A method for detecting ionospheric disturbances and estimating their propagation speed and direction using a large GPS network
Article first published online: 25 DEC 2007
Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Volume 42, Issue 6, December 2007
How to Cite
2007), A method for detecting ionospheric disturbances and estimating their propagation speed and direction using a large GPS network, Radio Sci., 42, RS6011, doi:10.1029/2007RS003657., , , and (
- Issue published online: 25 DEC 2007
- Article first published online: 25 DEC 2007
- Manuscript Accepted: 18 SEP 2007
- Manuscript Revised: 1 AUG 2007
- Manuscript Received: 6 MAR 2007
 A technique is developed for detecting short period (3–10 min) ionospheric disturbances and estimating their propagation speed and direction using data from a large GPS network (a hundred or more receivers). This method increases the signal-to-noise ratio of small signals and could be applied, autonomously, to process a large set of data for the study of the potential signal sources and statistical distributions of these disturbances. The integral electron content (IEC) for every satellite-station pair in the network is extracted from dual frequency phase data. These IEC time series are then band-pass-filtered and cross-correlated with each other. The resulting correlation power is an indication of the presence of a common disturbance recorded at the two stations, and the delay to the maximum correlation is a measurement of the propagation time between the ionospheric pierce points of the respective stations. A threshold on correlation power is used to select a subset of these delay measurements. The velocity of the detected perturbation is then estimated by fitting a two-dimensional plane wave model to this subset of measurements. A technique is developed to remove the effects of time-varying satellite motion and to reconstruct the waveform that would have been observed at a fixed point within the ionosphere. Consistency of the resulting velocity estimates is checked using a stacking-alignment method and a time-distance mapping that accounts for the motion of the GPS satellites. The sensitivity of the velocity estimate to both the assumed height of a thin-layer ionosphere and the detection threshold value is studied. A simulation is used to demonstrate the IEC waveform distortion due to satellite motion, and an example is shown in which this distortion is able to shift the dominant frequencies of an actual disturbance outside of the passband of the filter, thereby preventing detection. Four weeks of data, in different seasons, collected using the Southern California Integrated GPS Network (SCIGN), were processed. Over the total of 28 days, 127 significant disturbances were detected, most with horizontal propagation speeds between 50–1000 m/s and westward directions of propagation. A few cases with exceptionally high speed (>2000 m/s) were observed. It is hypothesized that these are manifestations of disturbances that occur simultaneously throughout the ionosphere, rather than traveling waves. The rate of occurrence of disturbances in the 3–10 min band was found to be larger than expected. Observational biases of this method are discussed.