Simultaneous observations at Darwin of equatorial bubbles by ionosonde-based range/time displays and airglow imaging



[1] Airglow observations of ionospheric electron density depletions made at Darwin, Australia have demonstrated that the tree-like structure of bubbles developed at the magnetic equator are mapped along magnetic field lines with considerable accuracy to the base of the ionosphere at higher latitudes. Ionosonde range-time displays made at Darwin and other equatorial sites in the Australian region show characteristic approaching and receding echoes which converge on a typical spread-F event. These off-angle echoes have often been referred to in the literature as satellite traces and associated with spread F with little recognition of their true significance. All four optical depletions previously reported in the literature as being seen at Darwin are found in this paper to be accompanied by such typical off-angle/spread F events. The zonal drift velocity of the moving reflectors can be measured from the speed at which such echoes approach and recede. Since digital ionosondes in equatorial sites have existed for many years, existing ionogram data, when suitably processed into range-time displays, may allow the occurrence of such events over several sunspot cycles to be found. A question remains as to whether all or only some of such equatorial range-time events correspond to electron density depletions.