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Ionospheric scintillation intensity fading characteristics and GPS receiver tracking performance at low latitudes

Guo, Kai; Aquino, Marcio; Veetill, Sreeja Vadakke


Kai Guo

Marcio Aquino

Sreeja Vadakke Veetill


Ionospheric scintillation refers to rapid fluctuations in signal amplitude/phase when radio signals propagate through irregularities in the ionosphere. The occurrence of ionospheric scintillation can severely degrade the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver tracking loop performance, with consequential effects on positioning. Under strong scintillation conditions, receivers can even lose lock on satellites, which poses serious threats to safety–critical GNSS applications and precise positioning. The characteristics of intensity fading on Global Positioning System (GPS) L1 C/A signals during the peak of the last solar cycle at the low latitude station of Presidente Prudente (Lat. 22.12°S, Long. 51.41°W, Magnetic Lat. 12.74°S) are investigated. The results show that the occurrence of scintillation at this station is extremely frequent. An analysis of the fading events revealed an inverse relationship between fading depth and duration. Mathematical models are built to investigate and explain the statistical relationship between intensity fading and the commonly used amplitude scintillation index S4. Then the GPS receiver tracking loop performance is studied in relation to fading. A conclusion can be drawn that both fading depth and duration can affect the tracking loop performance, but the tracking error variance is more strongly related to fading speed, defined as the ratio of fading depth to fading duration. The proposed study is of great significance for better understanding the ionospheric scintillation intensity fading characteristics at low latitudes. It can also contribute to the research on the effects of scintillation on GNSS as well as support the design and development of scintillation robust GNSS receivers.


Guo, K., Aquino, M., & Veetill, S. V. (2019). Ionospheric scintillation intensity fading characteristics and GPS receiver tracking performance at low latitudes. GPS Solutions, 23(2),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 13, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 27, 2019
Publication Date 2019-04
Deposit Date Feb 25, 2019
Publicly Available Date Feb 28, 2020
Journal GPS Solutions
Print ISSN 1080-5370
Electronic ISSN 1521-1886
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 2
Article Number 43
Keywords Ionospheric scintillation; Global Positioning System; Intensity fading; Tracking performance; Amplitude scintillation
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