Articles | Volume 24, issue 1
07 Mar 2006
 | 07 Mar 2006

Spectral width of SuperDARN echoes: measurement, use and physical interpretation

P. V. Ponomarenko and C. L. Waters

Abstract. The Doppler velocity and spectral width are two important parameters derived from coherent scatter radar systems. The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) is capable of monitoring most of the high latitude region where different boundaries of the magnetosphere map to the ionosphere. In the past, the spectral width, calculated from SuperDARN data, has been used to identify the ionosphere footprints of various magnetosphere boundaries. In this paper we examine the way the spectral width is presently estimated from the radar data and describe several recommendations for improving the algorithm. Using the improved algorithm, we show that typical spectral width values reported in the literature are most probably overestimated. The physical interpretation of the cause of various magnitudes of the spectral width is explored in terms of the diffusion and dynamics of ionospheric plasma irregularities.