On the physical explanation of the Perkins instability

Qina Zhou, John D. Mathews

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Scopus citations


    Perkins' instability theory (1973) provides a reasonable theoretical explanation for the midlatitude ionospheric spread-F phenomenon. Although his derivation process and model are correct, the physical explanation provided can be improved. In this paper a plasma motion-balanced view of the Perkins instability is provided as an improvement to the Perkins force-balanced explanation. We derive the growth rate equation with neutral wind present and show that the new approach yields the same growth rate equation given by Perkins (1973) when the neutral wind is zero. Additionally, a new mathematical approach yields the same result and identifies the source term of the instability.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numberA12309
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
    Issue number12
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2006

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Geophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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