Invited Topical Review
Auroral electrojet plasma irregularity theory and experiment: A critical review of present understanding and future directions
Article first published online: 20 SEP 2012
Copyright 1996 by the American Geophysical Union.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics (1978–2012)
Volume 101, Issue A12, pages 26893–26909, 1 December 1996
How to Cite
1996), Auroral electrojet plasma irregularity theory and experiment: A critical review of present understanding and future directions, J. Geophys. Res., 101(A12), 26893–26909, doi:10.1029/96JA02404., and (
- Issue published online: 20 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 20 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 1 AUG 1996
- Manuscript Received: 21 FEB 1996
We review the experimental observations of meter scale plasma irregularities in the auroral E region and the status of their theoretical understanding. Most of the experimental data is derived from VHF radar scatter experiments, but sounding rockets also provide crucial information not obtainable from radars. Linear theories correctly predict the altitude of occurence, strong magnetic aspect sensitivity, marginal instability, and typical phase velocities. Subsequent nonlinear theories have been developed to account for other observed features but with less satisfying application. Further understanding of auroral electrojet irregularities is impeded by precision limitations of existing instruments, by radar data which may seem incompatible, by the usually poor knowledge of the ambient conditions during these experiments, and by some confusion in the nomenclature (e.g. “type 2”) used to describe the irregularities. We hope to clarify some of these experimental and theoretical issues. We will discuss observational “facts” that need to be refined and point out weaknesses of existing theories or their common interpretations. Finally, we will outline some avenues for future experimental and theoretical pursuit.