Sources and Measurement of Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances


Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (TIDs) are variations in the ionosphere that can impact medium frequency (MF) and high frequency (HF) radio communications through fading (QSB) and by causing variations in communications distance. HamSCI has two funded projects for studying TIDs and their connection to the atmosphere and space.

Science and Research Questions

  • Are TIDs with sources in the lower atmosphere are caused by secondary or tertiary AGWs that reach the thermosphere due to a multistep vertical coupling paradigm?
  • What  percentage of observed TIDs correlated with geomagnetic activity what percentage are not?
  • What is the TID longitudinal dependence on 2D stratospheric polar vortex configuration?
  • To what extent can data from amateur radio fill TID observational gaps and be scientifically useful?
  • To what extent will the use of advanced, physics-based whole atmospheric models in conjunction with observations improve our capacity to study the science of TIDs?


  • Frissell, N. A., Kaeppler, S. R., Sanchez, D. F., Perry, G. W., Engelke, W. D., Erickson, P. J., Coster, A. J., Ruohoniemi, J. M., Baker, J. B. H., West, M. lou. (2022). First Observations of Large Scale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances Using Automated Amateur Radio Receiving Networks. Geophysical Research Letters (Under Review).

Project 1

Enabling Space Weather Research with Global Scale Amateur Radio Datasets

NASA SWO2R, 2 years (2021-2023), PI: Nathaniel Frissell W2NAF (University of Scranton), Co-Is: Travis Atkison (University of Alabama), William Engelke AB4EJ (University of Alabama), and Philip Erickson W1PJE (MIT Haystack Observatory)

  • Development of automated TID detection and parameter extraction algorithms.
  • Develop empirical TID models that use geophysical indices as independent variables and model the probability of TID occurrence signatures in terrestrial HF communications.
  • Validate models for the 7 and 14 MHz bands in the continental US and mainland Europe.
  • Deposit RBN/PSKReporter/WSPRNet data into public NASA data repositories.

Project 2

CAREER: Amateur Radio as a Tool for Studying Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances and Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling

NSF CAREER, 5 years (2021-2026), PI: Nathaniel Frissell W2NAF (University of Scranton)

  • Identify the amount of TIDs observed by HF communications systems that are and are not associated with geomagnetic activity.
  • Determine the ability of data from amateur radio to fill TID observational gaps and be scientifically useful.
  • Establish TID longitudinal dependence on the 2D stratospheric polar vortex configuration.
  • Test the multistep vertical coupling paradigm of AGWs/TIDs theorized in the latest physics-based models.