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The Condorequatorial spread-F campaign: Overview and results of the large-scale measurements

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Geophysical Research




American Geophysical Union

Publication Date


First Page



During the Condor campaign a number of instruments were set up in Peru to support the rocket experiments. In this series of papers we report on the results of the experiments designed to study the equatorial F region. In this overview paper we summarize the main results as well as report upon the macroscopic developments of spread F as evidenced by data from backscatter radars, from scintillation observations, and from digital ionosonde meaurements. In this latter regard, we argue here that at least two factors other than the classical gravitational Rayleigh-Taylor plasma instability process must operate to yield the longest-scale horizontal organization of spread F structures. The horizontal scale typical of plume separation distances can be explained by invoking the effect of a shear in the plasma flow, although detailed comparison with theory seems to require shear frequencies a bit higher than observations indicate. On the other hand, the largest-scale organization or modulation of the scattering layer cannot be explained by the shear theory and must be due to local time variations in the ionospheric drift or to gravity wave induced vertical motions. Using simultaneous rocket and radar data, we were also able to confirm the oft quoted hypothesis that rapid overhead height variations in the scattering region over Jicamarca are primarily spatial structures advecting overhead. The detailed rocket-radar comparison verified several other earlier results and speculations, particularly those made in the PLUMEX experiments. In particular, companion papers discuss and extend some of the PLUMEX results to include the role of anomalous diffusion (LaBelle et al., this issue) in the theory of equatorial spread F and to shed light upon the shallow spectral form often observed in the intermediate-scale regime (LaBelle and Kelley, this issue).

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