Kirby, Robert S. Research Laboratories, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Boulder, Colorado.
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A term applied to propagation of radio waves caused by irregularities in the refractive index of air. The phenomenon is predominant in the lower atmosphere; little or no scattering of importance occurs above the troposphere. Tropospheric scatter propagation provides very useful communication services but also causes harmful interference. For example, it limits the geographic separation required for frequency assignments to services such as television and frequency-modulation broadcasting, very high-frequency omnidirectional ranges, and microwave relays. It is used extensively throughout most of the world for long-distance point-to-point services, particularly where high information capacity and high reliability are required. Typical tropospheric scatter relay facilities (Fig. 1) are commonly 200–300 mi (320–480 km) apart. Some single hops in excess of 500 mi (800 km) are in regular use. High-capacity circuits carry 200–300 voice circuits simultaneously. See also: Troposphere
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