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Journal of Geophysical Research





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Radar observations of ion velocities in the magnetic zenith over Chatanika, Alaska, were used to determine the geomagnetic meridional component of the thermospheric neutral wind. Corrections for molecular diffusion and molecular ion contamination of the pure O+ composition assumed for the ionosphere were included in the analysis. Comparison of the averaged diurnal variation of the meridional wind showed good agreement between the two measurement techniques. Good agreement was also found for several cases of simultaneous observations. The evidence suggested that differences were caused by gravity waves. The 7 years of radar meridional wind results were examined with respect to magnetic activity, solar cycle phase, and season. During the day, the meridional component is poleward with a maximum of about 65 m/s between 1400 and 1600 local time. During the night, the wind is equatorward with a maximum of about 175 m/s between 0200 and 0500 local time. This maximum occurs after local magnetic midnight, which is about 0130 local time. When the neutral wind is averaged for 24 hours, there is a large net equatorward flow. During periods of increased magnetic activity, the nighttime wind between 2300 and 0600 local time becomes stronger toward the equator. The average increase between 0200 and 0600 local time is about 100 m/s; however, on individual days it can be as large as 400 m/s. These data pertain mostly to equinox, but the few summer and winter observations in the data set differ in the manner predicted by theory. Comparison of these results with theoretical models shows good agreement at most times, but suggests possible heating poleward of Chatanika during the morning hours. Observed exospheric temperature increases support this hypothesis.


Published by American Geophysical Union in Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics. Publisher PDF available for download through link above.