On the origin of mesoscale TIDs at midlatitudes
Abstract. A recent breakthrough experiment by Ogawa et al. (2009) showed that Mesoscale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (MSTIDs), a common phenomenon at midlatitudes, originate in the auroral zone as gravity waves. Curiously, however, the latter do not seem to be related to magnetic activity. These atmospheric waves are common at high latitudes (Bristow and Greenwald, 1996; Bristow et al., 1996), and we argue here that, as they propagate to lower latitudes, Joule damping reduces the gravity wave spectrum to waves suffering the weakest damping. The direction of weakest damping corresponds to the direction predicted by the Perkins instability (Perkins, 1973) for nighttime MSTIDs. The daytime features reported by Ogawa et al. (2009) are very likely due to classical gravity wave interaction with the F-region ionosphere.