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Journal of Atmospheric and Terrestrial Physics





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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Two radars were used simultaneously to study naturally occurring electron heating events in the auroral E-region ionosphere. During a joint campaign in March 1986 the Cornell University Portable Radar Interferometer (CUPRI) was positioned to look perpendicular to the magnetic field to observe unstable plasma waves over Tromsø, Norway, while EISCAT measured the ambient conditions in the unstable region. On two nights EISCAT detected intense but short lived (< 1 min) electron heating events during which the temperature suddenly increased by a factor of 2–4 at altitudes near 108 km and the electron densities were less than 7 × 104 cm−3. On the second of these nights CUPRI was operating and detected strong plasma waves with very large phase velocities at precisely the altitudes and times at which the heating was observed. The altitudes, as well as one component of the irregularity drift velocity, were determined by interferometric techniques. From the observations and our analysis, we conclude that the electron temperature increases were caused by plasma wave heating and not by either Joule heating or particle precipitation.

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