The relationship between electric fields, conductances and currents in the high-latitude ionosphere: a statistical study using EISCAT data
Abstract. The relationship between electric fields, height-integrated conductivities and electric currents in the high-latitude nightside electrojet region is known to be complex. The tristatic nature of the EISCAT UHF radar facility provides an excellent means of exploring this interrelationship as it enables simultaneous estimates to be made of the full electric field vector and the ionospheric Hall and Pedersen conductances, further allowing the determination of both field-perpendicular electric current components. Over 1300 h of common programme observations by the UHF radar system provide the basis of a statistical study of electric fields, conductances and currents in the high-latitude ionosphere, from which preliminary results are presented. Times at which there is significant solar contribution to the ionospheric conductances have been excluded by limiting the observations according to solar zenith angle. Initial results indicate that, in general, the times of peak conductance, identified from the entire set of EISCAT observations, do not correspond to the times of the largest electric field values; the relative contribution of ionospheric conductance and electric field to the electrojet currents therefore depends critically on local time, a conclusion which corroborates work by previous authors. Simultaneous measurements confirm a tendency for a decrease in both Hall and Pedersen conductances to be accompanied by an increase in the electric field, at least for moderate and large electric field value, a tendency which is also identified to some extent in the ratio of the conductances, which acts as an indicator of the energy of precipitating particles.
Key words. Ionosphere (auroral ionosphere; electric fields and currents)