The local ionospheric modeling by integration ground GPS observations and satellite altimetry data

Mohammad Ali Sharifi, Saeed Farzaneh


The free electrons in the ionosphere have a strong impact on the propagation of radio waves. When the signals pass through the ionosphere, both their group and phase velocity are disturbed. Several space geodetic techniques such as satellite altimetry, low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite and very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) can be used to model the total electron content. At present, the classical input data for development of ionospheric models are based on dual-frequency GPS observations, However, a major problem with this observation type is the nonuniform distribution of the terrestrial GPS reference stations with large gaps notably over the sea surface and ocean where only some single stations are located on islands, leading to lower the precision of the model over these areas. In these regions the dual-frequency satellite altimeters provide precise information about the parameters of the ionosphere. Combination of GPS and satellite altimetry observations allows making best use of the advantages of their different spatial and temporal distributions. In this study, the local ionosphere modeling was done by the combination of space geodetic observations using spherical Slepian function. The combination of the data from ground GPS observations over the western part of the USA and the altimetry mission Jason-2 was performed on the normal equation level in the least-square procedure and a least-square variance component estimation (LS-VCE) was applied to take into account the different accuracy levels of the observations. The integrated ionosphere model is more accurate and more reliable than the results derived from the ground GPS observations over the oceans.


Slepian function; LS-VCE; Satellite altimetry; GPS; Local ionospheric modeling

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X