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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 20, issue 8
Ann. Geophys., 20, 1193–1201, 2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 20, 1193–1201, 2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  31 Aug 2002

31 Aug 2002

A model of mid-latitude E-region plasma convergence inside a planetary wave cyclonic vortex

S. Shalimov1 and C. Haldoupis S. Shalimov and C. Haldoupis
  • Physics Department, University of Crete, Iraklion, Crete, 710 03, Greece
  • 1permanently at the Institute of Physics of the Earth, Moscow, Russia
  • Correspondence to: C. Haldoupis (

Abstract. Recently, Shalimov et al. (1999) proposed a new mechanism for large-scale accumulation of long-lived metallic ions in the mid-latitude ionosphere driven by planetary waves in the lower thermosphere. In this mechanism, the combined action of frictional and horizontal magnetic field forces at E-region altitudes causes the plasma to converge and accumulate in large areas of positive neutral wind vorticity within a propagating planetary wave. The present paper provides a theoretical formulation for this mechanism by modelling both horizontal and vertical plasma transport effects within a planetary wave vortex, of cyclonic neutral wind. Non-steady-state numerical solutions of the ion continuity equation show that the proposed accumulation process can enhance the ionization significantly inside the planetary wave vortex but its efficiency depends strongly on altitude, whereas on the other hand, it can be complicated by vertical plasma motions. The latter, which are driven by the same planetary wave wind field under the action of the vertical Lorentz force and meridional wind forcing along the magnetic field lines, can lead to either plasma compressions or depletions, depending on the prevailing wind direction. We conclude that, for shorter times, vertical plasma transport may act constructively to the horizontal gathering process to produce considerable E-region plasma accumulation over large sectors of a planetary wave vortex of cyclonic winds.

Key words. Ionosphere (ionosphere-atmosphere interactions; mid-latitude ionosphere; sporadic E-layers) – Meteorology and atmospheric dynamics (waves and tides)

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