Welcome to our team’s webpage. We are excited about the opportunity to bring together an international team with different expertise to try to solve a 50+ year-old problem and at the same time explore the new “ignorosphere”, i.e., the low-latitude valley region. Visit our different pages, learn about what is currently know, our plans and progress.

Here is a summary of our proposal

The ionosphere valley region extends from the peak altitude of the daytime E-region electron density profile to the bottomside F-region, typically covering the 110 to 200 km altitudes. This is a region of complex coupling processes between the neutral and ionized components of the atmosphere as plasma consists in this region of magnetized electrons and ions transitioning from collision to magnetically dominated domains.  It is the effective boundary between terrestrial and space weather domains and is important for shaping the entire ionosphere. Yet it is one of the least understood regions of the atmospheric/ionospheric system. In the case of low magnetic latitudes, this region develops dynamical and chemical features modulated by a complex interplay of atmospheric and ionospheric processes. The low-latitude valley region (LLVR) has been mainly explored with ground-based radars. These have revealed the existence of strong irregularity structuring, the source of which as well as spatial, altitudinal, spectral, and temporal characteristics have been a long-standing mystery.  Despite this lack of understanding, researchers often use the Doppler shifts of daytime LLVR echoes to monitor equatorial F-region zonal electric fields, a key parameter necessary for understanding the entire low latitude electrodynamics.

Observing this region remotely has always been a challenge due, among other factors, to the lower ionization than the surrounding E and F regions. It also lies above the range of balloons and below the orbit of satellites. It is now timely to put a special effort into investigating this region since an increasing number of global observations from ground and space, as well as sophisticated modeling of the whole atmosphere are making rapid progress to characterize the near space environment.

In order to further our understanding of lower atmospheric forcing of the LLVR and, in turn, low latitude space weather, we propose to bring together a multi-disciplinary group of experts to contribute to the 4D (altitude, longitude, latitude, time) exploration of the region.  We will evaluate ground, satellite, and rocket observations as well as atmosphere-ionosphere coupled numerical models. In addition, since radar echoes can be used as responses of the different atmospheric/ionospheric drivers, expertise in plasma physics and plasma simulations is needed to connect the coupling processes with the plasma irregularities responsible of the echoes. In the process of understanding the echoes, we will improve the understanding of the region, since the required information, e.g., gravity wave forcing, is not well known.

Among other outputs, we expect to plan future observational campaigns that take into account the expertise gathered. By this effort we envision that the understanding of upper atmosphere electrodynamics will be enhanced by yet unexpected mechanisms hidden in the Valley region.

A copy of our proposal can be found here.