Radar Studies of Height-Dependent Equatorial F region Vertical and Zonal Plasma Drifts

S. A. Shidler, F. S. Rodrigues, B. G. Fejer, M. A. Milla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We present the results of an analysis of long-term measurements of ionospheric F region E × B plasma drifts in the American/Peruvian sector. The analysis used observations made between 1986 and 2017 by the incoherent scatter radar of the Jicamarca Radio Observatory. Unlike previous studies, we analyzed both vertical and zonal components of the plasma drifts to derive the geomagnetically quiet time climatological variation of the drifts as a function of height and local time. We determine the average behavior of the height profiles of the drifts for different seasons and distinct solar flux conditions. Our results show good agreement with previous height-averaged climatological results of vertical and zonal plasma drifts, despite that they are obtained from different sets of measurements. More importantly, our results quantify average height variations in the drifts. The results show, for example, the solar flux control over the height variation of the vertical drifts. The results also show the weak dependence of the daytime zonal drift profiles on solar and seasonal variations. We quantify the effects of seasonal and solar flux variations on the morphology of the vertical shear in the zonal plasma drifts associated with the evening plasma vortex. Assuming interchangeability between local time and longitude, we tested the curl-free condition for the F region electric fields with very good results for all seasons and solar flux conditions. We envision the use of our results to aid numerical modeling of ionospheric electrodynamics and structuring and to assist with the interpretation of satellite observations of low-latitude plasma drifts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2058-2071
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • drifts
  • electric fields
  • equatorial
  • ionosphere
  • radar


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