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Formation of a plasma depletion shell in the equatorial ionosphere

AuthorKil, Hyosub; Heelis, Roderick; Paxton, Larry; Oh, Seung-Jun;
KeywordsEquatorial ionosphere; plasma depletion shell; zonal shear flow

An accurate description of the irregularity region defined by a plasma bubble is critically important in understanding the dynamics of the region and its effects on radio scintillation. Here we describe a plasma depletion region as a \textquotedblleftdepletion shell\textquotedblright and show how two-dimensional optical images from space can be used to define the shape of the depletion shell. Our simple model calculation demonstrates that the space-based optical observation can detect the plasma-depleted magnetic flux tubes only near the F-peak height. The backward C-shape in bubble images from optical observations is the trace of the plasma depletion shell near the F-peak height. The westward tilt of bubbles at the magnetic equator can also be explained by this shell structure. The in situ measurement of the ion velocity at night in the topside shows the decrease of the eastward plasma drift with an increase of latitude. The formation of the plasma depletion shell is consistent with the latitudinal/altitudinal shear in the zonal plasma flow.

Year of Publication2009
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Number of Pages
Date Published11/2009