Omnipresent vertically coherent fluctuations in the ionosphere with a possible worldwide-midlatitude extent

Dorey J. Livneh, Ilgin Seker, Frank T. Djuth, John D. Mathews

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Scopus citations


    Incoherent Scatter Radar power profile observations at Arecibo, Millstone Hill, and the Poker Flat AMISR have revealed the continuous presence of Coherent Omnipresent Fluctuations in the Ionosphere (COFIs) with periods ranging from roughly 30 to 60 minutes and apparent vertical wavelengths increasing with altitude from tens to hundreds of kilometers. Upon high-pass filtering of the Incoherent Scatter Radar power profile and electron concentration data, the COFIs are seen unambiguously and ubiquitously in Arecibo results from 22-23 March 2004, 5-6 June, 21-25 September, and 17-20 November 2005, as well as Millstone Hill results from 4 October to 4 November 2002. The COFIs are strong throughout the F region, often spanning altitudes of 160 km to above 500 km, and are detected day and night in the F2 layer. In fact, the COFIs are seen at every time and altitude that there is sufficient plasma to detect them. The COFIs are also observed at Poker Flat, although the poor signal-to-noise ratio over segments of the data makes it difficult to determine whether or not they are always present. The consistent detection of the COFIs, along with the longitudinal alignment and large latitudinal spread of the observation sites, suggests that these waves are always present over at least North America. This phenomenon appears to have been reported in Total Electron Concentration (TEC) maps of the ionosphere over much of North America Tsugawa et al. (2007b) as well as in airglow images from Arecibo and many other midlatitude sites around the world. These observations give us insight into the horizontal properties of the waves. While Medium-Scale Ionospheric Disturbances (MSTIDs) are generally associated with aurorally generated acoustic gravity waves, the properties of the COFIs may suggest otherwise. We present other possible source mechanisms, notably a possible link to oscillations in the solar wind and magnetosphere. We have observed consistent fluctuations with periods of about an hour observed in magnetic field measurements taken at geosynchronous altitudes by the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES)-IO and -12 satellites, which may be linked to the COFIs. We give corresponding solar wind results from ACE and discuss possible coupling mechanisms.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numberA06303
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2009

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Geophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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