Articles | Volume 26, issue 11
24 Oct 2008
 | 24 Oct 2008

The electron drift velocity, ion acoustic speed and irregularity drifts in high-latitude E-region

M. V. Uspensky, R. J. Pellinen, and P. Janhunen

Abstract. The purpose of this study is to examine the STARE irregularity drift velocity dependence on the EISCAT line-of-sight (los or l-o-s) electron drift velocity magnitude, VE×Blos, and the flow angle ΘN,F (superscript N and/or F refer to the STARE Norway and Finland radar). In the noon-evening sector the flow angle dependence of Doppler velocities, VirrN,F, inside and outside the Farley-Buneman (FB) instability cone (|VE×Blos|>Cs and |VE×Blos|<Cs, respectively, where Cs is the ion acoustic speed), is found to be similar and much weaker than suggested earlier. In a band of flow angles 45°<ΘN,F<85° it can be reasonably described by |VirrN,F|∝AN,FCscosnΘN,F, where AN,F≈1.2–1.3 are monotonically increasing functions of VE×B and the index n is ~0.2 or even smaller. This study (a) does not support the conclusion by Nielsen and Schlegel (1985), Nielsen et al. (2002, their #[18]) that at flow angles larger than ~60° (or |VirrN,F|≤300 m/s) the STARE Doppler velocities are equal to the component of the electron drift velocity. We found (b) that if the data points are averages over 100 m/s intervals (bins) of l-o-s electron velocities and 10 deg intervals (bins) of flow angles, then the largest STARE Doppler velocities always reside inside the bin with the largest flow angle. In the flow angle bin 80° the STARE Doppler velocity is larger than its driver term, i.e. the EISCAT l-o-s electron drift velocity component, |VirrN,F|>|VE×Blos|. Both features (a and b) as well as the weak flow angle velocity dependence indicate that the l-o-s electron drift velocity cannot be the sole factor which controls the motion of the backscatter ~1-m irregularities at large flow angles. Importantly, the backscatter was collected at aspect angle ~1° and flow angle Θ>60°, where linear fluid and kinetic theories invariably predict negative growth rates. At least qualitatively, all the facts can be reasonably explained by nonlinear wave-wave coupling found and described by Kudeki and Farley (1989), Lu et al. (2008) for the equatorial electrojet and studied in numerical simulation by Otani and Oppenheim (1998, 2006).