Journal cover Journal topic
Annales Geophysicae An open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Ann. Geophys., 20, 795-805, 2002
© Author(s) 2002. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
30 Jun 2002
The spectral characteristics of E-region radar echoes co-located with and adjacent to visual auroral arcs
S. E. Milan1, N. Sato2, M. Lester1, T. K. Yeoman1, Y. Murata3, H. Doi4, and T. Saemundsson5 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK
2National Institute of Polar Research, Tokyo 173-8515, Japan
3Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Tokyo 173-8515, Japan
4Tokai University, Kanagawa 259-1292, Japan
5Science Institute, University of Iceland, Reykjavik IS-107, Iceland
Correspondence to: S. E. Milan (
Abstract. Simultaneous all-sky camera and HF radar observations of the visual and E-region radar aurora in the west-ward electrojet suggest a close relationship between a pair of parallel east-west-aligned auroral arcs, separated by ~ 30 km, and a region of strong radar backscatter. Poleward of this a broader region of radar backscatter is observed, though the spectral characteristics of the echoes in these two regions differ considerably. We suggest that the visual aurorae and their radar counterparts are produced in a region of upward field-aligned current (FAC), whereas the backscatter poleward of this is associated with downward FAC. Relatively low electric fields ( ~ 10 mV m-1) are observed in the vicinity of the arc system, suggesting that in this case, two-stream waves are not directly generated through the electrodynamics of the arc. Rather, the generation of irregularities is most probably associated with the gradient drift instability operating within horizontal electron density gradients produced by the filamentary nature of the arc FAC system. The observation of high Doppler shift echoes superimposed on slow background flow within the region of backscatter poleward of the visual aurora is argued to be consistent with previous suggestions that the ion-acoustic instability threshold is reduced in the presence of upwelling thermal electrons carrying downward FAC.

Key words. Ionosphere (auroral ionosphere; ionospheric irregularities; particle precipitation)

Citation: Milan, S. E., Sato, N., Lester, M., Yeoman, T. K., Murata, Y., Doi, H., and Saemundsson, T.: The spectral characteristics of E-region radar echoes co-located with and adjacent to visual auroral arcs, Ann. Geophys., 20, 795-805, doi:10.5194/angeo-20-795-2002, 2002.
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