Substorm correlated absorption on a 3200 km trans-auroral HF propagation path
Abstract. A high-frequency transmitter located at Clyde River, NWT, Canada, and a receiver located near Boston, USA, provide a 3200 km trans-auroral, near-meridional propagation path over which the propagation characteristics have been measured. Out of the fourteen frequencies in the HF band sampled every hour for the duration of the experimental campaign (16 January–8 February 1989), the signal level measurements of 6.800 MHz transmissions were selected in order to determine the extent and occurrence of auroral absorption. The median level of auroral absorption along the path is found to increase with geomagnetic activity, quantified by the index Kp, with the increase being greater in the post-midnight sector than in the pre-midnight sector. This asymmetric behaviour is attributed to the precipitation of high energy electrons into the midnight and morning sector auroral D region. The measured diurnal variation in the median level of absorption is consistent with previous models describing the extent and magnitude of auroral absorption and electron precipitation. Individual substorms, identified from geosynchronous satellite data, are found to cause short-lived absorption events in the HF signal level of ~30 dB at 6.800 MHz. The occurrence of substorm correlated auroral absorption events is confined to the midnight and morning sectors, consistent with the location of the electron precipitation. The magnitude of absorption is related to the magnetotail stress during the substorm growth phase and the magnetotail relaxation during the substorm expansion phase onset. The absorption magnitude and the occurrence of substorms during the period of the campaign increase at times of high Kp , leading to an increase in median auroral absorption during disturbed periods.