High-Latitude Ionospheric Structuring at Kilometer Scales
Abstract:Ionospheric observations in the polar and auroral zones have been made regularly with radar chains and optical imaging at larger spatio-temporal cadence. However, the observation of kilometer scale variations at sub-second cadence has not been practically realizable until recently. Quantifying the irregularities at these sizes and scales is necessary for an understanding of the dynamics leading to fine scale phenomena in the high latitude environment.
We present measurements of kilometer-scale plasma variations made at the northern auroral zone using an array of specialized Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. These 6 CASES receivers (plus 1 from ASTRA, LLC) are sited at the Poker Flat Research Range, Alaska, and have been collecting data since late 2013. The array monitors for ionospheric scintillations, fluctuations in phase and amplitude of the GPS L-band signals received due to ionospheric variations. The array spans 2 km east-west and about 1 km north-south, with a variety of intermediate baseline lengths down to about 200 m. In addition to measuring amplitude and phase scintillation with the S4 and sigma_phi indices at 100-s cadence, these receivers also record 100 Hz raw power and phase measurements from GPS baseband signal processing. These low-rate data are publicly available for download through a web portal at http://apollo.tbc.iit.edu/~spaceweather/ with high rate available upon request.
A detailed case study is presented from the December 8, 2013, 0300-0400 UT time period. During this period several interesting scintillation periods were observed. We use array cross-correlation processing methods to first estimate direct ground parameters of the array including a) estimate the 2D drift velocity on the ground; b) estimate a de-correlation (or turbulent) speed; and c) parameters of correlation elliptical coordinates (axial ratio and tilt angle). We then use these results and cross-correlation measurements to derive the ground 2D spatial spectrum of the observed phase and amplitude. From these results we then use inverse modeling to estimate parameters of the spectrum of the ionospheric irregularities, altitude of the irregularities, and thickness of the irregularity region. Finally, we compare our results with observations from PFISR, the all-sky imager and wind imager.