Observations of isolated polar cap patches by the European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) Svalbard and Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) Finland radars

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Abstract

[1] In this paper we present observations of the F region cusp ionosphere from the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) Finland and European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT) Svalbard radars in a new joint experiment. On 16 December 2002 the EISCAT Svalbard radar was operated in a fast elevation scan along beam 9 of the SuperDARN Finland radar, giving altitude/latitude profiles of the SuperDARN Finland backscatter volume every 2 min. Combining the two independent data sets, we monitor an isolated polar cap patch of high electron density (1011.5 m−3) that slowly formed in the dark cusp ionosphere during an interval of northward interplanetary magnetic field. The patch formed on a stirred lobe cell, excluding the possibility for solar EUV ionized plasma to drift in from the south. This data set represents an unparalleled example of patch formation within the polar cap, locally by particle impact ionization. After the interplanetary magnetic field turned southward and By changed polarity, the patch started to move poleward into the polar cap. Enhanced velocity gave rise to enhanced HF backscatter power and enhanced spectral widths, consistent with gradient drift instability as the formation mechanism of HF backscatter targets.

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