Incoherent scatter observations of thin ionization layers at Sondrestrom

W. A. Bristow, B. J. Watkins

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High resolution incoherent-scatter observations of E-region thin (1-3 km) metallic ion layers are presented. Data were collected during three different periods from August 1990 to August 1991, in three different experimental modes. First, the antenna was directed vertically and the entire duty cycle was devoted to Barker coded multi-pulse [Zamlutti (1980) J. atmos. terr. Phys. 42, 975-982] measurements to determine the densities and temperatures in the E-region with 300 m resolution. The second experiment measured the F-region electric field as well as the high resolution E-region densities. For the third experiment the antenna was scanned magnetic north-south while only the E-region densities were measured. The experiments were carried out on 16 different nights for a period of 4 h each night at a time near magnetic midnight. Thin ionization layers were observed on 12 of the 16 nights. The first experiment demonstrated that the thin layers are composed of a significant fraction of heavy metallic ions; assuming the layers are composed of a mixture of Fe+ and Mg+ a composition estimate of 63% Fe+ was obtained in one example. The second experiment investigated the relationship between the direction of the electric field and the presence of the thin layers. In these observations thin layers were only present when the electric field was pointed in the magnetic north-west or south-west quadrants, most frequently when the field was near magnetic west. Correlation between layer altitude and field direction was also observed, layers occurring at higher altitudes for fields directed in the north-west, and lower altitudes for fields directed to the south-west. The observations are compatible with the electric field mechanism for thin ionization layer formation. The scanning experiment showed that the layers were of a limited latitudinal extent, typically about 100 km up to a maximum of about 200 km.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)873-885,887-894
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Geophysics
  • General Engineering
  • Atmospheric Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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