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LOFAR observations of asymmetric quasi-periodic scintillations in the mid-latitude ionosphere

Gareth DorrianDavid ThemensToralf Renkwitz ...+5 Hannah Trigg
Jan 2024
The LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR) was used to track the propagation of a TID containing embedded plasma structures which generated type 1 asymmetric quasi periodic scintillations (QPS: Maruyama, 1991) over a distance of >1200 km across Northern Europe. Broadband trans ionospheric radio scintillation observations of these phenomena are, to our knowledge, unreported in the literature as is the ability to track asymmetric QPS generating plasma structures over such a distance. Type 1 asymmetric QPS are characterised by an initial broadband signal fade and enhancement which is then followed by 'ringing pattern' interference fringes. These are caused by diffractive fringing as the radio signal transitions through regions of relatively steep plasma density gradient at the trailing edge of the plasma structures. That the QPS retained their characteristics consistently over the full observing window implies that the plasma structures generating them likewise held their form for several hours, and over the full 1200 km distance. The most likely TID propagation altitude of 110 km was consistent with a persistent and non blanketing sporadic E region detected by the Juliusruh ionosondes, and direct measurements from co-located medium frequency radar. Co-temporal GNSS data was used to establish that these plasma density variations were very small, with a maximum likely amplitude of no more than +/- 0.02 TECu deviation from the background average. The observations were made between 0430-0800 UT on 17 December 2018 under very quiet geophysical conditions which possibly indicated a terrestrial source. Given the TID propagation direction, the source was likely located at high-latitude.
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