Open Access

The seasonal and solar cycle variations of electron density gradient scale length, vertical drift and layer height during magnetically quiet days: Implications for Spread F over Trivandrum, India

Earth, Planets and Space201061:BF03352986

Received: 19 May 2009

Accepted: 15 September 2009

Published: 18 January 2010


A study has been carried out on the behaviour of electron density gradient scale length, L, vertical drift and layer height, around post sunset hours, during the magnetically quiet days of summer, winter and equinox seasons of solar maximum (2002) and minimum years (1995), using ionosonde data of Trivandrum (8.5°N, 76.5°E, dip = 0.5°N) in the Indian longitude sector. The results indicate a clear seasonal and solar cycle variation in all the three parameters. Further, the seasonal variation of equatorial Spread F (ESF) during the above period is examined in terms of the relative roles of L, the vertical drift and layer height (of the F layer) in the triggering of the collisional Rayleigh-Taylor instability. The results, show for the first time, that L also plays an important role, in controlling the quiet time seasonal and solar cycle variability of ESF; whereas in earlier studies this parameter had been taken to be constant. The detailed results are presented and discussed.

Key words

Equatorial ionosphere ionospheric irregularities plasma instability equatorial Spread F