The 6 September 2017 X-Class Solar Flares and Their Impacts on the Ionosphere, GNSS, and HF Radio Wave Propagation

Space Weather. 2018 Aug;16(8):1013-1027. doi: 10.1029/2018SW001932. Epub 2018 Aug 15.


On 6 September 2017, the Sun emitted two significant solar flares (SFs). The first SF, classified X2.2, peaked at 09:10 UT. The second one, X9.3, which is the most intensive SF in the current solar cycle, peaked at 12:02 UT and was accompanied by solar radio emission. In this work, we study ionospheric response to the two X-class SFs and their impact on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems and high-frequency (HF) propagation. In the ionospheric absolute vertical total electron content (TEC), the X2.2 SF caused an overall increase of 2-4 TECU on the dayside. The X9.3 SF produced a sudden increase of ~8-10 TECU at midlatitudes and of ~15-16 TECU enhancement at low latitudes. These vertical TEC enhancements lasted longer than the duration of the EUV emission. In TEC variations within 2-20 min range, the two SFs provoked sudden increases of ~0.2 TECU and 1.3 TECU. Variations in TEC from geostationary and GPS/GLONASS satellites show similar results with TEC derivative of ~1.3-1.7 TECU/min for X9.3 and 0.18-0.24 TECU/min for X2.2 in the subsolar region. Further, analysis of the impact of the two SFs on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems-based navigation showed that the SF did not cause losses-of-lock in the GPS, GLONASS, or Galileo systems, while the positioning error increased by ~3 times in GPS precise point positioning solution. The two X-class SFs had an impact on HF radio wave propagation causing blackouts at <30 MHz in the subsolar region and <15 MHz in the postmidday sector.

Keywords: GNSS; TEC slips; ionosphere; losses‐of‐lock; solar flare; solar radioburst; space weather.