Reexamining X-mode suppression and fine structure in artificial E region field-aligned plasma density irregularities


Corresponding author: R. J. Miceli, Earth and Atmospheric Science, Cornell University, 3154 Snee Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA. (


[1] Artificial field-aligned plasma density irregularities (FAIs) were generated in the E region of the ionosphere above the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program facility during campaigns in May and August of 2012 and observed using a 30 MHz coherent scatter radar imager in Homer, Alaska. The purpose of this ionospheric modification experiment was to measure the threshold pump power required to excite thermal parametric instabilities by O-mode heating and to investigate the suppression of the FAIs by simultaneous X-mode heating. We find that the threshold pump power for irregularity excitation was consistent with theoretical predictions and increased by approximately a factor of 2 when X-mode heating was present. A modified version of the Another Model of the Ionosphere (SAMI2) ionospheric model was used to simulate the threshold experiments and suggested that the increase was entirely due to enhanced D region absorption associated with X-mode heating. Additionally, a remarkable degree of fine structure possibly caused by natural gradient drift instability in the heater-modified volume was observed in experiments performed during geomagnetically active conditions.