UHF scintillation activity over polar latitudes


  • J. Aarons,

  • J. P. Mullen,

  • H. E. Whitney,

  • A. L. Johnson,

  • E. J. Weber


Polar cap ionospheric irregularities have been monitored for several years from Thule Air Base, Greenland using 250 MHz satellite beacon scintillation measurements. The seasonal pattern of the polar cap irregularities shows very high intensity levels during the winter and lower levels during the summer (sunlit) months. This behavior is similar to in-situ polar cap electric field measurements which show larger fluctuations in the winter than in the summer, an effect which may be related to E layer conductivity changes. A striking contrast was noted between high scintillation levels observed during 1979/80, a year of high solar flux, and much lower levels observed during 1975, a year of low solar flux. This variation may be related to a corresponding solar cycle variation in polar cap F layer electron density. The data reveal little difference between periods of high and low Kp, and only a weak diurnal variation in any season. Direct optical and ionosonde measurements indicate that these scintillations are produced by ionospheric irregularities in the polar cap F-region. Results of spaced receiver drift measurements indicate that the small scale of irregularity drift was antisunward. Intense irregularities are associated with discrete sun aligned F layer auroras. A weak background level of scintillation persisted in the high solar flux years.