Installation and operation of a GNSS scintillation monitoring station in Cyprus

The objective of the project is to establish an ionospheric scintillation monitoring service in Cyprus based on the continuous operation of a scintillation monitor that will provide real-time data which will enable the study and real-time evaluation of the probability of satellite signal degradation due to extreme scintillation events. Such events may decrease the number of available satellites and consequently the possibility to get good satellite geometry in the sky thus severely degrading accuracy, reliability and availability of the GNSS service.

The proposed monitoring system is expected to complement the operation of a recently deployed modern digital digisonde (DPS-4D) and a collocated TEC monitor in Cyprus in the frame of real time monitoring of ionospheric propagation predictions. The results and the subsequent analysis of observations from coordinated measurement campaigns of the three instruments will aid towards improved understanding of the upper atmosphere environment over the Eastern Mediterranean region and especially of the morphology and climatology of ionospheric irregularities over Cyprus also enhancing the knowledge on the coupling mechanisms between mid-latitude and low-latitude ionosphere.

The operation of the monitor will facilitate the automatic collection and processing of parameters (S4-σΦ) that provide a direct indication of the extent of scintillation events which are attributed to large TEC (total electron content) gradients in the ionosphere and which directly affect the trans-ionospheric propagation of satellite signals. The data observations will be available on an on-line database along with relevant parameters (geomagnetic indices) and the users will have the option to download or to view the scintillation parameters for particular time duration of interest along with relevant ionospheric parameters provided by the digisonde.

  1. Veettil, S. Vadakke, H. Haralambous, and M. Aquino. Observations of quiet-time moderate midlatitude L-band scintillation in association with plasma bubbles GPS Solutions (2017): 1-1.
  2. Paul, A., H. Haralambous, and C. Oikonomou (2015), Characteristics of postmidnight L band scintillation in the transition region from the equatorial to midlatitudes over the Indian longitude sector using COSMIC, C/NOFS, and GPS measurements, Radio Science (AGU), 50, doi:10.1002/2015RS005807.

The basic objective of the project is the development of a novel service that will facilitate the automated, continuous and systematic monitoring of ionospheric scintillations on GNSS signals in Cyprus. This scintillation monitoring service will provide an indication of the state of the ionosphere above Cyprus that will enable potential users to assess the probability of degradation of their own service due to severe scintillation events. This service augments the existing digital ionosonde and TEC monitor in order to develop a digital data collection on the state of the upper atmosphere in the Cyprus region, based on real-time ionospheric data provided by the instruments.

The scientific aim of the project is to explore the climatology of scintillations over Cyprus and its dependence on solar and geomagnetic activity,season and time of day in order to identify the ionospheric conditions that lead to the onset of plasma instabilities. An examination of these dependencies may form the basis for the forecast of the timing and the severity of ionospheric scintillations.  Considering the increasing demand for upper-atmosphere nowcast and forecast services by various commercial users, the need to develop a service for real-time ionospheric monitoring is vital, especially considering the on-going trend for provision of similar services in other parts of the globe. In the frames of this service an effort will be undertaken to assess the impact of ionospheric scintillation on the CYPOS (Cyprus Positionong System) and on the synchronization of satellite broadband internet to mobile users.