Articles | Volume 27, issue 7
15 Jul 2009
 | 15 Jul 2009

The sporadic radiant and distribution of meteors in the atmosphere as observed by VHF radar at Arctic, Antarctic and equatorial latitudes

P. T. Younger, I. Astin, D. J. Sandford, and N. J. Mitchell

Abstract. Results are presented of a study of the temporal and spatial variability in meteor count rate observations from three VHF meteor radars. These radar are located in the Arctic (at Esrange, 68° N), in the Antarctic (at Rothera, 68° S) and near the Equator (on Ascension Island, 8° S). It is found that for all three locations there is a strong diurnal cycle in observed hourly meteor counts and the time of maxima and minima in these counts depends on the month of the year. In addition, at high latitude there is a strong annual cycle in observed monthly-mean meteor counts, whereas for the radar at low latitude there is a semi-annual cycle. At high latitude there is also an annual cycle in the mean height at which meteors are observed. However, no such annual cycle is found in observed meteor count rates from the low latitude radar. The meteor count data from all the radars are combined to investigate the sporadic radiant distribution (i.e. the distribution of direction of arrival on the celestial sphere of sporadic meteors). This combined radiant distribution shows that there are six main source regions for meteors. The latitudinal and temporal dependence in observed meteor count rates appears to result from a combination of the sporadic radiant distribution, annual fluctuations in atmospheric density, the sensitivity of the radar to meteors from different source directions and the temporal and spatial variability in meteor fluxes.