Claudia Stolle

and 6 more

The prediction of post-sunset equatorial plasma depletions (EPDs), often called ionospheric plasma bubbles, has remained a challenge for decades. In this study, we introduce the Ionospheric Bubble Probability (IBP), an empirical model predicting the occurrence probability of EPDs derived from 9 years of CHAMP and 8.5 years of Swarm magnetic field measurements. The model predicts the occurrence probability of EPDs for a given longitude, day of year, local time and solar activity, for the altitude range 350-500 km, and low geographic latitudes of ± 45◦. IBP has been found to successfully reconstruct the distribution of EPDs as reported in previous studies from independent data. IBP has been further evaluated using one-year of partly untrained data of the Ionospheric Bubble Index (IBI). IBI is a Level 2 product of the Swarm satellite mission used for EPD identification. The relative operating characteristics (ROC) curve shows positive excursion above the no-skill line with Hanssen and Kuiper’s Discriminant (H&KSS) score of 0.66, 0.73, and 0.65 at threshold model outputs of 0.22, 0.18, and 0.18 for Swarm A, B, and C satellites, respectively. Additionally, the reliability plots show proximity to the diagonal line with a fairly decent Brier Skill Score (BSS) of 0.317, 0.320, and 0.316 for Swarm A, B, and C respectively. These tests indicate that the model performs significantly better than a no-skill forecast. The IBP model offers a compelling glimpse into the future of EPD forecasting, thus demonstrating its potential to reliably predict EPD occurrences. The IBP model is made publicly available.