Retrieval of thermospheric parameters from routine ionospheric observations: assessment of method\textquoterights performance at mid-latitudes daytime hours


A new method has been developed to retrieve neutral temperature Tn and composition [O], [N2], [O2] from electron density profiles in the daytime mid-latitude F2-region under both quiet and disturbed conditions. A comparison with CHAMP neutral gas density observations in the vicinity of Millstone Hill Incoherent Scatter Radar (ISR) has shown that the retrieved neutral gas densities coincide with the observed ones within the announced accuracy of CHAMP observations, provided that accurate Ne(h) ISR profiles are used for the retrieval. The performance of the method has also been tested ingesting Digisonde Ne(h) profiles. In this case the agreement with CHAMP neutral gas density observations is less successful. Possible factors that can influence the performance accuracy are investigated. These are mostly related to limitations due to the ionogram scaling and inversion methods, including performance limitations of the sounding technique itself, like for instance during G-conditions. Several tests presented here demonstrate that discrepancies in the hmF2 values provided by the Digisondes could have an important impact on the performance of the method. It should be noted that in all tests performed here using Digisonde Ne(h) profiles, the topside part is approximated with the NeQuick model and any assessment concerning the impact of the topside profiler on the accuracy of the method is beyond the scope of this investigation. Despite the limitations related to the use of Digisonde profiles, the proposed method has the potential to monitor the thermosphere at least with ISR Ne(h) profiles. Digisonde electron density profiles can also be used if quality improvements are made concerning the ionogram inversion methods.

Year of Publication
Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate
Number of Pages
Date Published
Download citation