Articles | Volume 29, issue 2
21 Feb 2011
 | 21 Feb 2011

Localized electron density enhancements in the high-altitude polar ionosphere and their relationships with storm-enhanced density (SED) plumes and polar tongues of ionization (TOI)

Y. Kitanoya, T. Abe, A. W. Yau, T. Hori, and N. Nishitani

Abstract. Events of localized electron density increase in the high-altitude (>3000 km) polar ionosphere are occasionally identified by the thermal plasma instruments on the Akebono satellite. In this paper, we investigate the vertical density structure in one of such events in detail using simultaneous observations by the Akebono and DMSP F15 satellites, the SuperDARN radars, and a network of ground Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, and the statistical characteristics of a large number (>10 000) of such events using Akebono data over half of an 11-year solar cycle. At Akebono altitude, the parallel drift velocity is remarkably low and the O+ ion composition ratio remarkably high, inside the high plasma-density regions at high altitude. Detailed comparisons between Akebono, DMSP ion velocity and density, and GPS total electron content (TEC) data suggest that the localized plasma density increase observed at high altitude on Akebono was likely connected with the polar tongue of ionization (TOI) and/or storm enhanced density (SED) plume observed in the F-region ionosphere. Together with the SuperDARN plasma convection map these data suggest that the TOI/SED plume penetrated into the polar cap due to anti-sunward convection and the plume existed in the same convection channel as the dense plasma at high altitude; in other words, the two were probably connected to each other by the convecting magnetic field lines. The observed features are consistent with the observed high-density plasma being transported from the mid-latitude ionosphere or plasmasphere and unlikely a part of the polar wind population.