Scintillating days in Svalbard

On September 8th 2017, a remarkable amount of energy coming from a solar flare hit the atmosphere causing severe fluctuations in the magnetic fields and increasing the ionization of the ionosphere.

NavSAS researcher Alex Minetto was able to observe interesting events from the Sousy Radar Station in Adventdalen, Longyaerbyen (Svalbard), in Norway. Thanks to the collaboration with INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy) and UiT (University of Tromso, Norway), highly unique data about ionospheric scintillations have been recorded by means of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio signals.

On Sunday 3 September, few days before the ESA/JRC Summer School on GNSS 2017, A. Minetto started the data collection in Adventdalen [ 78°10'10.05"N, 15°59'33.32"E), an isolated valley located at about 12 kilometers from the city of Longyearbyen in Spitsbergen (main island within the Svalbard archipelago).

Thanks to the scientific and logistic support of Vincenzo Romano and Lucilla Alfonsi from INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia), Chris Hall from UiT (University of Tromso) and Stefano Poli (Poli Arctici) we installed an automatic grabbing system based on an SDR USRP front-end and on a  Matlab GNSS Receiver developed by NavSAS group, by exploiting the GNSS antenna installed for the ISACCO project (Ionospheric Scintillations Arctic Campaign Coordinated Observations) hosted by University of Tromso at the Sousy Svalbard Radar (SSR) infrastructure.

The figures reported show the trend over time of the phase scintillation index, which is typically computed at the receiver tracking output to assess the fluctuation of the phase of the received GNSS signal, and in turn the impact of ionospheric scintillations. The comparison between the two plots outlines a significant increase of the phase scintillation.

Alex Minetto is carrying on this research in collaboration with Fabio Dovis and Nicola Linty.