Articles | Volume 22, issue 6
14 Jun 2004
 | 14 Jun 2004

Ionospheric propagation effects on spectral widths measured by SuperDARN HF radars

X. Vallières, J.-P. Villain, C. Hanuise, and R. André

Abstract. SuperDARN HF radars provide a global survey of the large-scale convection transversely to the Earth's magnetic field in the high-latitude ionosphere. In addition to the mean plasma velocity, this network also provides measurements of spectral widths which are related to the level of turbulence of the sounded plasma. There is an increasing interest in using spectral widths in geophysical studies, since they are used to monitor the footprints of several magnetospheric regions. In the present paper, we show the effect of radio wave propagation through a typical turbulent ionosphere on spectral widths measured by SuperDARN radars. This effect has already been evidenced experimentally in a previous paper. Here, we model the effects of meso-scale structures on a radar wave front and study their impact on a typical measurement. Numerical simulations reproduce the effect evidenced experimentally and show the role of meso-scale structures (1-10km) in the systematic bias that affects spectral width values. As in experimental data, this effect is shown to be increasing with decreasing radar frequency.