Global observations of E region plasma density morphology and variability

The global morphology and variability of the ionospheric E region plasma density are estimated from satellite-based radio occultation total electron content (ROTEC) measurements. Vertical profiles of E region electron density are estimated using the inversion technique recently proposed by Nicolls et al. (2009). In this technique, the F-region contribution to each ROTEC measurement is removed using an assimilative model of the ionosphere in order to mitigate the effects of F-region gradients in the estimation of E region profiles. The technique is applied to occultation observations made by GPS receivers onboard COSMIC satellites aided by F-region electron density specification provided by the Ionospheric Data Assimilation Four-Dimensional (IDA4D) algorithm. Global estimates of hmE, NmE, and E region total electron content (TEC) are presented for two different months: April 2007 and January 2008. Results of our analysis show that ROTEC measurements such as those provided by the COSMIC constellation can produce reasonable and valuable estimates of E region parameters on a global scale when properly treated for the effect of F-region density gradients. The agreement between the α-Chapman theory of ionization and recombination and estimated profiles is demonstrated. Reasonable estimates of E region variability can also be specified by the global measurements. The dependence of the E region variability on latitude is quantified and presented.
Year of Publication
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Download citation