The relationship between VHF radar auroral backscatter amplitude and Doppler velocity: a statistical study
Abstract. A statistical investigation of the relationship between VHF radar auroral backscatter intensity and Doppler velocity has been undertaken with data collected from 8 years operation of the Wick site of the Sweden And Britain Radar-auroral Experiment (SABRE). The results indicate three different regimes within the statistical data set; firstly, for Doppler velocities <200 m s–1, the backscatter intensity (measured in decibels) remains relatively constant. Secondly, a linear relationship is observed between the backscatter intensity (in decibels) and Doppler velocity for velocities between 200 m s–1 and 700 m s–1. At velocities greater than 700 m s–1 the backscatter intensity saturates at a maximum value as the Doppler velocity increases. There are three possible geophysical mechanisms for the saturation in the backscatter intensity at high phase speeds: a saturation in the irregularity turbulence level, a maximisation of the scattering volume, and a modification of the local ambient electron density. There is also a difference in the dependence of the backscatter intensity on Doppler velocity for the flow towards and away from the radar. The results for flow towards the radar exhibit a consistent relationship between backscatter intensity and measured velocities throughout the solar cycle. For flow away from the radar, however, the relationship between backscatter intensity and Doppler velocity varies during the solar cycle. The geometry of the SABRE system ensures that flow towards the radar is predominantly associated with the eastward electrojet, and flow away is associated with the westward electrojet. The difference in the backscatter intensity variation as a function of Doppler velocity is attributed to asymmetries between the eastward and westward electrojets and the geophysical parameters controlling the backscatter amplitude.