonance.

Corresponding author E-mail: taogawa@nict.go.jp

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