Abstract: The midlatitude portion of the ionosphere is located roughly between 30° and 60° magnetic latitude, where the vast majority of radio amateurs operate. The midlatitude ionosphere has historically been considered less ‘active’ than the high-latitude auroral regions or the low-latitude equatorial zone and has received less scientific attention. However, the bulk of humanity lives at these latitudes and major vulnerabilities to space weather disturbance are found there. Some will be well-known to radio amateurs operating HF communications links. Increased interest in the midlatitude ionosphere has spurred the deployment of new observational facilities such as the midlatitude component of SuperDARN and the Personal Space Weather Station. In this tutorial, Dr. Ruohoniemi will present a review of the physics of the midlatitude ionosphere, discuss recent advancements and open questions at the frontiers of research, and consider means by which the amateur radio community can contribute to advancing scientific understanding and technical capabilities.
Dr. J. Michael Ruohoniemi is a professor of electrical engineering at Virginia Tech and Principal Investigator of the Virginia Tech Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) Laboratory
. Dr. Ruohoniemi earned his B.S. from the University of King's College and Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia in 1981 and his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in 1986. After graduation he joined the team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory that developed HF radar into the SuperDARN concept to study the auroral (high-latitude) ionosphere. As a faculty member at Virginia Tech, he led a consortium of universities in building a chain of SuperDARN radars at midlatitudes across the U.S. His scientific publications now have over 9,700 citations. Today, 12 of the more than 30 radars in the SuperDARN network make continuous observations of the midlatitude ionosphere in both hemispheres, and these observations have been instrumental in advancing midlatitude ionospheric science in numerous studies.