Effect of ionospheric depth on the ionospheric feedback instability: cutoff and subsequent E|| modes
- Center for Geospace Studies, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA, USA
Abstract. The ionospheric feedback instability (IFI), which involves feedback between ionospheric modifications and waves reflected off the magnetosphere, has up to this point been analyzed in terms of field line integrated (FLI) ionospheric quantities, that is, with the assumption that the ionospheric thickness can be ignored. In this work we test this assumption by solving the two-fluid equations for a representative ionospheric slab of finite thickness. We find that the results are for the most part incompatible with a description in terms of FLI quantities, and that their use can easily lead to an order of magnitude overestimation of the growth rate. This occurs because the first eigenmode, which is the one compatible with an FLI description, is cutoff above a certain frequency, leaving only higher order modes with wavelengths along B that are subsumed by the slab. Taking the results at face value, the parallel electric fields associated with the higher order modes are a possible contributor to electron heating and plasma structure in the E-region ionosphere.