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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 30, issue 1
Ann. Geophys., 30, 221–233, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 30, 221–233, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 18 Jan 2012

Regular paper | 18 Jan 2012

HF radar observations of ionospheric backscatter during geomagnetically quiet periods

T. A. Kane1, R. A. Makarevich2, and J. C. Devlin3 T. A. Kane et al.
  • 1Department of Physics, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, 3086, Australia
  • 2Geophysical Institute and Department of Physics, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, 99775-7320, USA
  • 3Department of Electronic Engineering, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, 3086, Australia

Abstract. The quiet-time coherent backscatter from the F-region observed by the Tasman International Geospace Environment Radar (TIGER) Bruny Island HF radar is analysed statistically in order to determine typical trends and controlling factors in the ionospheric echo occurrence. A comparison of the F-region peak density values from the IRI-2007 model and ionosonde measurements in the vicinity of the radar's footprint shows a very good agreement, particularly at subauroral and auroral latitudes, and model densities within the radar's footprint are used in the following analyses. The occurrence of F-region backscatter is shown to exhibit distinct diurnal, seasonal and solar cycle variations and these are compared with model trends in the F-region peak electron density and Pedersen conductance of the underlying ionosphere. The solar cycle effects in occurrence are demonstrated to be strong and more complex than a simple proportionality on a year-to-year basis. The diurnal and seasonal effects are strongly coupled to each other, with diurnal trends exhibiting a systematic gradual variation from month to month that can be explained when both electron density and conductance trends are considered. During the night, the echo occurrence is suggested to be controlled directly by the density conditions, with a direct proportionality observed between the occurrence and peak electron density. During the day, the echo occurrence appears to be controlled by both conductance and propagation conditions. It is shown that the range of echo occurrence values is smaller for larger conductances and that the electron density determines what value the echo occurrence takes in that range. These results suggest that the irregularity production rates are significantly reduced by the highly conducting E layer during the day while F-region density effects dominate during the night.

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