Climatology of medium-scale traveling ionospheric disturbances observed by the midlatitude Blackstone SuperDARN radar

Nathaniel Frissell, J. B.H. Baker, J. M. Ruohoniemi, Andrew Gerrard, E. S. Miller, J. P. Marini, M. L. West, W. A. Bristow

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A climatology of daytime midlatitude medium-scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (MSTIDs) observed by the Blackstone Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) radar is presented. MSTIDs were observed primarily from fall through spring. Two populations were observed: a dominant population heading southeast (centered at 147° geographic azimuth, ranging from 100° to 210°) and a secondary population heading northwest (centered at -50° azimuth, ranging from -75° to -25°). Horizontal velocities ranged from 50 to 250 m s-1 with a distribution maximum between 100 and 150 m s-1. Horizontal wavelengths ranged from 100 to 500 km with a distribution peak at 250 km, and periods between 23 and 60 min, suggesting that the MSTIDs may be consistent with thermospheric gravity waves. A local time (LT) dependence was observed such that the dominant (southeastward) population decreased in number as the day progressed until a late afternoon increase. The secondary (northwestward) population appeared only in the afternoon, possibly indicative of neutral wind effects or variability of sources. LT dependence was not observed in other parameters. Possible solar-geomagnetic and tropospheric MSTID sources were considered. The auroral electrojet (AE) index showed a correlation with MSTID statistics. Reverse ray tracing with the HINDGRATS model indicates that the dominant population has source regions over the Great Lakes and near the geomagnetic cusp, while the secondary population source region is 100 km above the Atlantic Ocean east of the Carolinas. This suggests that the dominant population may come from a region favorable to either tropospheric or geomagnetic sources, while the secondary population originates from a region favorable to secondary waves generated via lower atmospheric convection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7679-7697
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • AGW
  • SuperDARN
  • ionosphere
  • traveling ionospheric disturbance


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