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    Observations of GPS scintillation during an isolated auroral substorm

    Hosokawa K, Otsuka Y, Ogawa Y, Tsugawa T

    Auroral ionosphere, GPS scintillation, Auroral substorm, Ionospheric density irregularities

    An all-sky optical image obtained soon after the onset of auroral substorm, where the location of the GPS satellites is indicated by the circles. The size of the circles represents the level of phase scintillation in the GPS signal received on the ground.

    You can also watch a movie on the article page of SpringerOpen.

    This paper reports simultaneous observations of ionospheric scintillation during an auroral substorm that were made using an all-sky full-color digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera (ASC) and a Global Positioning System (GPS) ionospheric scintillation and total electron content monitor (GISTM) in Tromsø (69.60 N, 19.20 E), Norway. On the night of November 19, 2009, a small substorm occurred in northern Scandinavia. The ASC captured its temporal evolution from the beginning of the growth phase to the end of the recovery phase. The amplitude scintillation, as monitored by the S4 index from the GISTM, did not increase in any substorm phase. By contrast, phase scintillation, as measured by the σφ index, occurred when discrete auroral arcs appeared on the GPS signal path. In particular, the phase scintillation was significantly enhanced for a few minutes immediately after the onset of the expansion phase. During this period, bright and discrete auroral forms covered the entire sky, which implies that structured precipitation on the scale of a few kilometers to a few tens of kilometers dominated the electron density distribution in the E region. Such inhomogeneous ionization structures probably produced significant changes in the refractive index and eventually resulted in the enhancement of the phase scintillation.