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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 17, issue 2
Ann. Geophys., 17, 190-209, 1999
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-999-0190-6
© European Geosciences Union 1999
Ann. Geophys., 17, 190-209, 1999
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00585-999-0190-6
© European Geosciences Union 1999

  28 Feb 1999

28 Feb 1999

Global transport and localized layering of metallic ions in the upper atmospherer

L. N. Carter1 and J. M. Forbes2 L. N. Carter and J. M. Forbes
  • 1Center for Space Physics, Boston University, Boston, MA 02215
  • 2Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Campus Box 429, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80303-0429 USA

Abstract. A numerical model has been developed which is capable of simulating all phases of the life cycle of metallic ions, and results are described and interpreted herein for the typical case of Fe+ ions. This cycle begins with the initial deposition of metallics through meteor ablation and sputtering, followed by conversion of neutral Fe atoms to ions through photoionization and charge exchange with ambient ions. Global transport arising from daytime electric fields and poleward/ downward di.usion along geomagnetic field lines, localized transport and layer formation through de- scending convergent nulls in the thermospheric wind field, and finally annihilation by chemical neutralization and compound formation are treated. The model thus sheds new light on the interdependencies of the physical and chemical processes a.ecting atmospheric metallics. Model output analysis confirms the dominant role of both global and local transport to the ion's life cycle, showing that upward forcing from the equatorial electric field is critical to global movement, and that diurnal and semidiurnal tidal winds are responsible for the forma- tion of dense ion layers in the 90±250 km height region. It is demonstrated that the assumed combination of sources, chemical sinks, and transport mechanisms actually produces F-region densities and E-region layer densities similar to those observed. The model also shows that zonal and meridional winds and electric fields each play distinct roles in local transport, whereas the ion distribution is relatively insensitive to reasonable variations in meteoric deposition and chemical reaction rates.

Key words. Ionosphere (ion chemistry and composition; ionosphere-atmosphere interactions).

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