All Physics Faculty Publications

Radar studies of mid-latitude ionospheric plasma drifts

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Geophysical Research Letters




American Geophysical Union

Publication Date


First Page



We use incoherent scatter radar measurements from Millstone Hill and Saint Santin to study the midlatitude F region electrodynamic plasma drifts during geomagnetically quiet and active periods. We present initially a local time, season, and solar flux dependent analytical model of the quiet time zonal and meridional E × B drifts over these stations. We discuss, for the first time, the Saint Santin drift patterns during solar maximum. We have used these quiet time models to extract the geomagnetic perturbation drifts which were modeled as a function of the time history of the auroral electrojet indices. Our results illustrate the evolution of the disturbance drifts driven by the combined effects of prompt penetration and longer lasting perturbation electric fields. The meridional electrodynamic disturbance drifts have largest amplitudes in the midnight-noon sector. The zonal drifts are predominantly westward, with largest amplitudes in the dusk-midnight sector and, following a decrease in the high-latitude convection, they decay more slowly than the meridional drifts. The prompt penetration and steady state zonal disturbance drifts derived from radar measurements are in good agreement with results obtained from both the ion drift meter data on board the Dynamics Explorer 2 (DE 2) satellite and from the Rice Convection Model.