Comparisons between EISCAT observations and model calculations of the high latitude ionosphere
Quegan, S., Gill, R.S. and Lockwood, M. (1988) Comparisons between EISCAT observations and model calculations of the high latitude ionosphere. Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics, 50 (12). pp. 1057-1076. ISSN 00219169
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/0021-9169(88)90095-5
Calculations using a numerical model of the convection dominated high latitude ionosphere are compared with observations made by EISCAT as part of the UK-POLAR Special Programme. The data used were for 24–25 October 1984, which was characterized by an unusually steady IMF, with Bz < 0 and By > 0; in the calculations it was assumed that a steady IMF implies steady convection conditions. Using the electric field models of Heppner and Maynard (1983) appropriate to By > 0 and precipitation data taken from Spiroet al. (1982), we calculated the velocities and electron densities appropriate to the EISCAT observations. Many of the general features of the velocity data were reproduced by the model. In particular, the phasing of the change from eastward to westward flow in the vicinity of the Harang discontinuity, flows near the dayside throat and a region of slow flow at higher latitudes near dusk were well reproduced. In the afternoon sector modelled velocity values were significantly less than those observed. Electron density calculations showed good agreement with EISCAT observations near the F-peak, but compared poorly with observations near 211 km. In both cases, the greatest disagreement occurred in the early part of the observations, where the convection pattern was poorly known and showed some evidence of long term temporal change. Possible causes for the disagreement between observations and calculations are discussed and shown to raise interesting and, as yet, unresolved questions concerning the interpretation of the data. For the data set used, the late afternoon dip in electron density observed near the F-peak and interpreted as the signature of the mid-latitude trough is well reproduced by the calculations. Calculations indicate that it does not arise from long residence times of plasma on the nightside, but is the signature of a gap between two major ionization sources, viz. photoionization and particle precipitation.