Fabry-Perot interferometer observations of the thermospheric O I (6300 A) emission have been conducted from an airglow observatory at a dark field site in the southeastern Yukon Territory, Canada, for the period November 1991 to April 1993. The experiment operated in unattended, remote fashion, has resulted in a substantial data set from which mean neutral winds have been determined. Dependent upon geomagnetic activity, the nocturnal location of the site is either equatorward of the auroral oval or within oval boundaries. The data set is rich enough to permit hourly binning of neutral winds based upon the K(sub p) geomagnetic disturbance index as well as the season. For cases of low geomagnetic activity the averaged vector horizontal neutral wind exhibits the characteristics of a midlatitude site displaying antisunward pressure-gradient-driven winds. As the geomagnetic activity rises in the late afternoon and evening winds slowly rotate sunward in an anticlockwise direction, initially remaining near 100 m/s in speed but eventually increasing to 300 m/s for K(sub p) greater than 5. For the higher levels of activity the observed neutral wind flow pattern resembles a higher-latitude polar cap pattern characterized by ion drag forcing of thermospheric neutral gases. In addition, rotational Coriolis forcing on the dusk side enhances the ion drag forcing, resulting in dusk winds which trace out the clockwise dusk cell plasma flow. On the dawn side the neutral winds also rotate in an anticlockwise direction as the strength of geomagnetic disturbances increase. Since the site is located at a transition latitude between the midlatitude and the polar cap the data set provides a sensitive test for general circulation models which attempt to parameterize the contribution of magnetospheric processes. A comparison with the Vector Spherical Harmonic (VSH) model indicates several regions of poor correspondence for December solstice conditions but reasonable agreement for the vernal equinox.
Meteorology and Climatology
Journal of Geophysical Research (ISSN 0148-0227); 101; A1; 241-259