Radio Science

Equatorial range spread F echoes from coherent backscatter, and irregularity growth processes, from conjugate point digital ionograms


Corresponding author: M. A. Abdu, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Ave. dos Astronautas 1758, Jd da Granja, 12245970, São Jose dos Campos, Brazil. (


[1] Radio wave returns from spread F plasma structures as received by ionosondes can originate from total/specular reflection, partial reflection or coherent backscattering. The dominant mechanism to account for the spread F traces in equatorial ionograms is still an open question. Depending upon the precise mechanism, ionosondes are sensitive to irregularity scale sizes of tens of meters to several tens/hundreds of kilometers. In this paper we analyze signatures of range spreading F layer traces in Digisonde ionograms, taken at Fortaleza (3.9°S, 38.45°W, dip: −9°) and Sao Luis (2.33 S, 44.2W, dip angle: −0.5°), and at a dip equatorial site Cachimbo (9.5°S, 54.8°W, dip: −4.2°) and at its two conjugate sites Bova Vista (02.8°N, 60.7°W, dip: 22.0°) and Campo Grande (20.5 S, 54.7 W, dip −22.3°) in Brazil, to determine the dominant process/mechanism of echo returns from the irregularity structures. A significant component of the ESF trace structures is found to be consistent with the echoes originating from coherent backscattering at field line perpendicular directions. The degree of range spreading of the echoes is found to increase linearly with the top frequency of the echo trace, which is shown to be a more precise indicator of the irregularity strength. Further, the irregularity strength exhibits a significant increase from the equator toward the EIA crests, as well as a strong asymmetry between the conjugate sites.