skip to main content

Title: Morphological and Spectral Features of Ionospheric Structures at E- and F-Region Altitudes over Poker Flat Analyzed Using Modeling and Observations
Electron density irregularities in the ionosphere modify the phase and amplitude of trans-ionospheric radio signals. We aim to characterize the spectral and morphological features of E- and F-region ionospheric irregularities likely to produce these fluctuations or “scintillations”. To characterize them, we use a three-dimensional radio wave propagation model—“Satellite-beacon Ionospheric scintillation Global Model of upper Atmosphere” (SIGMA), along with the scintillation measurements observed by a cluster of six Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers called Scintillation Auroral GPS Array (SAGA) at Poker Flat, AK. An inverse method is used to derive the parameters that describe the irregularities by estimating the best fit of model outputs to GPS observations. We analyze in detail one E-region and two F-region events during geomagnetically active times and determine the E- and F-region irregularity characteristics using two different spectral models as input to SIGMA. Our results from the spectral analysis show that the E-region irregularities are more elongated along the magnetic field lines with rod-shaped structures, while the F-region irregularities have wing-like structures with irregularities extending both along and across the magnetic field lines. We also found that the spectral index of the E-region event is less than the spectral index of the F-region events. Additionally, the spectral slope on the ground at higher frequencies is less than the spectral slope at irregularity height. This study describes distinctive morphological and spectral features of irregularities at E- and F-regions for a handful of cases performed using a full 3D propagation model coupled with GPS observations and inversion.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    This paper surveys six years of Global Positioning System (GPS) L1 and L2C ionospheric scintillation in the auroral zone and, with a collocated incoherent scatter radar, hypothesizes the ionospheric irregularity layer. The Scintillation Auroral GPS Array of six scintillation receivers is sited at Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska, as is the Poker Flat incoherent scatter radar (PFISR). Scintillation intervals are identified across at least four receivers of the array using S4 and sigma phi (σϕ) indices at 100 s cadence. Classification as “amplitude,” “phase,” or “both‐phase‐and‐amplitude” scintillation is performed by analyzing common time intervals of elevated S4 andσϕ. Scattering of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) waves by refractive or diffractive effects is hypothesized to occur in the E or F layer, or a transition layer in between, based on the PFISR peak density altitude at the time of the scintillation event. We analyze the statistics of the irregularity layer from 2014 to 2019, spanning solar maximum to solar minimum. We find fewer scintillation events per day with the waning solar cycle, nearly all of them phase scintillations. We also find that the percentage of events hypothesized to be caused by irregularities in the E layer increases with the declining solar cycle. The local time dependence of phase scintillations is primarily at night and in the E layer. Phase scintillation events occurring during daytime occur at solar maximum and are nearly all in the F layer. The majority of the events containing amplitude scintillations are daytime F layer at solar maximum (2014).

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Postsunset midlatitude traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs) and equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) were simultaneously observed over American sector during the geomagnetic storm on 8 September 2017. The characteristics of TIDs are analyzed by using a combination of the Millstone Hill incoherent scatter radar data and 2‐D detrended total electron content (TEC) from ground‐based Global Navigation Satellite System receivers. The main results associated with EPBs are as follows: (1) stream‐like structures of TEC depletion occurred simultaneously at geomagnetically conjugate points, (2) poleward extension of the TEC irregularities/depletions along the magnetic field lines, (3) severe equatorial and midlatitude electron density (Ne) bite outs observed by Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and Swarm satellites, and (4) enhancements of ionosphereFlayer virtual height and vertical drifts observed by equatorial ionosondes near the EPBs initiation region. The stream‐like TEC depletions reached 46° magnetic latitudes that map to an apex altitude of 6,800 km over the magnetic equator using International Geomagnetic Reference Field. The formation of this extended density depletion structure is suggested to be due to the merging between the altitudinal/latitudinal extension of EPBs driven by strong prompt penetration electric field and midlatitude TIDs. Moreover, the poleward portion of the depletion/irregularity drifted westward and reached the equatorward boundary of the ionospheric main trough. This westward drift occurred at the same time as the sudden expansion of the convection pattern and could be attributed to the strong returning westward flow near the subauroral polarization stream region. Other possible mechanisms for the westward tilt are also discussed.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Propagation of high‐frequency (HF) radio signals is strongly dependent on the ionospheric electron density structure along a communications link. The ground‐based, HF space weather radars of the Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) utilize the ionospheric refraction of transmitted signals to monitor the global circulation ofE‐ andF‐region plasma irregularities. Previous studies have assessed the propagation characteristics of backscatter echoes from ionospheric irregularities in the auroral and polar regions of the Earth's ionosphere. By default, the geographic location of these echoes are found using empirical models which estimate the virtual backscattering height from the measured range along the radar signal path. However, the performance of these virtual height models has not yet been evaluated for mid‐latitude SuperDARN radar observations or for ground scatter (GS) propagation modes. In this study, we derive a virtual height model suitable for mid‐latitude SuperDARN observations using 5 years of data from the Christmas Valley East and West radars. This empirical model can be applied to both ionospheric and GS observations and provides an improved estimate of the ground range to the backscatter location compared to existing high‐latitude virtual height models. We also identify a region of overlapping half‐hopF‐region ionospheric scatter and one‐hopE‐region GS where the measured radar parameters (e.g., velocity, spectral width, elevation angle) are insufficient to discriminate between the two scatter types. Further studies are required to determine whether these backscatter echoes of ambiguous origin are observed by other mid‐latitude SuperDARN radars and their potential impact on scatter classification schemes.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Using the University Navstar Consortium (UNAVCO) Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver network in North America, we present 2‐D distributions of GPS radio signal scintillation in the mid‐latitude ionosphere during the 7–8 September 2017 storm. The mid‐latitude ionosphere showed a variety of density structures such as the storm enhanced density (SED) base and plume, main trough, secondary plume, and secondary trough during the storm main and early recovery phases. Enhanced phase and amplitude scintillation indices were observed at the density gradients of those structures. SuperDARN radar echoes were also enhanced at the density gradients. The collocation of the scintillation and HF radar echoes indicates that density irregularities developed across a wide range of wavelengths (tens of meters to tens of kilometers) in the mid‐latitude density structures. The density gradients and irregularities were also detected by Swarm and DMSP as in‐situ density structures that disturbed the GPS signals. The irregularities were a substantial fraction (∼10%–50%) of the background density. The density irregularity had a power law spectrum with slope of ∼ −1.8, suggesting that gradient drift instability (GDI) contributed to turbulence formation. Both high‐latitude and low‐latitude processes likely contributed to forming the mid‐latitude density structures, and the mid‐latitude scintillation occurred at the interface of high‐latitude and low‐latitude forcing.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Most of the low‐latitude ionospheric radar observations in South America come from the Jicamarca Radio Observatory, located in the western longitude sector (∼75°W). The deployment of the 30 MHz FAPESP‐Clemson‐INPE (FCI) coherent backscatter radar in the magnetic equatorial site of São Luis, Brazil, in 2001 allowed observations to be made in the eastern sector (∼45°W). However, despite being operational for several years (2001–2012), FCI only made observations during daytime and pre‐midnight hours, with a few exceptions. Here, we describe an upgraded system that replaced the FCI radar and present results of full‐nightF‐region observations. This radar is referred to as Measurements of Equatorial and Low‐latitude Ionospheric irregularities over São Luís, South America (MELISSA), and made observations between March 2014 and December 2018. We present results of our analyses of pre‐ and post‐midnightF‐region echoes with focus on the spectral features of post‐midnight echoes and how they compare to spectra of echoes observed in the post‐sunset sector. The radar observations indicate that post‐midnightF‐region irregularities were generated locally and were not a result of “fossil” structures generated much earlier in time (in other longitude sectors) and that drifted into the radar field‐of‐view. This also includes cases where the echoes are weak and that would be associated with decaying equatorial spreadF(ESF) structures. Collocated digisonde observations show modest but noticeableF‐region apparent uplifts prior to post‐midnight ESF events. We associate the equatorial uplifts with disturbed dynamo effects and with destabilizingF‐region conditions leading to ESF development.

    more » « less