Gravity wave and tidal influences on equatorial spread F based on observations during the Spread F Experiment (SpreadFEx)
Abstract. The Spread F Experiment, or SpreadFEx, was performed from September to November 2005 to define the potential role of neutral atmosphere dynamics, primarily gravity waves propagating upward from the lower atmosphere, in seeding equatorial spread F (ESF) and plasma bubbles extending to higher altitudes. A description of the SpreadFEx campaign motivations, goals, instrumentation, and structure, and an overview of the results presented in this special issue, are provided by Fritts et al. (2008a). The various analyses of neutral atmosphere and ionosphere dynamics and structure described in this special issue provide enticing evidence of gravity waves arising from deep convection in plasma bubble seeding at the bottomside F layer. Our purpose here is to employ these results to estimate gravity wave characteristics at the bottomside F layer, and to assess their possible contributions to optimal seeding conditions for ESF and plasma instability growth rates. We also assess expected tidal influences on the environment in which plasma bubble seeding occurs, given their apparent large wind and temperature amplitudes at these altitudes. We conclude 1) that gravity waves can achieve large amplitudes at the bottomside F layer, 2) that tidal winds likely control the orientations of the gravity waves that attain the highest altitudes and have the greatest effects, 3) that the favored gravity wave orientations enhance most or all of the parameters influencing plasma instability growth rates, and 4) that gravity wave and tidal structures acting together have an even greater potential impact on plasma instability growth rates and plasma bubble seeding.