Articles | Volume 22, issue 3
19 Mar 2004
 | 19 Mar 2004

Auroral E-region electron density height profile modificationby electric field driven vertical plasma transport:some evidence in EISCAT CP-1 data statistics

T. Bösinger, G. C. Hussey, C. Haldoupis, and K. Schlegel

Abstract. A model developed several years ago by Huuskonen et al. (1984) predicted that vertical transport of ions in the nocturnal auroral E-region ionosphere can shift the electron density profiles in altitude during times of sufficiently large electric fields. If the vertical plasma transport effect was to operate over a sufficiently long enough time, then the real height of the E-region electron maximum should be shifted some km upwards (downwards) in the eastward (westward) auroral electrojet, respectively, when the electric field is strong, exceeding, say, 50 mV/m. Motivated by these predictions and the lack of any experimental verification so far, we made use of the large database of the European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) radar to investigate if the anticipated vertical plasma transport is at work in the auroral E-region ionosphere and thus to test the Huuskonen et al. (1984) model. For this purpose a new type of EISCAT data display was developed which enabled us to order a large number of electron density height profiles, collected over 16 years of EISCAT operation, according to the electric field magnitude and direction as measured at the same time at the radar's magnetic field line in the F-region. Our analysis shows some signatures in tune with a vertical plasma transport in the auroral E-region of the type predicted by the Huuskonen et al. model. The evidence brought forward is, however, not unambiguous and requires more rigorous analysis.

Key words. Ionosphere (auroral ionosphere; plasma convection; electric fields and currents)