Challenges to Equatorial Plasma Bubble and Ionospheric Scintillation Short-Term Forecasting and Future Aspects in East and Southeast Asia

Guozhu Li, Baiqi Ning, Yuichi Otsuka, Mangalathayil Ali Abdu, Prayitno Abadi, Zhizhao Liu, Luca Spogli, Weixing Wan

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Equatorial plasma bubbles (EPBs) can cause rapid fluctuations in amplitude and phase of radio signals traversing the ionosphere and in turn produce serious ionospheric scintillations and disrupt satellite-based communication links. Whereas numerous studies on the generation and evolution of EPBs have been performed, the prediction of EPB and ionospheric scintillation occurrences still remains unresolved. The generalized Rayleigh–Taylor (R–T) instability has been widely accepted as the physical mechanism responsible for the generation of EPBs. But how the factors, which seed the development of R–T instability and control the dynamics of EPBs and resultant ionospheric scintillations, change on a short-term basis are not clear. In the East and Southeast Asia, there exist significant differences in the generation rates of EPBs at closely located stations, for example, Kototabang (0.2°S, 100.3°E) and Sanya (18.3°N, 109.6°E), indicating that the decorrelation distance of EPB generation is small (hundreds of kilometers) in longitude. In contrast, after the initial generation of EPBs at one longitude, they can drift zonally more than 2000 km and extend from the magnetic equator to middle latitudes of 40° or higher under some conditions. These features make it difficult to identify the possible seeding sources for the EPBs and to accurately predict their occurrence, especially when the onset locations of EPBs are far outside the observation sector. This paper presents a review on the current knowledge of EPBs and ionospheric scintillations in the East and Southeast Asia, including their generation mechanism and occurrence morphology, and discusses some unresolved issues related to their short-term forecasting, including (1) what factors control the generation of EPBs, its day-to-day variability and storm-time behavior, (2) what factors control the evolution and lifetime of EPBs, and (3) how to accurately determine ionospheric scintillation from EPB measurements. Special focus is given to the whole process of the EPB generation, development and disruption. The current observing capabilities, future new facilities and campaign observations in the East and Southeast Asia in helping to better understand the short-term variability of EPBs and ionospheric scintillations are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSurveys in Geophysics
Early online date5 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Sep 2020


  • Equatorial plasma bubble
  • Ionospheric scintillation
  • Short-term variability
  • The East and Southeast Asia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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