Ionospheric irregularities during a substorm event: Observations of ULF pulsations and GPS scintillations

H. Kim, C. R. Clauer, K. Deshpande, M. R. Lessard, A. T. Weatherwax, G. S. Bust, G. Crowley, T. E. Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Plasma instability in the ionosphere is often observed as disturbances and distortions of the amplitude and phase of the radio signals, which are known as ionospheric scintillations. High-latitude ionospheric plasma, closely connected to the solar wind and magnetospheric dynamics, produces very dynamic and short-lived Global Positioning System (GPS) scintillations, making it challenging to characterize them. It is observed that scintillations in the high-latitude ionosphere occur frequently during geomagnetic storms and substorms. In addition, it is well known that Ultra Low Frequency (ULF) pulsations (Pi2 and Pi1B) are closely associated with substorm activity. This study reports simultaneous observations of Pi2 and Pi1B pulsations and GPS phase scintillations during a substorm using a newly designed Autonomous Adaptive Low-Power Instrument Platform (AAL-PIP) installed at the South Pole. The magnetic field and GPS data from the instruments appear to be associated in terms of their temporal and spectral features. Moreover, the scintillation events were observed near the auroral latitudes where Pi1B pulsations are commonly detected. The temporal, spectral and spatial association between the scintillation and geomagnetic pulsation events suggests that the magnetic field perturbations and enhanced electric fields caused by substorm currents could contribute to the creation of plasma instability in the high-latitude ionosphere, leading to GPS scintillations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics
StatePublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • GPS scintillation
  • Ionospheric irregularity
  • Substorm
  • ULF waves


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