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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 29, issue 12 | Copyright
Ann. Geophys., 29, 2277-2286, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-29-2277-2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  16 Dec 2011

16 Dec 2011

Global variation of meteor trail plasma turbulence

L. P. Dyrud1, J. Urbina2, J. T. Fentzke1, E. Hibbit2, and J. Hinrichs2 L. P. Dyrud et al.
  • 1Applied Physics Laboratory, John Hopkins University, Columbia, MD, USA
  • 2Communications and Space Sciences Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

Abstract. We present the first global simulations on the occurrence of meteor trail plasma irregularities. These results seek to answer the following questions: when a meteoroid disintegrates in the atmosphere, will the resulting trail become plasma turbulent? What are the factors influencing the development of turbulence? and how do these trails vary on a global scale? Understanding meteor trail plasma turbulence is important because turbulent meteor trails are visible as non-specular trails to coherent radars. Turbulence also influences the evolution of specular radar meteor trails; this fact is important for the inference of mesospheric temperatures from the trail diffusion rates, and their usage for meteor burst communication. We provide evidence of the significant effect that neutral atmospheric winds and ionospheric plasma density have on the variability of meteor trail evolution and on the observation of non-specular meteor trails. We demonstrate that trails are far less likely to become and remain turbulent in daylight, explaining several observational trends for non-specular and specular meteor trails.

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