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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics






American Geophysical Union

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The Na density variations in the E region have been studied over the past few decades. Although considerable progress in understanding and in modeling the metal layer observations has been made, Na density features above 100 km have yet to be explained. Various studies have linked them to the Na+variations, a major reservoir for Na in E region. But the lack of comprehensive modeling investigations and of wind and temperature observations prevents further understanding on this important ion‐neutral coupling topic. In this study, we conduct a numerical simulation on the summer time Na density behavior in the midlatitude E region, where both the ion density and the neutral atmosphere are modulated by tidal and gravity waves. Simulation results show good agreement with Na lidar measurements and reveal that atmospheric waves can transport Na upward to generate Na layers and variations in E region considerably. The vertical wind component of the large amplitude tidal wave can extend the Na layer above 120 km into the thermosphere. The simulation also demonstrates that the modulation of large amplitude gravity (GW) wave can generate small‐scale sporadic Na layers (Nas) in the E region. Finally, eddy diffusion enhancement in the GW saturation process can significantly alter the Nas spatial and temporal structures.

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