University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy
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Robert Lysak

Resonant cavities and waveguides in the ionosphere and atmosphere
Lysak, R. L., and A. Yoshikawa, Magnetospheric ULF Waves, K. Takahashi et al. (eds.), AGU Monograph Series, American Geophysical Union, Washington, p. 289, 2006.

Abstract

The strong inhomogeneities in plasma parameters in the ionosphere and adjacent regions can trap waves in the upper end of the ULF range (Pc1/Pi1). The topside ionosphere is characterized by a rapidly increasing Alfvén speed with a scale height the order of 1000 km. Shear mode Alfvén waves in this region can be partially trapped at frequencies in the 0.1-1.0 Hz range. The same structure can trap fast mode compressional waves in this frequency band. Since these waves can propagate across magnetic field lines, this structure constitutes a waveguide in which energy can propagate at speeds comparable to the Alfvén speed, typically the order of 1000 km/s. Hall effects in the ionosphere couple these two wave modes, so that the introduction of a field-aligned current by means of a shear mode Alfvén wave can excite compressional waves that can propagate in the waveguide. In the limit of infinite ionospheric conductivity, these waves are isolated from the atmospheric fields; however, for finite conductivity, ionospheric and atmospheric waves are coupled. TM modes in the atmosphere can propagate at ULF frequencies, and form global Schumann resonances, with the fundamental at 8 Hz. It has been suggested that signals that propagate at the speed of light through this atmospheric waveguide can rapidly transmit signals from the polar region to lower latitudes during storm sudden commencements.