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Measuring ion temperatures and studying the ion energy balance in the high-latitude ionosphere

Winser, K.J., Lockwood, M. ORCID:, Jones, G.O.L., Rishbeth, H. and Ashford, M.G. (1990) Measuring ion temperatures and studying the ion energy balance in the high-latitude ionosphere. Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics, 52 (6-8). pp. 501-517. ISSN 00219169

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/0021-9169(90)90049-S


Data are presented for a nighttime ion heating event observed by the EISCAT radar on 16 December 1988. In the experiment, the aspect angle between the radar beam and the geomagnetic field was fixed at 54.7°, which avoids any ambiguity in derived ion temperature caused by anisotropy in the ion velocity distribution function. The data were analyzed with an algorithm which takes account of the non-Maxwellian line-of-sight ion velocity distribution. During the heating event, the derived spectral distortion parameter (D∗) indicated that the distribution function was highly distorted from a Maxwellian form when the ion drift increased to 4 km s−1. The true three-dimensional ion temperature was used in the simplified ion balance equation to compute the ion mass during the heating event. The ion composition was found to change from predominantly O4 to mainly molecular ions. A theoretical analysis of the ion composition, using the MSIS86 model and published values of the chemical rate coefficients, accounts for the order-of-magnitude increase in the atomic/molecular ion ratio during the event, but does not successfully explain the very high proportion of molecular ions that was observed.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:38859

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