Obliquely propagating ion acoustic waves in the auroral E region: Further evidence of irregularity production by field-aligned electron streaming


  • J.-P. Villain,

  • C. Hanuise,

  • R. A. Greenwald,

  • K. B. Baker,

  • J. M. Ruohoniemi


Common volume observations of E region high-latitude irregularities at decameter wavelengths have been obtained with the JHU/APL HF radar located at Goose Bay, Labrador, and the SHERPA HF radar located at Schefferville, Quebec. In this paper, we analyze an event with characteristics similar to those of a distinctive type of event described by Villain et al. [1987]. The experimental configuration, which combines the azimuthal-scanning capability of the Goose Bay radar with the frequency-scanning operation of the Schefferville radar, has provided unambiguous evidence of the existence of two irregularity layers at different altitudes within the E region. The layers, which exhibit different characteristics, can be related to the action of the gradient drift and ion acoustic instability mechanisms. It is shown that the ion acoustic modes have phase velocities in the range of 400 to 550 m/s and are produced in regions of subcritical perpendicular electron Hall drift. We infer that the observed irregularities are produced through a combination of perpendicular and field-aligned relative electron-ion drifts. Features previously observed but not satisfactorily explained by perpendicular drift excitation alone can be understood in terms of field-aligned drift excitation. We conclude that the role of electron-ion field-aligned drift may be much more important than previously realized.