Propagation experiments providing scintillation, total electron content and drift data in the field of view of an all-sky imager near the magnetic pole in Greenland are utilized to investigate the manner in which ionospheric plasma becomes structured within the polar cap. It is found that under IMF Bz southward conditions, large scale ionization patches which are convected through the dayside cusp into the polar cap get continually structured. The structuring occurs through the E×B gradient drift instability process which operates through an interaction between the antisunward plasma convection in the neutral rest frame and large scale plasma density gradients that exist at the edges of the ionization patches. It is shown that with the increase of solar activity the strength of the irregularities integrated through the ionosphere is greatly increased. Under the IMF Bz northward conditions, the plasma structuring occurs around the polar cap arcs in the presence of inhomogeneous electric field or disordered plasma convection. In that case, the irregularity generation is caused by the competing processes of non-linear Kelvin-Helmholtz instability driven by sheared plasma flows and the gradient drift instability process which operates in the presence of dawn-dusk motion of arc structures. The integrated strength of this class of irregularities also exhibits marked increase with increasing solar activity presumably because the ambient plasma density over the polar cap is enhanced.
Society of Geomagnetism and Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences