Relation of zonal plasma drift and wind in the equatorial F region as derived from CHAMP observations
Abstract. In this paper we estimate zonal plasma drift in the equatorial ionospheric F region without counting on ion drift meters. From June 2001 to June 2004 zonal plasma drift velocity is estimated from electron, neutral, and magnetic field observations of Challenging Mini-satellite Payload (CHAMP) in the 09:00–20:00 LT sector. The estimated velocities are validated against ion drift measurements by the Republic of China Satellite-1/Ionospheric Plasma and Electrodynamics Instrument (ROCSAT-1/IPEI) during the same period. The correlation between the CHAMP (altitude ~ 400 km) estimates and ROCSAT-1 (altitude ~ 600 km) observations is reasonably high (R ≈ 0.8). The slope of the linear regression is close to unity. However, the maximum westward drift and the westward-to-eastward reversal occur earlier for CHAMP estimates than for ROCSAT-1 measurements. In the equatorial F region both zonal wind and plasma drift have the same direction. Both generate vertical currents but with opposite signs. The wind effect (F region wind dynamo) is generally larger in magnitude than the plasma drift effect (Pedersen current generated by vertical E field), thus determining the direction of the F region vertical current.