DOI: 10.1029/2022ja031244 ISSN:

Spectral Characteristics of Phase Fluctuations at High Latitude

K. Song, A. M. Hamza, P. T. Jayachandran, K. Meziane, A. Kashcheyev
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


It has long been established that ionospheric electron density irregularities cause random rapid amplitude and phase fluctuations in trans‐ionospheric radio signals. Various types of ground‐based measurements, including radar and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers, have been utilized to gain insights into the plasma mechanisms that could lead to the development of these ionospheric irregularities. The spectral characteristics of radio wave signals emitted by GNSSs and detected by the Canadian High Arctic Ionospheric Network Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers are analyzed to try and identify the spectral signatures of the ionospheric plasma irregularities. In the polar region, we have confirmed that phase fluctuations in the GPS signal are not always accompanied by amplitude fluctuations. For the first time, a systematic comparison is conducted on the spectral properties of phase‐fluctuation events in the absence and presence of amplitude scintillations, respectively. More specifically, a spectral characterization is performed on 41 events recorded by three receivers positioned within the auroral oval. When fluctuations above the background level are solely observed in the signal's phase, the spectrum of phase variations exhibits a consistent steepness. Conversely, the presence of amplitude scintillation is accompanied by an increase in power at higher frequencies, resulting in shallower spectra. This analysis provides yet another physical element suggesting that the rapid fluctuations observed in the signal's amplitude may be caused by Fresnel‐scale irregularities arising from a gradient‐drift‐like instability while the phase variations seem to be consistent with a refractive mechanism caused by large‐scale ionospheric structures.

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