Amateur Radio Communications as a Novel Sensor of Large Scale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (Invited)

TitleAmateur Radio Communications as a Novel Sensor of Large Scale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (Invited)
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsFrissell, NA, Sanchez, DF, Perry, GW, Kaeppler, SR, Joshi, DRaj, Engelke, W, Thomas, EG, Coster, AJ, Erickson, PJ, J. Ruohoniemi, M, Baker, JBH
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Date Published12
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Conference LocationNew Orleans, LA

Amateur (ham) radio high frequency (HF) communications are routinely observed by automated receiving systems on a quasi-global scale. As these signals are modulated by the ionosphere, it is possible to use these observations to remotely sense ionospheric dynamics and the coupled geospace environment. In this presentation, we demonstrate the use of these data to observe Large Scale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (LSTIDs), which are quasi-periodic variations in F region electron density with horizontal wavelengths > 1000 km and periods between 30 to 180 min. On 3 November 2017, LSTID signatures were detected simultaneously over the continental United States in observations made by global HF amateur radio observing networks and the Blackstone (BKS) SuperDARN radar. The amateur radio LSTIDs were observed on the 7 and 14 MHz amateur radio bands as changes in average propagation path length with time, while the LSTIDs were observed by SuperDARN as oscillations of average scatter range. LSTID period lengthened from T ~ 1.5 hr at 12 UT to T ~ 2.25 hr by 21 UT. The amateur radio and BKS SuperDARN radar observations corresponded with Global Navigation Satellite System differential Total Electron Content (GNSS dTEC) measurements. dTEC was used to estimate LSTID parameters: horizontal wavelength 1136 km, phase velocity 1280 km/hr, period 53 min, and propagation azimuth 167°. The LSTID signatures were observed throughout the day following ~400 to 800 nT surges in the Auroral Electrojet (AE) index. As a contrast, 16 May 2017 was identified as a period with significant amateur radio coverage but no LSTID signatures in spite of similar geomagnetic conditions and AE activity as the 3 November event. We hypothesize that atmospheric gravity wave (AGW) sources triggered by auroral electrojet intensifications and associated Joule heating are the source of the LSTIDs, and discuss possible reasons why LSTIDs were observed in November but not May.

Refereed DesignationNon-Refereed