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  • Article
  • Open Access

Conductivity, electric field and electron drift velocity within the equatorial electrojet

Earth, Planets and Space200658:BF03352612

  • Received: 6 June 2005
  • Accepted: 5 April 2006
  • Published:


Rocket-borne in-situ measurements of electron density and current density made from Thumba, India, on four occasions between 1966 and 1973 and on one flight from Peru in 1965 are studied along with the corresponding ground magnetometer data. The Cowling conductivity is computed using the yearly mean magnetic field values of 1965 and the atmospheric density values from the MSIS 1986 model. The rocket-borne measurements from Thumba cover different geophysical conditions of strong, moderate and partial counter-electrojet events. The vertical profiles of the measured current density and electron density are presented along with the computed Cowling conductivity, electron drift velocity and electric field. The peak current density occurred at 106–107 km over Thumba and at 109 km over Peru compared to 104 km over Brazil. Cowling conductivity peaks occurred at 102 km over Huancayo and 101 km over Thumba, while electron drift velocity and electric field peaks occurred at approximately 105–107 km over Thumba, 108 and 110 km over Huancayo and 104 km over Brazil, respectively. While the electron density near the level of peak current density shows some variability, electron drift velocity and electric field show large variability. We conclude that the local electric field plays an important role in the spatial and temporal variability of the strength of the electrojet.

Key words

  • Equatorial electrojet
  • equatorial ionosphere