Publications

2010
Cosgrove, Russell, M. J. Nicolls, H. Dahlgren, S. Ranjan, E. Sanchez, and R. Doe. 2010. “Radar detection of a localized 1.4 Hz pulsation in auroral plasma, simultaneous with pulsating optical emissions, during a substorm.” Annales Geophysicae 28: 1961-1979. Publisher's Version Abstract

Many pulsating phenomena are associated with the auroral substorm. It has been considered that some of these phenomena involve kilometer-scale Alfvén waves coupling the magnetosphere and ionosphere. Electric field oscillations at the altitude of the ionosphere are a signature of such wave activity that could distinguish it from other sources of auroral particle precipitation, which may be simply tracers of magnetospheric activity. Therefore, a ground based diagnostic of kilometer-scale oscillating electric fields would be a valuable tool in the study of pulsations and the auroral substorm. In this study we attempt to develop such a tool in the Poker Flat incoherent scatter radar (PFISR). The central result is a statistically significant detection of a 1.4 Hz electric field oscillation associated with a similar oscillating optical emission, during the recovery phase of a substorm. The optical emissions also contain a bright, lower frequency (0.2 Hz) pulsation that does not show up in the radar backscatter. The fact that higher frequency oscillations are detected by the radar, whereas the bright, lower frequency optical pulsation is not detected by the radar, serves to strengthen a theoretical argument that the radar is sensitive to oscillating electric fields, but not to oscillating particle precipitation. Although it is difficult to make conclusions as to the physical mechanism, we do not find evidence for a plane-wave-like Alfvén wave; the detected structure is evident in only two of five adjacent beams. We emphasize that this is a new application for ISR, and that corroborating results are needed.

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2007
Nicolls, M. J., C. J. Heinselman, E. A. Hope, S. Ranjan, and M. C. Kelley. 2007. “Imaging ofPolar Mesosphere Summer Echoes with the 450 MHz Poker Flat Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar.” Geophysical Research Letters 34: L20102. Publisher's Version Abstract

Polar Mesosphere Summer Echoes (PMSE) occur near the mesopause during the polar summer months. PMSE are primarily studied at VHF, however there have been some detections at higher frequencies. Here, we report on some of the first detections of PMSE with the 450 MHz (67 cm) Poker Flat Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR). Echoes were observed with volume reflectivities (radar scattering cross section per unit volume) near 2–3 × 10−17 m−1. On 11 June 2007, PFISR was operating in a 26‐beam position mode, with look directions spread over an approximately 80 by 80 km2 region at 85 km altitude with elevation angles as low as ∼50°. The measurements showed patchy (tens of kilometer) irregularity regions drifting in from the north, in addition to smaller, more localized structures. There was no evidence for strong aspect sensitivity of these UHF echoes, as PMSE was observed in all look directions with relatively uniform intensity. The observations indicate the presence of fossilized irregularities drifting with the background wind field as well as areas of developing irregularities possibly associated with the presence of active neutral air turbulence.

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