Radar cross sections for mesospheric echoes at Jicamarca
Radar cross sections (RCS) of mesospheric layers at 50 MHz observed at Jicamarca, Peru, range from 10 −18 to 10 −16 m −1, three orders of magnitudes smaller than cross sections reported for polar mesospheric winter echoes during solar proton events and six orders of magnitude smaller than polar mesospheric summer echoes. Large RCS are found in thick layers around 70 km that also show wide radar spectra, which is interpreted as turbulent broadening. For typical atmospheric and ionospheric conditions, volume scattering RCS for stationary, homogeneous, isotropic turbulence at 3 m are also in the range 10 −18 to 10 −16 m −1, in reasonable agreement with measurements. Moreover, theory predicts maximum cross sections around 70 km, also in agreement with observations. Theoretical values are still a matter of order-of-magnitude estimation, since the Bragg scale of 3 m is near or inside the viscous subrange, where the form of the turbulence spectrum is not well known. In addition, steep electron density gradients can increase cross-sections significantly. For thin layers with large RCS and narrow spectra, isotropic turbulence theory fails and scattering or reflection from anisotropic irregularities may gain relevance.