Letter | Published:

Joule dissipation in F-region and equatorial spread-F events

Nature volume 272, page 516 (06 April 1978) | Download Citation



The dissipation of turbulent electric fields varying with time, which are associated with spread-F in equatorial regions, has been thought to cause significant heating of the neutral atmospheric gases at F-region altitudes and higher1. The time-varying electric fields have been shown to exist during spread-F at Jicamarca2, and the two phenomena are known to occur with high probability in a latitudinal belt about 30° wide centred on the magnetic equator3. The theory of formation of large-scale field-aligned irregularities1 from which small-scale irregularities, as in spread-F, may develop5 suggests that if spread-F occurs, it will happen all along the magnetic tube of force4. This inference is consistent with the observations3 of ‘turbulent’ electrostatic fields from satellite OVI-17. We describe here recent experimental measurements of neutral atmosphere temperatures at F-region heights at Mt Abu (24.6°N, 72.7°E geographic; 15.0° geomagnetic latitude) which agree with the theoretical prediction of very great atmospheric heating in equatorial spread-F events1.

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Author information


  1. Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad-380009, India

    • , J. N. DESAI
    •  & S. S. DEGAONKAR
  2. La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

    • K. D. COLE


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