Characterization and Assessment of Structuring Connected to Auroral Dynamics

Project Summary

Funded by the Research Council of Norway (Project number 326039)

Turbulent media exhibit a spatio-temporal randomness, or irregular character, and, in the ionosphere, the irregular structures in plasma density with scales shorter than a few kilometers are of particular interest for space weather applications. They can for instance disturb High Frequency (HF) radio communication, and degrade Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) signals.

Our key scientific motivation is to understand how and when these density structures occur in the auroral region, where they are known to be strongest. 

To address this challenging topic, we will take advantage of the new EISCAT_3D, a three-dimensional (3D) phased-array system currently under development capable of volumetric imaging, and of providing 3D vector measurements at unprecedented temporal and spatial resolution. EISCAT_3D observations will be coordinated with national and international research infrastructures, including high-resolution cameras, GNSS receivers, and sounding rockets, e.g., from the Grand Challenge Initiative mesosphere lower thermosphere.

We are developping measurement techniques for incoherent scatter radars allowing to monitor the meso-scale electromagnetic conditions in the auroral ionosphere and study the creation and evolution of density structures. Additionally, theoretical work and numerical simulations are conducted to validate and understand the observations, as well as to constrain the plausible physical mechanisms taking place. Altogether, the novel methods, observations and modelling work aim at resolving outstanding issues about ionospheric plasma structuring in the auroral region.

(Text adapted from the project summary on the RCN webpage)

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