Artificial ionospheric layers driven by high-frequency radiowaves: an assessment

Evgeny Mishin, Brenton Watkins, Nikolai Lehtinen, Bengt Eliasson, Todd Pedersen, Savely Grach

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High-power ordinary mode radio waves produce artificial ionization in the F-region ionosphere at the European Incoherent Scatter (EISCAT at Tromsø, Norway) and High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP at Gakona, Alaska, USA) facilities. We have summarized the features of the excited plasma turbulence and descending layers of freshly-ionized (“artificial”) plasma. The concept of an ionizing wavefront created by accelerated suprathermal electrons appears to be in accordance with the data. The strong Langmuir turbulence (SLT) regime is revealed by the specific spectral features of incoherent radar backscatter and stimulated electromagnetic emissions. Theory predicts that the SLT acceleration is facilitated in the presence of photoelectrons. This agrees with the intensified artificial plasma production and the greater speeds of descent but weaker incoherent radar backscatter in the sunlit ionosphere. Numerical investigation of propagation of O-mode waves and the development of SLT and descending layers have been performed. The greater extent of the SLT region at the magnetic zenith than at vertical appears to make magnetic zenith injections more efficient for electron acceleration and descending layers. At high powers, anomalous absorption is suppressed, leading to the Langmuir and upper hybrid processes during the whole heater-on period. The data suggest that parametric UH interactions mitigate anomalous absorption at heating frequencies far from electron gyroharmonics and also generate SLT in the upper hybrid layer. The persistence of artificial plasma at the terminal altitude depends on how close the heating frequency is to the local gyroharmonic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3497–3524
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number4
Early online date3 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2016


  • high power radio waves
  • ionosphere interaction
  • Langmuir turbulence
  • artificial ionospheric layers


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