• HAARP;
  • VLF;
  • ionosphere

[1] Generation of ELF/VLF radio waves (300 Hz to 10 kHz) is achievable via modulation of natural currents in the lower ionosphere with high-power HF (2–10 MHz) heating. Recently, Cohen et al. (2008b) put forth an alternative to conventional amplitude HF power modulation, therein referred to as geometric modulation, in which the HF ionospheric heating beam is geometrically steered at the desired ELF/VLF frequency, and found 7–11 dB enhanced amplitudes, and ∼14 dB directional dependence for the thus generated ELF/VLF waves, compared to vertical amplitude modulation. In this paper, we quantitatively compare amplitude modulation, geometric modulation, and a previously proposed technique known as beam painting, wherein the HF beam is rapidly moved over a wide area during the on portion of amplitude modulation in order to create a larger heated region in the ionosphere. We experimentally analyze both the total generation and the directionality, i.e., the suitability of each technique to direct signals along a chosen azimuth. Among the three methods, geometric modulation is found to be uniquely well suited for both goals. We also conduct experiments to investigate two particular physical effects and their role in generation efficacy: that of heat-cool duty cycle and the oblique angle of the HF heating beam. It is found that both duty cycle and the oblique angle of the beam have small but counteracting impacts, consistent with the notion that the primary physical process responsible for generation enhancement in geometric modulation is that of formation of an effective multielement phased array.