Total Electron Content (TEC) estimation over Pakistan from local GPS network using spherical harmonics

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Maria Mehmood
Sajid Saleem
Renato Filjar
Najam Abbas Naqvi
Arslan Ahmed


Many organizations allow GNSS users to access Global Ionosphere Maps (GIMS). However, the TEC estimates derived from GIMs are of insufficient quality to describe small-scale TEC variations over Pakistan. In this paper, the first local TEC map over Pakistan for the year 2019, derived from a regional GPS network, is presented. Spherical harmonics expansion is employed to estimate TEC with the spatial resolution of latitude 0.2° x longitude 0.2° and temporal resolution of 5 minutes. The impact of changing the degree/order of harmonics is assessed and it is determined that harmonic expansion up to 6 degrees is sufficient for estimating accurate TEC map for the region of interest. We have demonstrated that the TEC maps of Pakistan generated by local model conform better to the GIM by Center of Orbit Determination (CODE) (RMS = 5.83) as compared to International Reference Ionosphere (IRI-2016) (RMS = 7.18). We found that the TEC estimated by the local model shows a better correlation to measured TEC; CODE-GIM overestimated TEC, while IRI-2016 underestimates it. Moreover, it was observed that TEC peaks during noon (1100-0100 LT) and Equinox (April). The residuals of local TEC estimates with respect to TEC obtained from CODE- GIM indicate the inaccuracy of CODE-GIM over the region of Pakistan: highest deviation of TEC from local model with respect to CODE –GIM was observed in April (RMS = 8.73) and minimum in October (RMS = 2.78). We have also analyzed the performance of our maps in geomagnetically disturbed days. The research presented in this paper will contribute towards the ionosphere study over Pakistan, where limited research is available currently.

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Mehmood M, Saleem S, Filjar R, Naqvi NA, Ahmed A. Total Electron Content (TEC) estimation over Pakistan from local GPS network using spherical harmonics. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2021Mar.15 [cited 2022May28];64(1):GD102. Available from: