Articles | Volume 17, issue 9
30 Sep 1999
30 Sep 1999

On the usefulness of E region electron temperatures and lower F region ion temperatures for the extraction of thermospheric parameters: a case study

J.-P. St.-Maurice, C. Cussenot, and W. Kofman

Abstract. Using EISCAT data, we have studied the behavior of the E region electron temperature and of the lower F region ion temperature during a period that was particularly active geomagnetically. We have found that the E region electron temperatures responded quite predictably to the effective electric field. For this reason, the E region electron temperature correlated well with the lower F region ion temperature. However, there were several instances during the period under study when the magnitude of the E region electron temperature response was much larger than expected from the ion temperature observations at higher altitudes. We discovered that these instances were related to very strong neutral winds in the 110-175 km altitude region. In one instance that was scrutinized in detail using E region ion drift measurement in conjunction with the temperature observations, we uncovered that, as suspected, the wind was moving in a direction closely matching that of the ions, strongly suggesting that ion drag was at work. In this particular instance the wind reached a magnitude of the order of 350 m/s at 115 km and of at least 750 m/s at 160 km altitude. Curiously enough, there was no indication of strong upper F region neutral winds at the time; this might have been because the event was uncovered around noon, at a time when, in the F region, the E×B drift was strongly westward but the pressure gradients strongly northward in the F region. Our study indicates that both the lower F region ion temperatures and the E region electron temperatures can be used to extract useful geophysical parameters such as the neutral density (through a determination of ion-neutral collision frequencies) and Joule heating rates (through the direct connection that we have confirmed exists between temperatures and the effective electric field).

Key words. Ionosphere (auroral ionosphere; ionosphere atmosphere interactions; plasma temperature and density)