Digisonde spread F and GPS phase fluctuations in the equatorial ionosphere during solar maximum



[1] The Jicamarca (11.95°S, 76.87°W) digisonde and the Arequipa (16.47°S, 71.49°W) GPS receiver observed the equatorial F region irregularities on the western South America from April 1999 to March 2000. The spread F measured by the digisonde were classified into four types, and the GPS phase fluctuations derived from the temporal variation of total electron content were divided into three levels to represent the irregularity strength. The observation shows that the occurrences of all four types of spread F are higher in the D months (January, February, November, and December) than in the E months (March, April, September, and October). For the GPS phase fluctuations, both seasonal and nighttime variations show that the occurrences of strong level irregularities are higher than moderate level irregularities in the E months, but the situation is reversed in the D months. Moreover, the occurrence sequences of four types of spread F and three levels of GPS phase fluctuations all can be explained by the E × B drift variations and the generalized Rayleigh-Taylor instability. For the comparisons between the GPS phase fluctuations and the digisonde spread F/plasma bubbles, results show that the GPS phase fluctuations can represent the appearances of the digisonde spread F, and the strong level of GPS phase fluctuations are associated with the occurrence of topside plasma bubbles. These results imply that the greater GPS phase fluctuation is related to the larger altitudinal range distribution of irregularities.