Layered Polar Mesospheric Summer Echoes Observed with the Tri-Static Eiscat VHF

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Ingrid Mann1,2, Charles Anyairo3, Ingemar Häggström1 and Anders Tjulin1, (1)EISCAT Scientific Association, Kiruna, Sweden, (2)Umeå University, Physics Department, Umeå, Sweden, (3)Lulea University of Technology, Space Science and Technology, Kiruna, Sweden
Polar mesospheric summer echoes (PMSE) are strong radar echoes that are typically observed at 50 to 500 MHz. They are often discussed in the context of dusty plasma studies and linked to e.g. the existence of charged ice particles, neutral atmospheric turbulence and atmospheric stratification. The PMSE are observed at mesospheric temperature minimum when ice particles form, though the exact path of formation is still a topic for research. Mesospheric smoke particles that are assumed to form after or during the meteor ablation process possibly contribute to the formation of the ice particles.

For understanding the formation of the radar echoes their variation with scattering angle is an important parameter. We analyze PMSE observations with the tri-static EISCAT VHF radar (224 MHz) during one day in June when PMSE were observed almost continuously from 7:00 to 13:00 UT. The radar signal was transmitted and received in zenith direction with the EISCAT VHF antenna near Tromsø. The receivers in Kiruna and Sodankylä were pointed at typical PMSE heights above the Tromsø transmitter and detected radar reflections at the same time and altitude as the Tromsø radar. The altitude of the PMSE changed with time and the extension of the echoes in altitude was smaller toward the end of the observation. These observations are among the first tri-static observations of PMSE.

The observations suggest that the scattering process underlying the PMSE occurs over a broad range of scattering angles. Based on the observations we will show that the spectral width of the received echoes is most likely determined by the variations within the observed volume rather than by the scattering process. The observed frequency shifts suggest a layer structure and horizontal motions that vary with altitude. UHF (933 MHz) radar observations were carried out in parallel, they display predominantly incoherent scatter and an electron density typical for the altitude. Some other studies, have in contrast suggested that electron densities are reduced in the presence of charged dust components. We will further discuss this UHF result in regard to the incoherent scatter process. UHF and VHF observations above the PMSE reveal smooth ionospheric conditions and no evidence of precipitation events.