Comparison of plasma drift modeling to DE 2 data


  • L. N. Carter Jr.,

  • D. N. Anderson


Nighttime zonal plasma drifts in the equatorial region are calculated from a simplified expression involving Pedersen conductivity, geomagnetic field strength, and zonal neutral wind, integrated along flux tubes between apex altitudes of 250–1500 km. The ambient conditions correspond to solar maximum at equinox over the American sector with vertical electron density profiles derived from average drift measured over Jicamarca. Plasma drift outputs from four neutral wind models are evaluated for overall consistency and compared to similar data from the DE 2 satellite collected during solar cycle 21 from 1.5 to 3 years after the solar maximum peak. Drift velocities are displayed to compare model output against the DE 2 measurements. Model inputs of solar maximum with vertical electron drift reduced to one-half average strength and a heuristically derived wind are found to give very good agreement with the DE 2 results. The implicit conclusion is that this final model is most representative of actual thermospheric winds for the conditions of near-solar maximum at equinox in the nighttime sector.