By modulating the the auroral electrojet it is possible to generate extremely low frequency (ELF) and very low frequency (VLF) radiation.

The electrojet is modulated by using a high frequency heater such as HAARP.

The Magnetosphere

The magnetosphere is the region of space where the Earth's magnetic field balances the pressure of the solar wind. The solar magnetic field is carried outward from the Sun and into the solar system by the solar wind. This wind is a plasma of charged particles that travels outward from the Sun at between 300 and 800 kilometers per second. When these charged particles encounter the Earth's magnetic field the vast majority of them are deflected around the Earth. This compresses our planet's magnetic field on the side toward the sun (day side), and stretches it out on the side opposite the sun (night side). This distortion of the Earth's magnetic field results in currents surrounding the Earth that change in response to variations of the solar wind. Some of these currents complete their circuit within the ionosphere and the particles associated with them produce the aurora, or northern lights.

The Ionosphere

The ionosphere is the region of charged particles surrounding the Earth that is created by the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. The ionosphere begins at an altitude of about 90km and continues upwards into space. Variations in the composition and density of the ionosphere with altitude produce regions where different physical processes are important. As these regions were discovered they were given letter names F, E, and D.

In addition to ionization from solar radiation, regions of the ionosphere known as the auroral zones experience substantial ionization due to particles that precipitate from space. These rings surround both polar caps at a latitude of about 65 degrees. The precipitation of particles in these regions produces optical emissions by the gases of the atmosphere. We call these emissions the aurora, or northern lights.


The Auroral Electrojet

It is within the auroral zones that the currents of the Magnetosphere complete their circuit. These currents flow down the Earth's magnetic field lines, through the ionosphere, and then up the field lines out into space. These highly conductive field lines carry electric fields from the magnetosphere into the ionosphere.

In combination with the Earth's magnetic field these electric fields produce several different types of currents in the ionosphere. One type, known as a Hall current, flows perpendicular both to the electric field and the magnetic field. The strong Hall current in the Auroral regions is known as the Auroral Electrojet and it can be extremely intense, especially when lots of bright aurora are being observed.

from:  Physics of the Ionosphere   see  for the complete article.

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  Simulations of ELF radiation generated by heating the high-latitude D- region

H.L. Rowland, Beam Physics Branch, Plasma Physics Division, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

By modulating the ambient current flowing in the ionosphere, e.g., the auroral electrojet, it is possible to generate extremely low frequency (ELF) and very low frequency (VLF) radiation. This ionospheric modification technique can provide such waves for probing both the Earth and the ionosphere- magnetosphere. The modification occurs in the lower D-region and can provide information about the ambient conditions in one of the least diagnosed regions of the ionosphere.

The electrojet is modulated by using a high frequency heater (a few MHZ) with the power modulated at the desired ELF/VLF frequency to heat the ionospheric electrons in the lower D-region. Figure 1a shows a sketch of the heater and heated region. The heated region is typically at 75 km (though this depends upon the carrier frequency) and can be 30 km in diameter and a few km thick. Viewed from above (see Figure 1b) the heated region is a roughly circular patch. The smoothness of the heated region depends upon the antenna radiation pattern as well as D-region conditions. The heating increases the electron-neutral collision rate which changes the conductivities. Since on ELF time scales the ambient electric field is constant, modulating the conductivity produces a current modulated at the same frequency. At these altitudes the conductivity change is predominantly in the Hall conductivity. If the ambient electric field, E, is in y direction, a time varying current perturbation is generated, j, in the x direction (Fig. 1b). The time varying current launches waves both up and down the Earth's magnetic field. In the simulations shown here, we start with a time-varying current and study the downward propagating waves and how they couple into the Earth-ionospheric wave guide.


The animations show 5 different representations of the same simulation. The simulation uses a time-varying current perturbation (1 kHz) in the D-region at 75 km. The current is in the magnetic east-west direction. The Earth's magnetic field is vertical. The simulation box is 1800 by 1800 by 120 km. Isosurfaces are shown for the absolute value of the horizontal magnetic field ABSB and of the vertical electric field ABSEZ. Also shown is the east-west magnetic field in the near-field BX1 and in the far-field BX2. Since the field amplitude falls off with distance, BX1 uses a order-of-magnitude larger isosurface value than BX2 to emphasize the field close to the site. The north- south magnetic field is shown in BY1 and BY2. These plots look slightly different from the absolute value plots where both the positive and negative surfaces were shown. Also BX and BY do have a different orientation of the their radiation patterns. The direction of the radiation is determined by the total horizontal field shown in ABSB and by the vertical electric field shown in ABSEZ. The radiation pattern in the earth-ionosphere waveguide is a combination of a linear dipole antenna and a right-hand circular antenna. At ELF frequencies because of low D-region absorption the dipole is dominant. The dipole radiates in the magnetic east-west direction.

Because 1 kHz is below cutoff the mode in the waveguide is a TEM mode. The mode consists of a horizontal B field perpendicular to the direction of propagation and a vertical electric field. With perfect conductors, the mode is uniform in the vertical direction. As the wave propagates in the waveguide, the top of the wave is approximately at the bottom of the ionosphere. Above the heated region, waves are also launched along the Earth's magnetic field. In the near-field ( BX1 and BY1) one can see the pulse being radiated downward. It strikes the ground and reflects back up to the ionosphere. Part of the energy propagates up the field lines into the ionosphere. This is the bubble seen rising up. The D-region is highly collisional and damps this wave. Looking at BX2 and BY2 one can see that the energy mainly stays in the waveguide. If one looks closely at the top of the wave in the waveguide the wave appears to be curved. The waveguide mode is coupling into the bottom of the D-region and driving a whistler mode up the field lines. The whistlers have a much lower velocity than the waveguide mode and can only propagate along the field lines. This acts to curve the top of the waves. These waves help form the bubble that propagates up the field line. Because of this, the diameter of the bubble is much larger than the heated region.

Above the heated region in ABSEZ one can see a pair of coils revolving around each other. These are the currents that flow up and down the Earth's magnetic field forming the current loops associated with the waves propagating up the field lines. Finally, EZ1 is a blow-up of the high-altitude portion of the vertical electric field for positive values of the electric field; the current loop is more clearly seen.

More details can be found in Rowland et al., JGR, 101, 27027, 1996 and Rowland, JGR, 104, 4319, 1999.

This work is supported by the Office of Naval Research and, in part, by a grant of HPC time from the DoD High Performance Computing Center at the Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground.