• Radio wave propagation in the arctic

      Little, C.G. (Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, 1955-08-15)
      The report is divided into six main sections. The first five deal in turn with the five main Tasks specified in the contract; the sixth describes three other phases of work also concerned with radio wave propagation in the Territory. The progress in these various fields is summarized very briefly below. Task No. 1 Sweep-frequency Ionospheric Back-Scatter No progress was made on this task, owing to lack of equipment. Task No. 2 Auroral Radar Echoes An SCR-270 radar was modified for auroral radar research, and two main investigations were carried out with this equipment. The first one was to determine the mode of propagation of V.H.F. auroral echoes; the results showed conclusively that a strong aspect sensitivity exists, due to the auroral ionization being aligned along the lines of force of the earth's magnetic field. The second investigation was to determine the relationship between the radar echoes and the occurrence of visual aurora; these observations showed that the radar echoes are usually closely associated in range and azimuth with visual aurora, but that the visual brightness of the aurora is not the factor controlling the strengths of the echoes. No echoes were obtained at frequencies greater than 106 mc, owing to lack of suitable equipment. Task No. 3 Investigation of Microwave Link The experimental, observations carried out on this link showed the absence of significant tropospheric refraction effects, and the work has now been terminated. Task No. k Prediction of Auroral and Ionospheric Storms The prediction of aurora and ionospheric storms presumes a thorough understanding of the phenomena. A brief review is given of the source of the disturbances, a stream of ionized particles from the sun, and the several influences which are observed during £nd subsequent to the bombardment of the atmosphere by these particles. Research in several phases of the problem which are in progress at the Institute are mentioned as well as that which is being done on this contract. The principle effort during the past year on this contract was development of some techniques for a better understanding of the aurora. These are the all-sky camera which is being used to study the development of an auroral display and the photoelectric photometer which appears to be useful in supplying data for an index of auroral activity. Some preliminary results from both of these equipments are presented. Task No. 5 Whistlers Observations have shown the fairly frequent occurrence of whistlers at College during the early part of July 1955» Tape recordings of some of these whistlers are now being analysed to determine their frequency dispersion. Additional Work Three main phases of additional work, dealing respectively with the tropospheric propagation of V.H.F. radio waves, the diffraction and scattering of V.H.F. radio waves by mountains, and the absorption of H.F. radio waves of the ionosphere were carried out at the Geophysical Institute. Numbers one and three of these were conducted at the request of the Alaskan Command, U.S. Air Force; the second problem was investigated in view of its possible importance in point-to-point communication in the Territory.
    • Radio wave propagation in the arctic

      Little, C.G.; Dyce, R.B.; Hessler, V. P.; Leonard, R. S.; Owren, L.; Roof, R. B.; Sugiura, M.; Swenson, G. W. Jr (Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska, 1956)
      The main body of this report is divided into eight sections, corresponding to the eight aspects of Arctic radio wave propagation listed in Section I, Purposes of the Contract, In cases where the work has already been fully described in Interim Scientific Report No. 1 (AFCRC-TN- 55-579, here in after referred to as R(l)), brief summaries only are given. The progress in these eight fields is summarized as follows: Task No. 1 Sweep-Frequency Ionospheric Backscatter Because of lack of equipment, no progress was made on this task. Task No. 2 Auroral and Meteor Echoes Three frequencies were used in this work: (a) At 50 me A low“power9 50 me radar equipments specially designed and built for auroral radar research, was operated with a steerable antenna to monitor both auroral and meteor activity,, The results showed that the diurnal distribution of meteor activity is similar at College to that observed elsewhere, and that the meteor echo rates observed on this equipment are not affected by the presence of aurora. (b) At 106 me The 106 me SCR 270 DA radar was used for two main experiments, as described in R(l). First, the aspect sensitivity of the auroral echoes was investigated. The results showed clearly that the auroral ionization giving rise to VHF auroral radar echoes is aligned along the earth's magnetic lines of force3 in that the auroral radar echoes are strongest when the radio waves are traveling perpendicularly to the magnetic lines of force through the aurora. Second, the relationship between visual and radar aurora was investigated; this work showed that the auroral radar echoes are often closely associated in range and azimuth with visual aurora, although the strength of the echoes is not proportional to the visual brightness of the auroral forms„ (c) At 210 me The 210 me SA-2 radar was installed in a trailer and tested without modification, It was then modified by the building of a steerable 16-Yagi array, by increasing the pulse length, and by reducing the receiver bandwidth„ Simultaneous operation of the 50 me and the improved 210 me equipment resulted in the detection of many auroral echoes at the lower frequency; no auroral (or meteor) echoes were obtained on the 210 me equipment during the contract period although good mountain * echoes were obtained at ranges up to 250 km„ Task No„ 3 Investigation of Microwave Link As explained in R(l), the experimental observations carried out on this link showed the absence of significant tropospheric refraction effects, and the work was terminated at the end of the first year of the contract. Task No. 4 Prediction of Auroral and Ionospheric Storms Several types of work were undertaken in order to improve our understanding of auroral and ionospheric storms; these storms are two aspects of the bombardment of the upper atmosphere by particles from the sun, In particular, a solar radio interferometer was set up to monitor the solar radio emissions at 65 me As described in R(l), an all sky camera and a photoelectric photometer were developed for the monitoring of the visual auroral activity. An investigation of earth potentials has shown that they provide a simple method of monitoring magnetic activity; some tests were also made using a rapid-response electronic magnetometer. Some of the results obtained with these equipments are discussed in the report. A study of the form of the front surface of a neutral corpuscular stream advancing into a magnetic field similar to the earth's magnetic field is presented. This study shows the presence of equatorial and polar forbidden zones and the fact that only the particles arriving near the border between these forbidden zones can reach the earth's upper atmosphere. An equatorial motion of the zone of bombardment could be produced by an increase either in particle density or in particle velocity. Task No. 5 Whistlers A new type of whistler has been discovered that has simultaneous rising and descending components. Analysis of data obtained during the contract period indicates a diurnal variation in the rate of occurrence of whistlers that appears to be correlated with ionospheric heights. A correlation between the day-to- day occurrence of the dawn chorus and the daily K-index sums is also found. Task No. 6 Diffraction and Scatter of Radio Waves by Mountains (a) Diffraction The diffraction of VHF radio waves by mountains has been investigated over three diffraction paths. The results show that the experimentally observed signal strengths are in fair agreement with the values calculated theoretically using knife-edge approximations. One important observation, which has not been reported previously, is the variability of the diffracted signal strength from point to point across the ground. Also, although diffracted signals are normally described as being very constant in amplitude, slow fades lasting some hours and occurring over a relatively narrow frequency band were observed over one 200- mile path. (b) Mountain scatter Observations of mountain scatter were made using the SCR-270 DA radar and a mobile receiving equipment. The results imply that detectable scattered signals can be obtained over a very wide range of azimuths (greater than + 135°) relative to the line joining the transmitter and the mountain. It was found that the scattered signals were considerably broadened in pulse length.Task No. 7 Ionospheric Absorption The work done in connection with ionospheric absorption under this contract has been described previously in R(l). Undertaken at the request of the 58th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, USAF, this study demonstrated convincingly that their communication failures were caused by ionospheric absorption phenomena, rather than by equipment or personnel failures. Task No. 8 Assistance to the Alaska Air Command on Problems of Radio Propagation As described in R(l), an investigation of a VHF radio link was made at the request of the Alaska Air Command. Continuous records of received signal strength at each end of the link revealed that the communication failures were caused by tropospheric refraction effects. A low-noise preamplifier, built and operated in parallel with a normal equipment, was found to reduce the number of fade-outs. A one-day symposium on Arctic radio wave propagation was held at the Geophysical Institute on January 26, 1956, for the benefit of communications personnel in the territory,, Approximately fifty visitors attended these meetings. The Geophysical Institute has also assisted the Alaska Air Command by the loan of electronic equipment and pen recorders as well as by supplying specialists who have acted in an advisory capacity on problems of radio wave propagation.