Radio Science

Delay, Doppler, and amplitude characteristics of HF signals received over a 1300-km transauroral sky wave channel


  • L. S. Wagner,

  • J. A. Goldstein,

  • M. A. Rupar,

  • E. J. Kennedy


Channel probe observations of propagation conditions along a 1294-km transauroral path between Sondrestrom, Greenland, and Keflavik, Iceland, were made during the period from March 13 to April 2, 1992. The midpoint of this path was located at a corrected geomagnetic latitude of 72°. The objective of these measurements was to supplement the existing data base describing propagation conditions on the HF transauroral channel with data pertaining to a period around the time of solar maximum. Received signals for this path fell into three distinct groups depending on their amplitude and delay and Doppler spread characteristics. These are (1) strong, specularly reflected ionospheric returns characteristic of a quiescent daytime ionospheric channel during magnetically quiet conditions; (2) strong specular multipath signals reflected from horizontal gradients of electron density and regularly encountered at night; and (3) weak scatter returns that are also a persistent nighttime phenomenon. The scatter returns are usually observed at delays exceeding those anticipated for the one-hop return and, very often, at frequencies that are well above the MUF for the great circle propagation path. The multipath and scatter returns exhibit large delay and Doppler spreads indicative of spatially extensive distributions of drifting and randomly moving irregularities. Two measurement events are discussed which illustrate these conclusions: a noontime measurement with Kp = 3, and a midnight measurement with Kp = 2. The noontime measurement exhibited a scatter return from an isolated irregularity region in addition to the usual ionospheric reflected signals. A simple irregularity drift model produced delay and Doppler shift curves that were consistent with those observed for the scatter component of the received signal and supported a hypothesis of an irregularity region drift speed of 1200 m s−1 parallel to the great circle propagation path.