Articles | Volume 29, issue 10
28 Oct 2011
 | 28 Oct 2011

On the characteristics of 150-km echoes observed in the Brazilian longitude sector by the 30 MHz São Luís radar

F. S. Rodrigues, E. R. de Paula, and J. L. Chau

Abstract. We present long-overdue details about the intensity and spectral characteristics of 150-km echoes observed by the São Luís radar in Brazil. The São Luís observations show that the echoes usually come from multiple scattering layers that descend in altitude before local noon, and ascend during afternoon hours, similar to what has been found in observations made in other longitude sectors. The layers are usually 3–5 km thick and located, mostly, between 130 and 170 km altitude. The measurements also show variations in echo intensity that are similar to observations made at other equatorial and off-equatorial sites. Analysis of observations made during 2008 shows significant (>37%) monthly occurrence rates for every month. Reduced occurrence rates were observed around March Equinox. We associate this reduction in occurrence rate, however, to a non-geophysical factor. An increase in the daytime sky noise in the months around March Equinox causes a decrease in the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the echoes, which makes them less distinguishable in our analysis. A higher occurrence of weaker echoes around March Equinox was confirmed by an statistical analysis of the seasonal variation of echo intensities. Strong, long-lasting and, therefore, more noticeable echoing layers, however, were observed between June and early September compared to other months in 2008. Spectral analyses show that most of the echoes have negative mean Doppler shifts indicating upward velocities. The echoes also have narrow spectral widths of only a few m s−1. Finally, we also found that the mean Doppler shift of the observed echoes can vary noticeably with altitude at times. Using spaced antenna measurements we show that this is caused by the wide field-of-view of the radar and the spatial distribution of the scatterers within the radar beam.