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Ionospheric electron heating, optical emissions, and striations induced by powerful HF radio waves at high latitudes: Aspect angle dependence

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • M. T. Rietveld
  • Mike J. Kosch
  • N. F. Blagoveshchenskaya
  • V. A. Kornienko
  • T. B. Leyser
  • T. K. Yeoman
Journal publication date04/2003
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Original languageEnglish


In recent years, large electron temperature increases of 300% (3000 K above background) caused by powerful HF-radio wave injection have been observed during nighttime using the EISCAT incoherent scatter radar near Tromsø in northern Norway. In a case study we examine the spatial structure of the modified region. The electron heating is accompanied by ion heating of about 100 degrees and magnetic field-aligned measurements show ion outflows increasing with height up to 300 m s−1 at 582 km. The electron density decreases by up to 20%. When the radar antenna was scanned between three elevations from near field-aligned to vertical, the strongest heating effects were always obtained in the field-aligned position. When the HF-pump beam was scanned between the same three positions, the heating was still almost always strongest in the field-aligned direction. Simultaneous images of the 630 nm O(1D) line in the radio-induced aurora showed that the enhancement caused by the HF radio waves also remained localized near the field-aligned position. Coherent HF radar backscatter also appeared strongest when the pump beam was pointed field-aligned. These results are similar to some Langmuir turbulence phenomena which also show a strong preference for excitation by HF rays launched in the field-aligned direction. The correlation of the position of largest temperature enhancement with the position of the radio-induced aurora suggests that a common mechanism, upper-hybrid wave turbulence, is responsible for both effects. Why the strongest heating effects occur for HF rays directed along the magnetic field is still unclear, but self-focusing on field-aligned striations is a candidate mechanism, and possibly ionospheric tilts may be important.

Bibliographic note

Copyright (2003) American Geophysical Union.