RISR Observations of High Ion Temperatures: A Case Study

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Hassanali Akbari, Boston University, Boston, MA, United States
Incoherent scatter radars (ISRs) measure the frequency spectrum of the scattered signal from random thermal fluctuations in the ionospheric plasma. Once fitted to a theoretical model, the shape of the spectrum provides estimates to a number of plasma parameters including the ion temperature. The theoretical models of the frequency spectrum of the scattered signal have been often developed based on a set of assumptions on the state of the plasma. One of the most common assumptions is that the plasma is in thermal equilibrium consisting of electron and ion populations that can be described by Maxwellian distributions. Such an assumption, however, is commonly violated at high latitudes where the interactions between the ionosphere and the magnetosphere result in a very dynamic plasma environment. One example of such violations occurs on the edge of auroral arcs when the presence of strong electric fields (<100 mV/m) may cause the ion velocity distribution to deviate from Maxwellian. In such cases, the assumption of thermal equilibrium in the standard ISR fitting procedure results in significant errors in derivation of the plasma parameters. In this study we investigate an event in which the ion temperature measured by the Resolute Bay incoherent scatter radar (RISR) reaches to values as high as 8000 (K). Based on RISR measurements of the electric fields we calculate the expected Joule heating and investigate the possible role of ISR misfitting (caused by deviation of the ion distribution from Maxwellian) in over estimating the ion temperature.