The longitudinal morphology of equatorial F-layer irregularities relevant to their occurrence
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Determining the morphology of F-layer irregularities as a function of longitude in the equatorial region is vital for understanding the physics of the development of these irregularities. We aim to lay the observational basis which then can be used to test theoretical models. Theoretical models have been developed, notably in the papers by Tsunoda (1985) and by T. Maruyama and N. Matuura (1984). The question is whether the models are consistent with the morphology as we see it.
According to our criteria, the data used should be confined to observations taken near the magnetic equator during quiet magnetic periods and at times within a few hours after sunset. Anomaly region scintillation data have to be used in a limited manner for studying the generation mechanism.
The questions to be answered by proposed mechanisms are (1) why do the equinox months have high levels of occurrence over all longitudes and (2) why are there relatively high levels of occurrence in the Central Pacific Sector in the July–August period and in the 0–75° West Sector in the November-December period and (3) why are there very low levels of occurrence in November and December in the Central Pacific Sector and in July and August in the 0–75° West Sector.
In the paper by Maruyama and Matuura, the authors have taken observations of topside soundings of spread-F. With this data set in hand, they conclude: “During the northern winter periods, there is maximum enhancement at the Atlantic longitudes of large westward geomagnetic declination and during the northern summer at the Pacific longitude of large eastward declination”.
Tsunoda's conclusions from his use of scintillation data is that “scintillation activity appears to maximize at times of the year when the suset nodes occur”. The emphasis of one paper is on the maximum enhancement during the solstices and in the other paper on variations from the equinox as determined by latitude and declination. Each stresses certain characteristics of the morphology. While the two papers explain relatively different morphologies, each makes contributions. However there remain problems to be resolved before certifying a solution as to the physics explaining the longitudinal pattern of F-region irregularities.
Satellitein-situ data, scintillation and spread-F observations will be reviewed. The limitation of each data set will be outlined particularly as relevant to the bias produced by the existence of thin versus extended layers of irregularities. A cartoon as to the occurrence pattern, as we see it, as a function of longitude will be shown.
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