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Amplitude scintillation index derived from C/N0 measurements released by common geodetic GNSS receivers operating at 1 Hz

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Two widely used scintillation indexes \( S_{4} \) and \( \sigma_{\varphi } \) are generated by dedicated ionospheric scintillation monitoring receivers (ISMRs), which typically have 50-Hz temporal resolution and thus require substantial memory capabilities. Taking into consideration the huge number of common Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers, the derivation of a GNSS receiver-based scintillation index as a supplement to the ISMR indexes is expected to improve the study of ionospheric scintillation. We developed an amplitude scintillation index, \( S_{{4{\text{c}}}} \), which is derived from the carrier-to-noise density ratio (\( C/N_{0} \)) data released by common geodetic GNSS receivers operating at 1-Hz. The reliability of the \( S_{{4{\text{c}}}} \) index is compared with the typical scintillation index \( S_{4} \) of three ISMRs located in Hong Kong and Brazil. The statistics indicate that during scintillation activity, the correlation coefficient between \( S_{{4{\text{c}}}} \) (derived from common receivers) and \( S_{4} \) (generated by ISMRs) is generally higher than 0.9. The reliability of \( S_{{4{\text{c}}}} \) was also verified based on 1-year observations from two adjacent stations in Hong Kong, which are equipped with Leica GR50 and Septentrio PolaRxS Pro receivers, respectively. Long-term scintillation occurrence (\( S_{{4{\text{c}}}} \) > 0.2 vs. \( S_{4} \) > 0.2) rates show good agreement between \( S_{{4{\text{c}}}} \) and \( S_{4} \). In addition, two-dimensional \( S_{{4{\text{c}}}} \) maps (1° × 1°) generated by GPS L1 and BDS B1 signals data collected at 117 continuous operation tracking stations in China clearly show post-sunset super plasma bubbles as the source of ionospheric scintillation during the main phase of the intense storm that occurred on September 8, 2017. These results demonstrate the feasibility of using the \( S_{{4{\text{c}}}} \) index derived from the large volume of GNSS observations recorded by non-scintillation GNSS receivers for the study and monitoring of ionospheric scintillation.

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Data availability

GPS scintillation data in HK are provided by the Department of Land Surveying and Geo-Informatics of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which can be accessed from The Scintillation data in Brazil are provided by the INCT GNSS NavAer that extended the CIGALA/CALIBRA Network ( GNSS data are released by the IGS data centre CDDIS at, the Lands Department of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) at The in situ electron density measurements of Swarm satellites are available at


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This work was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (Nos. 2017YFB0503401 and 2016YFB0501802). We appreciate the very helpful guidance and advice provided by Prof. Dr. João Francisco Galera Monico at São Paulo State University, Brazil, by Dr. Chao Xiong at the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Germany and by Dr. Biyan Chen at Central South University, China. The authors are also grateful to the three reviewers for their constructive comments regarding to this paper.

Author information

Y.L., S.G., and X.L. designed the research; X.L., L.C., and S.G. performed the research; Z.L. provided and analysed the scintillation data. X.L., S.G., L.C., and Z.L. analysed the data; X.L. drafted the paper. All authors discussed, commented on and reviewed the manuscript.

Correspondence to Shengfeng Gu.

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Luo, X., Gu, S., Lou, Y. et al. Amplitude scintillation index derived from C/N0 measurements released by common geodetic GNSS receivers operating at 1 Hz. J Geod 94, 27 (2020).

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  • Scintillation indexes
  • Carrier-to-noise density ratio (\( C/N_{0} \))
  • Ionospheric scintillation monitoring receivers (ISMRs)
  • Common geodetic GNSS receivers
  • Ionospheric irregularities and scintillations