Articles | Volume 14, issue 12
Special issue:
31 Dec 1996
31 Dec 1996

Observations of nightside auroral plasma upflows in the F-region and topside ionosphere

C. Foster and M. Lester

Abstract. Observations from the special UK EISCAT program UFIS are presented. UFIS is a joint UHF-VHF experiment, designed to make simultaneous measurements of enhanced vertical plasma flows in the F-region and topside ionospheres. Three distinct intervals of upward ion flow were observed. During the first event, upward ion fluxes in excess of 1013 m–2 s–1 were detected, with vertical ion velocities reaching 300 m s–1 at 800 km. The upflow was associated with the passage of an auroral arc through the radar field of view. In the F-region, an enhanced and sheared convection electric field on the leading edge of the arc resulted in heating of the ions, whilst at higher altitudes, above the precipitation region, strongly enhanced electron temperatures were observed; such features are commonly associated with the generation of plasma upflows. These observations demonstrate some of the acceleration mechanisms which can exist within the small-scale structure of an auroral arc. A later upflow event was associated with enhanced electron temperatures and only a moderate convection electric field, with no indication of significantly elevated ion tem- peratures. There was again some evidence of F-region particle precipitation at the time of the upflow, which exhibited vertical ion velocities of similar magnitude to the earlier upflow, suggesting that the behaviour of the electrons might be the dominant factor in this type of event. A third upflow was detected at altitudes above the observing range of the UHF radar, but which was evident in the VHF data from 600 km upwards. Smaller vertical velocities were observed in this event, which was apparently uncorrelated with any features observed at lower altitudes. Limitations imposed by the experimental conditions inhibit the interpretation of this event, although the upflow was again likely related to topside plasma heating.

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