Articles | Volume 28, issue 6
21 Jun 2010
 | 21 Jun 2010

GPS TEC, scintillation and cycle slips observed at high latitudes during solar minimum

P. Prikryl, P. T. Jayachandran, S. C. Mushini, D. Pokhotelov, J. W. MacDougall, E. Donovan, E. Spanswick, and J.-P. St.-Maurice

Abstract. High-latitude irregularities can impair the operation of GPS-based devices by causing fluctuations of GPS signal amplitude and phase, also known as scintillation. Severe scintillation events lead to losses of phase lock, which result in cycle slips. We have used data from the Canadian High Arctic Ionospheric Network (CHAIN) to measure amplitude and phase scintillation from L1 GPS signals and total electron content (TEC) from L1 and L2 GPS signals to study the relative role that various high-latitude irregularity generation mechanisms have in producing scintillation. In the first year of operation during the current solar minimum the amplitude scintillation has remained very low but events of strong phase scintillation have been observed. We have found, as expected, that auroral arc and substorm intensifications as well as cusp region dynamics are strong sources of phase scintillation and potential cycle slips. In addition, we have found clear seasonal and universal time dependencies of TEC and phase scintillation over the polar cap region. A comparison with radio instruments from the Canadian GeoSpace Monitoring (CGSM) network strongly suggests that the polar cap scintillation and TEC variations are associated with polar cap patches which we therefore infer to be main contributors to scintillation-causing irregularities in the polar cap.