GPS phase scintillation at high latitudes during the geomagnetic storm of 17–18 March 2015

P. Prikryl, R. Ghoddousi-Fard, J. M. Weygand, A. Viljanen, M. Connors, D. W. Danskin, P. T. Jayachandran, K. S. Jacobsen, Y. L. Andalsvik, E. G. Thomas, J. M. Ruohoniemi, T. Durgonics, K. Oksavik, Y. Zhang, E. Spanswick, M. Aquino, V. Sreeja

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55 Citations (Scopus)


The geomagnetic storm of 17–18 March 2015 was caused by the impacts of a coronal mass ejection and a high-speed plasma stream from a coronal hole. The high-latitude ionosphere dynamics is studied using arrays of ground-based instruments including GPS receivers, HF radars, ionosondes, riometers, and magnetometers. The phase scintillation index is computed for signals sampled at a rate of up to 100 Hz by specialized GPS scintillation receivers supplemented by the phase scintillation proxy index obtained from geodetic-quality GPS data sampled at 1 Hz. In the context of solar wind coupling to the magnetosphere-ionosphere system, it is shown that GPS phase scintillation is primarily enhanced in the cusp, the tongue of ionization that is broken into patches drawn into the polar cap from the dayside storm-enhanced plasma density, and in the auroral oval. In this paper we examine the relation between the scintillation and auroral electrojet currents observed by arrays of ground-based magnetometers as well as energetic particle precipitation observed by the DMSP satellites. Equivalent ionospheric currents are obtained from ground magnetometer data using the spherical elementary currents systems technique that has been applied over the ground magnetometer networks in North America and North Europe. The GPS phase scintillation is mapped to the poleward side of strong westward electrojet and to the edge of the eastward electrojet region. Also, the scintillation was generally collocated with fluxes of energetic electron precipitation observed by DMSP satellites with the exception of a period of pulsating aurora when only very weak currents were observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10,448-10,465
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct. 2016


  • GPS scintillation
  • auroral currents
  • geomagnetic storm
  • ionospheric irregularities


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