Comparing Auroral Far Ultraviolet Images and Coincident Ionosonde Observations of the Auroral E Region

Friday, 19 December 2014
Harold K Knight Jr, Computational Physics, Inc., Springfield, VA, United States, Ivan A Galkin, Univ Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA, United States and Bodo W Reinisch, Lowell Digisonde International, Lowell, MA, United States
Comparisons are being made between auroral ionospheric E region parameters derived from two types of observations: satellite-based far ultraviolet (FUV) imagers and ground-based ionosondes. The FUV imagers are: 1) NASA's Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics Global Ultraviolet Imager (TIMED/GUVI) and 2) DMSP's Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imager (SSUSI). The ionosondes are five high latitude Digisondes included in the Global Ionospheric Radio Observatory (GIRO) (Reinisch and Galkin, EPS, 2011). The purpose of the comparisons is to determine whether auroral FUV remote sensing algorithms that derive E region parameters from Lyman-Birge-Hopfield (LBH) emissions are biased in the presence of proton aurora. Earlier comparisons between FUV images and in situ auroral particle flux observations (e.g., Knight et al., JGR, 2012) indicate that proton aurora is much more efficient than electron aurora in producing LBH emission, and to be consistent with these findings the FUV-ionosonde comparisons would have to show that auroral FUV-derived NmE (maximum E region electron density) is biased high in the presence of proton precipitation.

The advantage of making comparisons with Digisonde observations of the E region (as opposed to incoherent scatter radar) is that Digisondes remain in operation continuously over extended periods of time (i.e. years) and record observations every few minutes, making it possible to gather large numbers of FUV image-coincident observations for statistical studies. The subject of how to interpret auroral E region traces in ionograms has not been studied much up to now, however, and we are making progress in that area. We have found that a modified version of the rules from Piggott and Rawer, U.R.S.I. Handbook of Ionogram Interpretation and Reduction(1972) gives a large number of usable ionograms and good correlation with auroral FUV observations.

The figure shows an example of an auroral FUV image with the locations of the ionosonde stations overplotted as blue stars.