Traveling ionospheric disturbances tracked through Doppler-shifted AM radio transmissions

TitleTraveling ionospheric disturbances tracked through Doppler-shifted AM radio transmissions
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2021
AuthorsTrop, CC, LaBelle, J, Erickson, PJ, Zhang, S, McGaw, D, Kovacs, T
Conference NameHamSCI Workshop 2021
Date Published03/2021
Conference LocationScranton, PA (Virtual)

A comprehensive understanding of the ionosphere is critical for many technologies, particularly those that rely on the propagation of radio waves. This study shows that traveling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs), dawn and dusk signal divergence (terminators), and spread F can be tracked and analyzed using clear channel AM radio transmissions and a set of geographically distributed receivers. Early attempts by our research group to track TIDs by AM radio signals reflected from the F region of the ionosphere generated results in conflict with those derived from GPS/TEC mapping methods [Chilcote et al., 2015]. This study seeks to resolve those conflicts with a more sophisticated array of receivers spread throughout the northeastern United States. Specifically, the receivers form a ring around an 810 kHz AM radio station in Schenectady, New York. A minimum of four receivers have been operational from 3/19/20 to the present and Doppler-shifted signals, attributed to TID events, have been consistently visible across several radio channels with frequencies between 800 to 1600kHz. We have focused our study thus far on the terminator signals which appear to be consistent with photochemistry effects and on TID wave characteristic analysis. We have collected a set of exceptional TID events over the past nine months and have correlated our calculated wave characteristics with the data from GNSS TEC, digisonde, and SuperDARN in general finding good agreement between our technique and these established methods. While our study still seeks to clarify discrepancies in our data similar to those seen by Chilcote in the original study, the consistency with which our data typically agrees with other methods supports the validity of using AM radio transmissions to track TIDs in addition to other ionospheric phenomena such as the terminator. 

Reference: Chilcote, M., et al. (2015), Detection of traveling ionospheric disturbances by medium-frequency Doppler sounding using AM radio transmissions, Radio Sci., 50, doi:10.1002/2014RS005617.

Refereed DesignationNon-Refereed