Comparison of plasma flow velocities determined by the ionosonde Doppler drift technique, SuperDARN radars, and patch motion


  • I. F. Grant,

  • J. W. MacDougall,

  • J. M. Ruohoniemi,

  • W. A. Bristow,

  • G. J. Sofko,

  • J. A. Koehler,

  • D. Danskin,

  • D. André


We compare measurements of polar cap ionospheric plasma flow over Resolute Bay, Canada, made by a digital ionosonde using the Doppler drift technique with simultaneous measurements at the same location made by the first operational pair of SuperDARN HF radars. During the 3-hour comparison interval the flow varied widely in direction and from 100 to 600 m/s in speed. The two measurement techniques show very good agreement for both the speed and direction of flow for nearly all of the samples in the interval. The difference between the velocities determined by the two techniques has a scatter of about ±35° in direction and ±30% in speed, with no systematic difference above the level of the scatter. The few samples which strongly disagreed were usually associated with strong spatial structure in the flow pattern measured by SuperDARN in the vicinity of the comparison point. The drift speed measured by the ionosonde was independently verified by observing the time taken for polar cap F layer ionization patches to drift between ionosondes sited at Eureka and Resolute Bay. These results confirm that the speed and direction of the polar cap ionospheric convection can be reliably monitored by the ionosonde Doppler drift technique.