Date of Award:

1996

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Physics

Advisor/Chair:

Jan J. Sojka

Abstract

Research over the years has established that the Gradient Drift Instability process causes small-scale irregularities, mostly along the edges of the high-latitude polar cap patches. Studying these irregularities will help in the development of a global Scale Ionospheric model, which is a central part of a global space weather forecast system. Much theoretical work has been done with varying degrees of complexity to study this instability in the high latitude patches.

In this work we have used the Utah State University Time Dependent Ionospheric Model to model the high-latitude patches, calculate the growth rate of the instability, and perform a macro-scale study of the phenomenon. This is the first time that real ionospheric values have been used to calculate the growth rate and to provide two-dimensional maps identifying Gradient Drift Instability-caused irregularity regions in the polar cap. Our research shows that regions of intense instability occur along the edges of the tongue of ionization and its throat regions with strong rates along the borders of the cusp region.

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