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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 20, issue 4
Ann. Geophys., 20, 487–499, 2002
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-20-487-2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 20, 487–499, 2002
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-20-487-2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  30 Apr 2002

30 Apr 2002

HF radar polar patch formation revisited: summer and winter variations in dayside plasma structuring

S. E. Milan, M. Lester, and T. K. Yeoman S. E. Milan et al.
  • Department of Physics and Astronomy, Leicester University, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
  • Correspondence to: S. E. Milan (Steve.Milan@ion.le.ac.uk)

Abstract. Three intervals of polar patch formation, as observed by the CUTLASS Finland HF coherent radar, are presented. Simultaneous observations from a vertical ionosonde located at Longyearbyen on Svalbard, situated in the dayside convection throat region, allow for F-region plasma structuring, leading to polar cap patch formation to be determined. Solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) precursors of polar patch formation are investigated with MFI and SWE measurements from the Wind spacecraft. We find that in the cases studied polar cap patches are formed in response to changes in the orientation of the IMF, especially in the By component. The resultant changes in the dayside convection pattern alter the source of plasma drifting through the convection throat region into the polar cap. When the convection flow is directed predominantly polewards, high density sub-auroral or mid-latitude plasma enters the polar cap; when flow is directed zonally, low density plasma entrained in the convection return flow replaces it. This mechanism can act to significantly structure the plasma density at sub-auroral or mid-latitudes as well as in the polar cap. In winter months, polar patches appear to be produced by depletions in an otherwise high plasma density tongue of ionisation. In summer months, patches are enhancements of an otherwise low density tongue of ionisation.

Key words. Ionosphere (ionospheric irregularities; plasma convection; polar ionosphere)

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