Density enhancements associated with equatorial spread F
Abstract. Forces governing the three-dimensional structure of equatorial spread-F (ESF) plumes are examined using the NRL SAMI3/ESF three-dimensional simulation code. As is the case with the equatorial ionization anomaly (IA), density crests within the plume occur where gravitational and diffusive forces are in balance. Large E×B drifts within the ESF plume place these crests on field lines with apex heights higher than those of the background IA crests. Large poleward field-aligned ion velocities within the plume result in large ion-neutral diffusive forces that support these ionization crests at altitudes higher than background IA crest altitudes. We show examples in which density enhancements associated with ESF, also called "plasma blobs," can occur within an ESF plume on density-crest field lines, at or above the density crests. Simulated ESF density enhancements reproduce all key features of those that have been observed in situ.