Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair(s)

Bela G. Fejer


Bela G. Fejer


Ludger Scherliess


David Peak


In order to model and perform better forecasts of the upper atmosphere, we have studied variations in the equatorial ionosphere due to lunar tidal forcing. We used extensive measurements made by the Jicamarca Unattended Long-Term Investigations of the Ionosphere and Atmosphere (JULIA) and Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) systems at Jicamarca, Peru during geomagnetic quiet conditions to determine the season, local time, and lunar age-dependent lunar tidal effects on equatorial vertical plasma drifts. The amplitudes and phases of the semimonthly and monthly lunar tidal perturbations were derived using a least squares method. Our results indicate that, as expected, lunar tidal effects can significantly modulate the equatorial plasma drifts. The local time and seasonal dependent phase progression has been studied in much more detail than previously and has shown to have significant variations from the average value. The semimonthly drift amplitudes are largest during December solstice and smallest during June solstice during the day and almost season independent at night. The monthly lunar tidal amplitudes are season independent during the day, while nighttime monthly amplitudes are largest and smallest in December solstice and autumnal equinox, respectively. The monthly and semimonthly amplitudes decrease from early morning to afternoon and evening to morning with moderate-to-large increases near dusk and dawn.

We also examined these perturbation drifts during periods of sudden stratospheric warmings (SSWs), which is a meteorological event where the polar vortex is displaced or splits and which has been known to be associated with a large increase in planetary wave activity. Our results show, for the first time, the enhancements of the lunar semimonthly tidal effects associated with SSWs to occur at night, as well as during the day. Our results also indicate during SSWs monthly tidal effects are not enhanced as strongly as the semimonthly effects.