Open Access

Turbulence-induced fluctuations in ionization and application to PMSE

  • R. J. Hill1Email author,
  • D. E. Gibson-Wilde2,
  • J. A. Werne2 and
  • D. C. Fritts2
Earth, Planets and Space201451:BF03353211

DOI: 10.1186/BF03353211

Received: 24 August 1998

Accepted: 5 March 1999

Published: 26 June 2014


The temporal evolution of a turbulent layer is calculated in detail by solving the hydrodynamic equations. The turbulence is initiated by a Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. The field of potential-temperature fluctuations serves as a tracer for modeling entrainment of the mixing ratios of ionized constituents hypothesized to be present in the upper polar mesosphere. This entrainment modeling provides the input to a turbulence advection model capable of calculating the spectra and cospectra of ions and electrons. The turbulence advection model is used as a subgrid-scale model and is required because, given present or foreseeable computer capabilities, numerical solutions cannot span the enormous range of spatial scales from the depth of the shear layer to the smallest scales on which the most massive ions diffuse. The power spectrum of electron number-density fluctuations obtained from the turbulence advection model is compared with that measured by a rocket during the STATE (Structure and Atmospheric Turbulence Environment) experiment; agreement is found for a case of massive ions. The radar cross section for Bragg scattering is calculated from the electron number-density power spectrum and is used to calculate the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) for the Poker Flat 50 MHz radar. The resultant S/N is then compared with the radar measurements obtained during the STATE experiment. These comparisons support the hypothesis that massive ions can cause polar mesosphere summer echoes from turbulent layers. Large-scale morphology of the turbulent layer obtained from rocket and radar measurements is reproduced by the hydrodynamic solution.