Comparison of zonal neutral winds with equatorial plasma bubble and plasma drift velocities

Narayan P. Chapagain, Daniel J. Fisher, John W. Meriwether, Jorge L. Chau, Jonathan J. Makela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A one-year dataset spanning March 2011 to March 2012 of coincident observations of nighttime thermospheric zonal neutral winds, equatorial plasma bubble (EPB) velocities, and zonal plasma drifts is used to examine the relationship between the thermosphere and the ionosphere near the geomagnetic equator over Peru. Thermospheric neutral winds are determined by using a bistatic Fabry-Perot interferometer (FPI) experiment located at Merihill and Nazca in Peru. The ambient plasma drift velocities were obtained using the incoherent scatter radar at the Jicamarca Radio Observatory in Peru. The EPB zonal velocities were estimated utilizing images of the OI 630.0 nm emission recorded by a narrow-field optical imaging system at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. The joint analysis of these datasets illustrates that the nighttime and night-to-night variations in the zonal neutral winds, EPB velocities, and plasma drifts are well correlated. This consistent result of the local time variations of the neutral winds with that of EPB and plasma drifts illustrates that the F-region dynamo is, in general, fully activated. However, at times, the magnitude of the EPB velocities and the plasma drifts are different from the neutral winds. It is plausible that such a difference is due either to the effect of polarization electric fields developed inside the EPB or due to the latitudinal gradient of the neutral winds and EPB velocity measurements since the EPB velocities are estimated at a higher latitude, corresponding to an apex altitude of ~400 km, than the wind estimates, which derive from an apex altitude of ~250 km. Key Points Coincident measurements of winds, plasma drifts and EPB velocities.The consistent results of neutral winds with that of EPB and plasma drifts.It illustrates that the F-region dynamics is controlled by neutral winds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1802-1812
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • equatorial ionosphere
  • ionosphere/atmosphere interactions
  • ionospheric irregularities
  • ionospheric storms
  • planetary ionospheres

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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