Thermosphere UFKW Structures and Ionosphere Coupling as Observed by ICON

Jeffrey M. Forbes, Xiaoli Zhang, Christoph R. Englert, Roderick Heelis, Michael H. Stevens, Brian J. Harding, John M. Harlander, Kenneth D. Marr, Jonathan J. Makela, Thomas J. Immel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two ∼2-week Ultra-Fast Kelvin Wave (UFKW) events centered on days 158(203) during 2021 are investigated using winds, temperatures, plasma drifts and electron densities (Ne) measured by the Ionospheric CONnections (ICON) mission. Eastward-propagating longitudinal wave-1 (s = −1) structures with periods 2.5–4.0d, thought to mainly reflect Ultra-Fast Kelvin waves (UFKWs), reveal ±45 ms−1 zonal winds (U) at 100 km for both events. Height-latitude structures of the 3.0(3.5)d-period UFKWs are obtained for the first time for both temperature (T, 94–120 km) and U (94–280 km) between 12°S and 39°N latitude. Maximum values of 36(29) ms−1 for U and 12(15)K for T occur at 102(106) km altitude and within ±3° latitude. The U-T peak height displacement remains unexplained. Vertical wavelengths are in the range 36–43 km for both U and T during both events. Concurrent with the E-region dynamo winds, topside (580 km) F-region field-aligned (±20–40 ms−1), meridional (±5–10 ms−1) and vertical (±5–10 ms−1) drift and Ne (±20–40%) 2.5–4.0d s = −1 variations are also measured. These key elements of atmosphere-ionosphere (A-I) coupling, contemporaneously measured for the first time, are relevant to testing the internal consistency of A-I models. The mean wind propagation environment of the UFKWs is also quantified, showing no appreciable effects on the UFKW structures, consistent with modeling and theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2023GL105975
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 28 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • coupling
  • ICON
  • ionosphere
  • thermosphere
  • UFKW

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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