Long-term comparison of the ionospheric F2 layer electron density peak derived from ionosonde data and Formosat-3/COSMIC occultations

Marco Limberger, Manuel Hernández-Pajares, Angela Aragón-Ángel, David Altadill, Denise Dettmering

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Electron density profiles (EDPs) derived from GNSS radio occultation (RO) measurements provide valuable information on the vertical electron density structure of the ionosphere and, among others, allow the extraction of key parameters such as the maximum electron density NmF2 and the corresponding peak height hmF2 of the F2 layer. An efficient electron density retrieval method, developed at the UPC (Barcelona, Spain), has been applied in this work to assess the accuracy of NmF2and hmF2 as determined from Formosat-3/COSMIC (F-3/C) radio occultation measurements for a period of more than half a solar cycle between 2006 and 2014. Ionosonde measurements of the Space Physics Interactive Data Resource (SPIDR) network serve as a reference. Investigations on the global trend as well as comparisons of the F2 layer electron density peaks derived from both occultations and ionosonde measurements are carried out. The studies are performed in the global domain and with the distinction of different latitude sectors around the magnetic equator ±[0°, 20°], ±]20°, 60°] and ±]60°, 90°]) and local times (LT) accounting for different ionospheric conditions at night (02:00 LT ± 2 h), dawn (08:00 LT ± 2 h), and day (14:00 LT ± 2 h). The mean differences of F2 layer electron density peaks observed by F-3/C and ionosondes are found to be insignificant. Relative variations of the peak differences are determined in the range of 22%-30% for NmF2 and 10%-15% for hmF2. The consistency of observations is generally high for the equatorial and mid-latitude sectors at daytime and dawn whereas degradations have been detected in the polar regions and during night. It is shown, that the global averages of NmF2 and hmF2 derived from F-3/C occultations appear as excellent indicators for the solar activity.

Idioma originalAnglès
Número d’article2015023
RevistaJournal of Space Weather and Space Climate
Estat de la publicacióPublicada - 2015


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