Investigation of the relationship between optical auroral forms and HF radar E region backscatter

The SuperDARN HF radars have been employed in the past to investigate the spectral characteristics of coherent backscatter from L-shell aligned features in the auroral E region. The present study employs all-sky camera observations of the aurora from Husafell, Iceland, and the two SuperDARN radars located on Iceland, Þykkvibær and Stokkseyri, to determine the optical signature of such backscatter features. It is shown that, especially during quiet geomagnetic conditions, the backscatter region is closely associated with east-west aligned diffuse auroral features, and that the two move in tandem with each other. This association between optical and radar aurora has repercussions for the instability mechanisms responsible for generating the E region irregularities from which radars scatter. This is discussed and compared with previous studies investigating the relationship between optical and VHF radar aurora. In addition, although it is known that E region backscatter is commonly observed by SuperDARN radars, the present study demonstrates for the first time that multiple radars can observe the same feature to extend over at least 3 h of magnetic local time, allowing precipitation features to be mapped over large portions of the auroral zone.