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  1. Abstract

    Aperture‐synthesis images of ionospheric irregularities in the equatorial electrojet are computed using multiple‐input multiple‐output (MIMO) radar methods at the Jicamarca Radio Observatory. MIMO methods increase the number of distinct interferometry baselines available for imaging (by a factor of essentially three in these experiments) as well as the overall size of the synthetic aperture. The particular method employed here involves time‐division multiplexing or time diversity to distinguish pulses transmitted from different quarters of the Jicamarca array. The method comes at the cost of a large increase in computation time and complexity and a reduced signal‐to‐noise ratio. We discuss the details involved in the signal processing and the trade space involved in image optimization.

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  2. Abstract

    Total electron content (TEC) and L‐band scintillations measured by several networks of GPS and GNSS receivers that operate in South and Central America and the Caribbean region are used to observe the morphology of the equatorial ionization anomaly (EIA), examine the evolution of plasma bubbles, and investigate the enhancement of L‐band scintillations that occurred on February 12 and 13, 2016. A few weak and short magnetic storms developed these days, and a minor sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event was initiated a few days before. During these unusual conditions, TEC maps reported a split of the otherwise continuous crests of the EIA and the formation of a large‐scale (thousands of kilometers) almost‐circular structure. The western part of the southern crest faded, and a north‐south aligned segment developed near the center of the South American continent, joining the north and south crests of the EIA, forming an anomaly that resembled a closed loop on the eastern side of the continent. Concurrently with the anomaly events, several GPS stations reported increases in the L‐band scintillation index from 0.4 to values greater than 1. We analyzed TEC values from receivers between ±6° from the magnetic equator to identify and follow TEC depletions associated with plasma bubbles when they reach different stations. Although the magnetic activity was moderate (Kp = 3°), we believe that the anomaly redistribution and the scintillation enhancements are not related to a prompt penetration electric field but to enhancing the semidiurnal lunar tide propitiated by the onset of the minor SSW event. We found that depending on the lunar tide phase cycle, the neutral wind's meridional component can augment sub‐km scale irregularities and enhance L‐band scintillations through the wind gradient instability when U·n < 0 or the action of wind gradients (U) within the bubbles. Our observations imply that the SSW event enables prominent changes in the thermosphere wind system at F‐region altitudes.

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  3. Abstract

    A solar eclipse is a spectacular phenomenon resulting from a Sun‐Moon alignment as viewed from the Earth. Eclipses have a great influence on the state of the ionosphere and trigger significant variations during this extraordinary event, as daytime sunlight turns to darkness and back again. Therefore, understanding how this dramatic solar‐lunar event affects the Earth's atmosphere is of enormous importance. In this study, we took advantage of the proximity of a 2 July 2019 solar eclipse to the equatorial ionization anomaly (EIA) in order to investigate EIA dynamics during the eclipse total obscuration as it made its first landfall over the South American continent. We found the following eclipse dynamic features (1) analogous to prior results at the EIA, a 57% enhancement of the total electron content (TEC) in the EIA crest during total obscuration in areas a few degrees to the north from totality; (2) a 35% TEC suppression along the path of totality to the south of the EIA (sub‐EIA) crest; (3) temporal and spatial extension of the southern EIA crest; (4) enhancement of the fountain effect and associated with it vertical plasma drift in the magnetic equatorial region; and (5) unusual observation of TEC bite‐out near the EIA crest prior to local eclipse onset.

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  4. Abstract

    The mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT) region is dominated globally by dynamics at various scales: planetary waves, tides, gravity waves, and stratified turbulence. The latter two can coexist and be significant at horizontal scales less than 500 km, scales that are difficult to measure. This study presents a recently deployed multistatic specular meteor radar system, SIMONe Peru, which can be used to observe these scales. The radars are positioned at and around the Jicamarca Radio Observatory, which is located at the magnetic equator. Besides presenting preliminary results of typically reported large‐scale features, like the dominant diurnal tide at low latitudes, we show results on selected days of spatially and temporally resolved winds obtained with two methods based on: (a) estimation of mean wind and their gradients (gradient method), and (b) an inverse theory with Tikhonov regularization (regularized wind field inversion method). The gradient method allows improved MLT vertical velocities and, for the first time, low‐latitude wind field parameters such as horizontal divergence and relative vorticity. The regularized wind field inversion method allows the estimation of spatial structure within the observed area and has the potential to outperform the gradient method, in particular when more detections are available or when fine adaptive tuning of the regularization factor is done. SIMONe Peru adds important information at low latitudes to currently scarce MLT continuous observing capabilities. Results contribute to studies of the MLT dynamics at different scales inherently connected to lower atmospheric forcing and E‐region dynamo related ionospheric variability.

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  5. Abstract

    We argue that combining a high‐power, large‐aperture radar transmitter with several large‐aperture receiving arrays to make a geospace radar—a radar capable of probing near‐Earth space from the upper troposphere through to the solar corona—would transform geospace research. We review the emergence of incoherent scatter radar in the 1960s as an agent that unified early, pioneering research in geospace in a common theoretical, experimental, and instrumental framework, and we suggest that a geospace radar would have a similar effect on future developments in space weather research. We then discuss recent developments in radio‐array technology that could be exploited in the development of a geospace radar with new or substantially improved capabilities compared to the radars in use presently. A number of applications for a geospace radar with the new and improved capabilities are reviewed including studies of meteor echoes, mesospheric and stratospheric turbulence, ionospheric flows, plasmaspheric and ionospheric irregularities, and reflection from the solar corona and coronal mass ejections. We conclude with a summary of technical requirements.

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  6. Abstract

    Jicamarca Radio Observatory observations and Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model with thermosphere‐ionosphere eXtension (WACCM‐X) simulations are used to investigate the effects of the 7 September 2005 X‐17 solar flare on 150‐km echoes, electron densities, and vertical plasma drifts. The solar flare produces a remarkably similar response in the observed 150‐km echoes and simulated electron densities. The results provide additional evidence of the relationship between the background electron density and the layering structure that is seen in 150‐km echoes. The simulations also capture a similar rapid decrease in vertical plasma drift velocity that is seen in the observations. The simulated change in vertical plasma drift is, however, weaker than the observed decrease at the longitude of Jicamarca, though it is stronger east of Jicamarca. The effect of the solar flare on the vertical plasma drifts is primarily attributed to changes in conductivity due to the enhanced ionization during the solar flare.

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  7. There are few observational techniques for measuring the distribution of kinetic energy within the mesosphere with a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. This study describes a method for estimating the three‐dimensional mesospheric wind field correlation function from specular meteor trail echoes. Each radar echo provides a measurement of a one‐dimensional projection of the wind velocity vector at a randomly sampled point in space and time. The method relies on using pairs of such measurements to estimate the correlation function of the wind with different spatial and temporal lags. The method is demonstrated using a multistatic meteor radar data set that includes ≈105meteor echoes observed during a 24‐hr time period. The new method is found to be in good agreement with the well‐established technique for estimating horizontal mean winds. High‐resolution correlation functions with temporal, horizontal, and vertical lags are also estimated from the data. The temporal correlation function is used to retrieve the kinetic energy spectrum, which includes the semidiurnal mode and a 3‐hr period wave. The horizontal and vertical correlation functions of the wind are then used to derive second‐order structure functions, which are found to be compatible with the Kolmogorov prediction for spectral distribution of kinetic energy in the turbulent inertial range. The presented method can be used to extend the capabilities of specular meteor radars. It is relatively flexible and has a multitude of applications beyond what has been shown in this study.

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