Articles | Volume 31, issue 11
Ann. Geophys., 31, 2049–2062, 2013
Ann. Geophys., 31, 2049–2062, 2013

Regular paper 21 Nov 2013

Regular paper | 21 Nov 2013

Meteor smoke influences on the D-region charge balance – review of recent in situ measurements and one-dimensional model results

C. Baumann1, M. Rapp1,*, A. Kero2, and C.-F. Enell2,** C. Baumann et al.
  • 1Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 2Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Tähteläntie 62, 99600, Sodankylä, Finland
  • *also at: Meteorologisches Institut München, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Germany
  • **on leave to: EISCAT Scientific Association, Kiruna, Sweden

Abstract. This work investigates the influence of meteoric smoke particles (MSP) on the charge balance in the D-region ionosphere. Both experimental in situ measurements and a one-dimensional ionospheric model reveal a clear impact of MSP on the ionospheric composition of the D-region. The study reviews rocket-borne in situ measurements of electron and positive ion density, which show a distinct deficit of electrons in comparison to positive ions between 80 and 95 km. This deficit can be explained by the ambient negatively charged MSP measured simultaneously with a Faraday cup. The influence of MSP on the D-region charge balance is addressed with a simplified ionospheric model with only six components, i.e. electrons, positive and negative ions and neutral and charged MSP (both signs). The scheme includes reactions of plasma captured by MSP and MSP photo reactions as well as the standard ionospheric processes, e.g. ion-ion recombination. The model shows that the capture of plasma constituents by MSP is an important process leading to scavenging of electrons. Since Faraday cup measurements are biased towards heavy MSP because of aerodynamical filtering, we have applied an estimate of this filter on the modelled MSP densities. By doing that, we find good qualitative agreement between the experimental data and our model results. In addition, the model study reveals an increase of positive ions in the presence of MSP. That is primarily caused by the reduced dissociative recombination with electrons which have been removed from the gas phase by the MSP.