Disturbances in the Ionosphere

Disturbances in a low-latitude region of the ionosphere can sometimes be associated with equatorial spread F (ESF)—a phenomenon where the equatorial region of the ionosphere is reshaped and destabilized after sunset. ESF-associated disturbances interfere with radio communication, navigation, and imaging systems and therefore pose an operational hazard.

In a previous project, David L. Hysell, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, developed a three-dimensional simulation of the plasma instabilities responsible for ESF. While the simulation could predict accurately almost all of the time, on occasion it produced missed detections, failing to anticipate disturbances that occurred under seemingly unlikely circumstances. Understanding these rogue events is the focus of Hysell’s current project.

The first objective is to continue conducting ESF campaigns at Jicamarca Radio Observatory near Lima, Peru and reproduce the observations in numerical simulations. Hysell is expanding, however, the region monitored and the range of conditions considered storm-time events. Forecast successes during geomagnetically active periods will confer additional confidence to Hysell and his team’s methods and results.

The second objective is to expand the beacon network from the existing three stations to seven. Data from the expanded network will promote the beacon methodology from a proof-of-concept to a discovery role. The third objective is to use the results from the beacon network to investigate the rogue ionospheric disturbances in order to improve the accuracy of the ionospheric forecasts. Hysell will also investigate other applications for the beacon network, including a local alternative to the global navigation satellite system (GNSS).

Cornell Researcher

Funding Received

$650 Thousand spanning 3 years

Sponsored by

Other Research Sponsored by United States Department of Defense, Air Force Office of Scientific Research