Articles | Volume 28, issue 4
16 Apr 2010
 | 16 Apr 2010

Storming the Bastille: the effect of electric fields on the ionospheric F-layer

H. Rishbeth, R. A. Heelis, J. J. Makela, and S. Basu

Abstract. We discuss different phenomena occurring during ionospheric F-region storms that in principle might be caused by electric fields and point out challenges that must be faced when considering the physical processes at work. We consider the transport of plasma across many degrees of latitude at sub-auroral latitudes, the origin of patches of so-called "storm enhanced density" at high mid-latitudes, and the very high reported heights of the F2 peak at low latitudes. We discuss the role that electric fields might play in changing locally the net production of ionization as well as transporting it. We suggest that the local change in ionization production should be considered as a more important process for producing plasma density enhancements than transport from a more remote source of enhanced density.