The Overturning Structure of Sodium Layer in Lower-thermospheric Region and Its Relevance to Ionospheric Field Align Irregularity (FAI) and Gravity Waves

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Xianghui Xue and Xiankang Dou, USTC University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, China
We report a surge-like overturning structure of the sodium layer in the lower thermospheric region (~110-120km) observed by a sodium lidar located at Haikou (20.0N, 110.3E), China. During 15:00UT ~ 15:30UT (Local time +8h), the sodium density shows an abrupt vertical increasing from ~100km to ~120km, and then falls down with a speed of ~2.5km/hr. The adjacent radio observations from COSMIC satellites and two ionosondes located at Fuke (19.5N, 109.1E) and Sanya (18.4N, 109.6E) indicate complicated ionospheric E region structures, i.e., multiple sporadic-E (Es) layers, covering the Hainan island region (18N-21N, 108-111E). Further more, a VHF radar located at Sanya (18.4, 109.6E) observed the field align irregularities (FAIs), which appear almost simultaneously with the surge-like structure of the sodium. The radar receiving SNR and the corresponding Doppler speed show a similar vertical increasing structure extending from ~100km to ~130km and the charged particles moving away (i.e., upward) from radar at the beginning of the FAIs and follows by descend-layer-like FAIs with a downward speed of 2.9km/hr. From these observational evidence, the surge-like structure of sodium layer is linked to the ionospheric E-region FAIs. We propose the possible process related to the formation of the surge-like sodium layer: the preexisted Es might provide a suitable gradient, and the gravity wave could trigger the K-H instability and push the upward moving of the charged particles, which are the source of Na+ and can be converted to Na through the chemical reactions. The investigations using the lidar temperature (35-55km), meteor radar wind (85-95km) and sodium column density and centroid height indicate that the gravity wave with period of ~4 hours and vertical wavelength of ~10km might be potential driver.