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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics


American Geophysical Union

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Near‐continuous electron density measurements obtained over a ∼3 year period, 2010–2013, using the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR) in central Alaska (69°N, 147°W) have been analyzed to quantify the properties of over 650 high‐latitude medium‐scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (MSTIDs). Our analysis focused on the altitude range 100–300 km encompassing the lower ionosphere/thermosphere and yielded first full seasonal day/night distributions of MSTIDs at high northern latitudes with mean values: horizontal wavelength 446 km, horizontal phase speed 187 m/s, and period 41 min. These year‐round measurements fill an important summertime gap in existing MSTID measurements revealing predominantly eastward wave propagation during the summer, while continued winter season observations agree well with previous reports of near southward propagating MSTIDs. Our 3 years of results suggest a cyclic change in the seasonal horizontal propagation directions that was found to be quantitatively consistent with critical level wind and dissipative filtering. Concurrent measurements of the vertical wavelength spectrum as a function of altitude also compared favorably in shape with that calculated using a theoretical dispersion relation (Vadas & Fritts, 2005, for the thermosphere, but with a higher mean value. Evidence supporting the systematic broadening and shrinking in the azimuthal distributions of the MSTIDs during the course of the year was also found, as well as an unexpected correlation between the MSTID propagation directions and the AE index, both of which are under further investigation.