The existence of a month-long continuous database of incoherent scatter radar observations of the ionosphere from the EISCAT Savlbard Radar (ESR) at Longyearbyen, Norway, provides an unprecedented opportunity for model/data comparisons. Physics-based ionospheric models, such as the Utah State University Time Dependent Ionospheric Model (TDIM), are usually only compared with observations over restricted one or two day events or against climatological averages. In this study, using the ESR observations, the daily weather, day-to-day variability, and month-long climatology can be simultaneously addressed to identify modeling shortcomings and successes. Since for this study the TDIM is driven by climatological representations of the magnetospheric convection, auroral oval, neutral atmosphere, and neutral winds, whose inputs are solar and geomagnetic indices, it is not surprising that the daily weather cannot be reproduced. What is unexpected is that the horizontal neutral wind has come to the forefront as a decisive model input parameter in matching the diurnal morphology of density structuring seen in the observations.
Sojka, J. J., David, M., Schunk, R. W., and van Eyken, A. P.: Polar F-layer model-observation comparisons: a neutral wind surprise, Ann. Geophys., 23, 191-199, doi:10.5194/angeo-23-191-2005, 2005.