Articles | Volume 29, issue 2
02 Feb 2011
 | 02 Feb 2011

Topside ionospheric vertical electron density profile reconstruction using GPS and ionosonde data: possibilities for South Africa

P. Sibanda and L. A. McKinnell

Abstract. Successful empirical modeling of the topside ionosphere relies on the availability of good quality measured data. The Alouette, ISIS and Intercosmos-19 satellite missions provided large amounts of topside sounder data, but with limited coverage of relevant geophysical conditions (e.g., geographic location, diurnal, seasonal and solar activity) by each individual mission. Recently, methods for inferring the electron density distribution in the topside ionosphere from Global Positioning System (GPS)-based total electron content (TEC) measurements have been developed. This study is focused on the modeling efforts in South Africa and presents the implementation of a technique for reconstructing the topside ionospheric electron density (Ne) using a combination of GPS-TEC and ionosonde measurements and empirically obtained Upper Transition Height (UTH). The technique produces reasonable profiles as determined by the global models already in operation. With the added advantage that the constructed profiles are tied to reliable measured GPS-TEC and the empirically determined upper transition height, the technique offers a higher level of confidence in the resulting Ne profiles.