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Journal of Geophysical Research





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Observations of optical emission intensities and incoherent scatter radar returns in the magnetic zenith were compared in a study carried out at Sondre Stromfjord (Λ = 76.1°) in Greenland. The results were used to test the consistency of a theoretical model of ion chemistry and optical emissions in aurora and to explore the accuracy of relations between optical measurements and the average energy of the incident electrons. The incident primary electron spectrum and its temporal variation were inferred from zenith electron density profiles from the radar. The inferred primary energy spectrum at the peak intensity of the event approximated a Maxwellian distribution of characteristic energy 1.3 keV accelerated by an energy increment between 2 and 5 keV. Average energies inferred from the radar electron density profiles, from the N2 + rotational temperature and the I(6300)/I(4278) ratio were in good agreement. The variation of the I(8446)/I(4278) ratio was studied and was found to be promising as an index of average incident electron energy. An empirical relation between this ratio and average energy was derived from the data. The observed values of I(4278) exceeded the theoretical values derived from the ionization rate profiles deduced from the radar data by a factor near 2.0. Observed electron density profiles and theoretical profiles calculated from optical data were in good agreement provided that the optically inferred ion production rates were reduced by the same factor of 2. This discrepancy is probably the cumulative result of small errors in instrument calibrations, viewing geometry, recombination coefficients and the excitation and ionization cross sections used in the model.


Published by American Geophysical Union in Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics. Publisher PDF available for download through link above.

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