The role of the tongue-of-ionization in the formation of the poleward wall of the main trough in the European post-midnight sector

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA02306
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberA2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2008
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A series of radio tomography reconstructions from the University of Wales Aberystwyth receiver chains in Scandinavia and the UK, imaging the midnight-dawn sector on 13 December 2001, reveal a persistent large-scale electron density enhancement, which forms the poleward wall of the main ionization trough. Measurements by the European Incoherent Scatter radar (EISCAT) rule out in situ soft-particle precipitation as the main source of the higher densities. SuperDARN plasma drift observations and electric potential patterns place the feature in the dawn cell of the high-latitude convection, leading to the conclusion that the higher density is likely to have originated as photoionization and was convected over the polar cap to the nightside and around toward dawn in a tongue-of-ionization (TOI). Suitable runs of the Coupled Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Plasmasphere (CTIP) model support this interpretation and also reveal that the formation of the TOI is heavily UT dependent, which would lead to it being most prominent at nighttime in the European sector.


  • Ionosphere, high-latitude, tongue-of-ionosation, post-midnight, trough, wall