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We introduce a network observation of anomalous long-distance propagation of aeronautical navigation (NAV) very high-frequency (VHF) radio waves due to sporadic E layer (Es). The system has been operative since May 2019 at 6 stations in Japan. The receiver consists of a log-periodic antenna, air-band filter, software-defined radio and small computer which is capable of recording the strength of radio signals in the frequency band from 98 to 118 MHz with a temporal resolution of 2 s. The receiver covers not only the NAV band including VHF omnidirectional radio range (VOR), instrument landing system localizer (ILS LOC) and ground-based augmentation system VHF data broadcast (GBAS VDB) from 108 to 118 MHz, but also broadcasting channels from 98 to 108 MHz. Soon after the start of the full operation of the network observation, a strong Es event was detected by an ionosonde in Tokyo during the daytime on July 4, 2019, in which foEs (critical frequency of Es) was sometimes higher than 15 MHz. The VHF radio wave monitoring system detected multiple signatures of Es anomalous propagation (EsAP) at all the stations extending from Okinawa to Hokkaido. At some stations, the EsAP signatures continued for a few hours with some brief intervals of disappearance. The observed correspondence between the enhancement of foEs and the occurrence of anomalous propagation confirmed that an extreme electron density enhancement within Es caused the anomalous long-distance propagation of VHF NAV signals. The data from this network observation can be browsed at http://gwave.cei.uec.ac.jp/cgi-bin/vor/vhf.cgi in near real-time basis. This near real-time monitoring capability allows people in the aeronautical operation community such as air navigation service providers, pilots, and airline engineers to check the propagation environment of VHF NAV signals online, which contributes to a mitigation of ionospheric space weather impacts on the aeronautical navigation systems. Not only that the current method for detecting Es in a wide area can be used to visualize the spatial distribution of Es in two-dimensional fashion through a combination of other observation techniques such as ionosondes and total electron content (TEC) measurements using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signals.[Figure not available: see fulltext.].
Hosokawa, K., Sakai, J., Tomizawa, I., Saito, S., Tsugawa, T., Nishioka, M., & Ishii, M. (2020). A monitoring network for anomalous propagation of aeronautical VHF radio waves due to sporadic E in Japan. Earth, Planets and Space, 72(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40623-020-01216-z