Evidence for the Magnetoionic Nature of Oblique VHF Reflections from Midlatitude Sporadic-E Layers

Chris Deacon*, Cathryn N. M. Mitchell, Robert John Watson, Ben A. Witvliet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Mid-latitude sporadic-E (Es) is an intermittent phenomenon of the lower E region of the ionosphere. Es clouds are thin, transient, and patchy layers of intense ionization, with ionization densities which can be much higher than in the background ionosphere. Oblique reflection of radio signals in the very high frequency (VHF) range is regularly supported, but the mechanism for it has never been clearly established - specular reflection, scattering, and magnetoionic double refraction have all been suggested. This article proposes using the polarization behaviour of signals reflected from intense midlatitude sporadic-E clouds as an indicator of the true reflection mechanism. Results are presented from a measurement campaign in the summer of 2018, which gathered a large amount of data at a receiving station in the UK using 50 MHz amateur radio beacons as signal sources. In all cases the signals received were elliptically polarized, despite being transmitted with linear polarization; there were also indications that polarization behaviour varied systematically with the orientation of the path to the geomagnetic field. This represents, for all the examples recorded, clear evidence that signals were reflected from midlatitude Es by magnetoionic double refraction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2022


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