Articles | Volume 27, issue 5
07 May 2009
 | 07 May 2009

A recurrent neural network approach to quantitatively studying solar wind effects on TEC derived from GPS; preliminary results

J. B. Habarulema, L.-A. McKinnell, and B. D. L. Opperman

Abstract. This paper attempts to describe the search for the parameter(s) to represent solar wind effects in Global Positioning System total electron content (GPS TEC) modelling using the technique of neural networks (NNs). A study is carried out by including solar wind velocity (Vsw), proton number density (Np) and the Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF Bz) obtained from the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite as separate inputs to the NN each along with day number of the year (DN), hour (HR), a 4-month running mean of the daily sunspot number (R4) and the running mean of the previous eight 3-hourly magnetic A index values (A8). Hourly GPS TEC values derived from a dual frequency receiver located at Sutherland (32.38° S, 20.81° E), South Africa for 8 years (2000–2007) have been used to train the Elman neural network (ENN) and the result has been used to predict TEC variations for a GPS station located at Cape Town (33.95° S, 18.47° E). Quantitative results indicate that each of the parameters considered may have some degree of influence on GPS TEC at certain periods although a decrease in prediction accuracy is also observed for some parameters for different days and seasons. It is also evident that there is still a difficulty in predicting TEC values during disturbed conditions. The improvements and degradation in prediction accuracies are both close to the benchmark values which lends weight to the belief that diurnal, seasonal, solar and magnetic variabilities may be the major determinants of TEC variability.