Nighttime ionospheric D region parameters from VLF phase and amplitude



[1] Nighttime ionospheric D region heights and electron densities are determined from an extensive set of VLF radio phase and amplitude observations. The D region parameters are characterized by the traditional H′ (height in kilometers) and β (sharpness in km−1) as used by Wait and by the U. S. Navy in their Earth-ionosphere waveguide programs. The VLF measurements were made with several frequencies in the range 10 kHz to 41 kHz on long, mainly all-sea paths, including Omega La Reunion and Omega Argentina to Dunedin, New Zealand, NAU (Puerto Rico) and NAA (Maine, USA) to Cambridge, UK, and NPM (Hawaii) to San Francisco. Because daytime VLF propagation on such paths is readily measured and predicted, the differences between night and day amplitudes and phases were measured and compared with calculations for a range of nighttime ionospheric parameters. This avoided the problem of uncertainties in the transmitter powers. In this way the height, H′, and the sharpness, β, when averaged over periods of several days, at least for the midlatitude D region near solar minimum, were found to be 85.1 ± 0.4 km and 0.63 ± 0.04 km−1, respectively.