F-region ionospheric irregularities over King George Island and Argentine Islands – a comparative study

Spread-F is caused by the presence of ionospheric electron concentration irregularities of scale-size of order 5 km at F-region altitudes. Estimates of spread-F in the vicinity of the maximum plasma frequency of the Flayer (foF2) have been determined at 15 min intervals from ionograms recorded over a ten day period (1–10 May 1986) both at Marsh (62.2°S, 58.9°W), King George Island, and Faraday (65.2°S, 64.3°W), Argentine Islands. The interval, at low solar activity, includes periods of quiet and disturbed geomagnetic activity. Spread-F is observed on every night at both stations. It is more frequent, slightly more intense and starts earlier at Argentine Islands than at King George Island. On most nights, spread-F ceases about local sunrise at 120 km altitude at both stations. On the days of highest geomagnetic activity, the onset of spread-F is delayed compared with days of lower activity. Spread-F is usually most intense on the night(s) following largest geomagnetic activity level, as measured by the geomagnetic index, Kp. The growth rate of the plasma instability processes causing the ionospheric irregularities is inversely related to electron concentration (foF22), amongst other parameters. Thus the lower foF2 values over Argentine Islands are consistent with more spread-F being observed by the higher latitude observatory. However, no firm relationship between the absolute value of foF2, the horizontal gradient of foF2 between the two observatories, and the onset of spread-F, is found. Thus it has not been possible to determine uniquely the instability process responsible for the formation of the plasma irregularities.


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Authors: Foppiano, A.J., Rodger, A.S.

1 September, 1994
Antarctic Science / 6
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