Pilot network for identification of travelling ionospheric disturbances

The ionosphere is a region in the near-Earth space where a number of operations take place.

These operations are important for the peace and for the security of the citizens: telecommunication systems, navigation and surveillance systems, aircraft safety systems, all rely on signals propagating in the ionosphere and through the ionosphere. Therefore it is important to detect every moment the status of the ionosphere and be able to predict irregularities and disturbances that may affect the operation of these critical systems.
The ionosphere is affected by solar disturbances (space weather effects) and by other natural hazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, strong tropospheric convection) or artificial phenomena (nuclear explosions and other powerful blasts like industrial accidents). All these phenomena are manifested as waves travelling in the ionosphere the so-called Travelling Ionospheric Disturbances (TIDs).

In this project we propose setting up a system able to monitor the wave activity in the ionosphere, and using advanced modelling techniques to analyse the waves’ characteristics, understand their origin, predict their effects in different regions of the globe and assess their effects in operational systems.

This system will be based on powerful monitoring instruments operating on the ground. These are Digisonde Portable Sounders (DPS4D) of high accuracy in frequency and height resolution, able to analyse the signals reflected from the ionosphere to the ground and assess the structure of the overhead ionosphere plasma, i.e. whether the ionosphere is smooth or tilted due a wave propagation, and reconstruct the characteristics of the waves that altered the ionosphere.

Within the Net-TIDE project, the proposed system will be established and tested in Europe, an area where a good number of stations exist and allow us to examine if it is possible to monitor and predict successfully the propagation and the effects of these waves over the area and warn the users. In the future such a system can be extended to other world areas (this is the reason why Japan participates in our project as observer) where similar monitoring stations operate, to provide a robust, effective, and inexpensive system for the remote diagnostics of this type of ionospheric irregularities, comparing to the extremely expensive space-based systems.