Experimental observation of horizontal refractivity gradients during periods of multipath propagation


  • V. Blanchetiere-Ciarletti,

  • J. Lavergnat,

  • M. Sylvain,

  • A. Weill


The Propagation en Air Clair et Météorologie 3 (PACEM 3) experiment was intended to provide a better understanding of the physical situations and mechanisms that cause multipath propagation on line of sight links. In this experiment we investigated both the horizontal and the vertical gradients of the refractive index. In this paper, after a description of the experiment, we present some results from the aircraft data analysis. During two nights when radio data demonstrated the existence of multipath propagation, the meteorological situations were different, but both involved important horizontal refractivity gradients. The first night showed the combined effect of the wind circulation and relief. We locally found a 15-unit increase in the N value over 10 km. During the second night we observed the arrival and the passage of a moist air mass inducing at the transition a difference of 15–20 N units over about 5 km. A ray-tracing computation taking into account horizontal gradients of refractivity gives evidence of the influence of these horizontal variations upon the area of interfering rays.