Steepening Plasma Density Spectra in the Ionosphere: The Crucial Role Played by a Strong E-Region
AuthorIvarsen, Magnus Fagernes; St-Maurice, Jean-Pierre; Jin, Yaqi; Park, Jaeheung; Miloch, Wojciech Jacek; Spicher, Andres; Kwak, Young-Sil; Clausen, Lasse B. N.
Based on the Swarm 16 Hz Advanced Plasma Density data set, and using the Swarm A satellite, we apply automatic detection of spectral breaks in seven million sampled plasma density power spectra in the high-latitude F-region ionosphere. This way, we survey the presence of plasma irregularity dissipation due to an enhanced E-region conductance, caused both by solar photoionization and particle precipitation. We introduce a new quantity named the steepening slope index (SSI) which we use to estimate the occurrence rate of break-points in sampled plasma densities. We provide an interpretation of SSI in the context of solar photoionization-induced conductance enhancements of the E-region. We present a comprehensive climatology of the SSI occurrence rate, along with statistics documenting characteristic high-latitude plasma density spectra. In the absence of steepening, the typical spectral index is 2.1. When density spectra steepen, the index is typically 1.6 at large scales, and 2.7 at small scales. We discuss the impact of high-energy deeply penetrating electron precipitation in the diffuse aurora, and precipitating electrons in the aurora at large. Here, a key finding is that near the cusp, where the F-region conductance is enhanced, spectra tend not to steepen. We find that both the diffuse and discrete aurora are modulating F-region plasma irregularity dissipation through an enhancement of E-region conductance, highlighting the role played by factors other than solar zenith angle in high-latitude plasma dynamics. The influence of E-region conductance on spectral shapes indicates the need for a new discussion of how particle precipitation can structure the local winter high-latitude F-region ionosphere.
CitationIvarsen M F, St-Maurice, Jin, Park, Miloch WJ, Spicher, Kwak, Clausen. Steepening Plasma Density Spectra in the Ionosphere: The Crucial Role Played by a Strong E-Region. Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR): Space Physics. 2021;126(8)
MetadataShow full item record
Copyright 2021 The Author(s)