Field-aligned plasma flow in the quiet, mid-latitude ionosphere deduced from topside soundings
Lockwood, M. (1983) Field-aligned plasma flow in the quiet, mid-latitude ionosphere deduced from topside soundings. Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics, 45 (1). pp. 1-14. ISSN 00219169
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/S0021-9169(83)80002-6
A method for quantifying diffusive flows of O+ ions in the topside ionosphere from satellite soundings is described. A departure from diffusive equilibrium alters the shape of the plasma scale-height profile near the F2-peak where ion-neutral frictional drag is large. The effect enables the evaluation of , the field-aligned flux of O+ ions relative to the neutral oxygen atom gas, using MSIS model values for the neutral thermospheric densities and temperature. Upward flow values are accurate to within about 10%, the largest sources of error being the MSIS prediction for the concentration of oxygen atoms and the plasma temperature gradient deduced from the sounding. Downward flux values are only determined to within 20%. From 60,000 topside soundings, taken at the minimum and rising phase of the solar cycle, a total of 1098 mean scale-height profiles are identified for which no storm sudden commencement had occurred in the previous 12 days and for which Kp was less than 2o, each mean profile being an average of about six soundings. A statistical study ofdeduced from these profiles shows the diurnal cycle of O+ flow in the quiet, topside ionosphere at mid-latitudes and its seasonal variations. The differences betweenand ion flux observations from incoherent scatter radars are considered using the meridional thermospheric winds predicted by a global, three-dimensional model. The mean interhemispheric flow from summer to winter is compared with predictions by a numerical model of the protonospheric coupling of conjugate ionospheres for up to 6 days following a geomagnetic storm. The observed mean (of order 3 × 1016 ions day−1 along a flux tube of area 1 m2 at 1000 km) is larger than predicted for day 6 and the suggested explanation is a decrease in upward flows from the winter, daytime ionosphere between the sixth and twelfth days.