On the height variation of the E-region cowling conductivity – effect of charged dust particles
Height profiles of the Cowling conductivity in the electrojet region, estimated using the atmospheric parameters given by the existing models like CIRA or MSIS and measured electron density profiles, consistently show the heights of the electrojet current intensity peak to be more than 3 km below those estimated from in-situ measurements using magnetometers on board sounding rockets. Kulkarni and Muralikrishna (2005) attempted to explain this to be due to the effect of neutral dust particles. They reported that neutral dust particles, when they exist in sufficient numbers, can modify the collision parameters, especially in the lower E-region, where dust particles of meteoric origin are known to exist in large numbers, and thereby can modify the Cowling conductivity profile in the electrojet region. This work is extended here to include the effect of charged dust particles. Dust particles can become charged negatively by the attachment of ambient free electrons, and can thus reduce the number density of free electrons especially below the electrojet peak. This can alter the vertical profile of the east-west Hall current driven by the vertical Hall polarization field, thereby causing a net reduction in the electrojet current. Such a decrease in the electrojet current may be observed on the ground magnetograms. This mechanism, as proposed here, can operate only during periods of strong meteor shower activity, when the dust particle density at the assumed deposit height of 103 km can reach extreme values (for example, 5×10 4 cm −3 of 1-µm diameter dust particles). Such a dense dust layer may even cause a reversal in the normally upward vertical Hall polarization field, within the dust layer, causing a reversal of the electrojet currents below the current peak.