Radar observations of auroral electrojet currents


  • R. A. Greenwald,

  • W. L. Ecklund,

  • B. B. Balsley


Radar auroral backscatter as observed with a 50-MHz radar is compared with electrojet currents deduced from a set of four Alaskan magnetometers. This comparison indicates that diffuse radar auroral irregularities are collocated with the currents to within the spatial resolution afforded by the magnetometer network. This result implies that radar auroral backscatter may be a useful new technique for monitoring the location and direction of electrojet currents. The significance of this spatial association is discussed in terms of the gradient drift and two-stream plasma instabilities. Some consideration is given to relating radar backscatter intensity and electrojet current strength.