A model is presented of the growth rate of turbulently generated irregularities in the electron concentration of northern polar cap plasma patches. The turbulence is generated by the short-term fluctuations in the electric field imposed on the polar cap ionosphere by electric field mapping from the magnetosphere. The model uses an ionospheric imaging algorithm to specify the state of the ionosphere throughout. The growth rates are used to estimate mean amplitudes for the irregularities, and these mean amplitudes are compared with observations of the scintillation indices S-4 and sigma(phi) by calculating the linear correlation coefficients between them. The scintillation data are recorded by GPS L1 band receivers stationed at high northern latitudes. A total of 13 days are analyzed, covering four separate magnetic storm periods. These results are compared with those from a similar model of the gradient drift instability (GDI) growth rate. Overall, the results show better correlation between the GDI process and the scintillation indices than for the turbulence process and the scintillation indices. Two storms, however, show approximately equally good correlations for both processes, indicating that there might be times when the turbulence process of irregularity formation on plasma patches may be the controlling one.