Articles | Volume 23, issue 6
15 Sep 2005
 | 15 Sep 2005

The effect of E-region wave heating on electrodynamical structures

J.-M. A. Noël, J.-P. St.-Maurice, and P.-L. Blelly

Abstract. We show that heating by large amplitude E-region plasma waves at high latitudes can at times substantially enhance the electro-dynamical response of the ionosphere. This is made manifest through an increase in parallel current densities and parallel electric fields generated at the edge of arcs in the E and lower F-region of the ionosphere, in response to sharp cutoffs in precipitation with an otherwise uniform differential energy flux. The enhancement is rooted in a reduction in electron recombination that occurs in response to higher electron temperatures triggered by the generation of strong electric fields near the edge of the arc. The reduced recombination rate, in turn, leads to enhanced conductivity gradients near the edge of the arc, which, in turn, drives more intense parallel currents and stronger local electric fields.

Keywords. Ionosphere (Electric fields and curents; Plasma temperature and density) – Space plasma physics (Numerical simulation studies)