Examining the Electric Fields of the Evening Equatorial Ionosphere When the Solar Terminator is Aligned and Not Aligned with the Magnetic Meridian

Monday, 15 December 2014: 4:45 PM
J Vincent Eccles, Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences, Logan, UT, United States
The electric field structure of the equatorial ionosphere near sunset has implications on the development of plasma irregularities. The details of the development of the electric fields are examined using a global ionosphere-electrodynamics model. The results of simulations of simplified conditions show the influence of the arrangement of the solar terminator with the magnetic meridian. The relationships of the Curl-Free mechanism, the Hall Current Divergence mechanism, and the role of the Equatorial Electorjet region control the magnitude and timing of the Prereversal Enhancement of the zonal electric field as well as its altitude profile above the F region bottomside. Realistic conditions for 'equinox' and 'solstice' solar terminator arrangments are presented.

The stability of the low-latitude ionosphere has a demonstrated relationship with the solar terminator alignment [Tsunoda, JGR, 1981]. The profile of the vertical and zonal electric field below the bottomside is then examined using the global model to explore the controlling elements of the electric field structure and the growth rates of the Rayleigh-Taylor instability and Collisional Shear instability.

Tsunoda, R. T. (1985), Control of the seasonal and longitudinal occurrence of equatorial scintillations by the longitudinal gradient in integrated E region Pedersen conductivityJ. Geophys. Res.90(A1),447456, doi:10.1029/JA090iA01p00447.