Articles | Volume 30, issue 2
Regular paper
08 Feb 2012
Regular paper |  | 08 Feb 2012

A short-term ionospheric forecasting empirical regional model (IFERM) to predict the critical frequency of the F2 layer during moderate, disturbed, and very disturbed geomagnetic conditions over the European area

M. Pietrella

Abstract. A short-term ionospheric forecasting empirical regional model (IFERM) has been developed to predict the state of the critical frequency of the F2 layer (foF2) under different geomagnetic conditions.

IFERM is based on 13 short term ionospheric forecasting empirical local models (IFELM) developed to predict foF2 at 13 ionospheric observatories scattered around the European area. The forecasting procedures were developed by taking into account, hourly measurements of foF2, hourly quiet-time reference values of foF2 (foF2QT), and the hourly time-weighted accumulation series derived from the geomagnetic planetary index ap, (ap(τ)), for each observatory.

Under the assumption that the ionospheric disturbance index ln(foF2/foF2QT) is correlated to the integrated geomagnetic disturbance index ap(τ), a set of statistically significant regression coefficients were established for each observatory, over 12 months, over 24 h, and under 3 different ranges of geomagnetic activity. This data was then used as input to compute short-term ionospheric forecasting of foF2 at the 13 local stations under consideration.

The empirical storm-time ionospheric correction model (STORM) was used to predict foF2 in two different ways: scaling both the hourly median prediction provided by IRI (STORM_foF2MED,IRI model), and the foF2QT values (STORM_foF2QT model) from each local station.

The comparison between the performance of STORM_foF2MED,IRI, STORM_foF2QT, IFELM, and the foF2QT values, was made on the basis of root mean square deviation (r.m.s.) for a large number of periods characterized by moderate, disturbed, and very disturbed geomagnetic activity.

The results showed that the 13 IFELM perform much better than STORM_foF2,sub>MED,IRI and STORM_foF2QT especially in the eastern part of the European area during the summer months (May, June, July, and August) and equinoctial months (March, April, September, and October) under disturbed and very disturbed geomagnetic conditions, respectively. The performance of IFELM is also very good in the western and central part of the Europe during the summer months under disturbed geomagnetic conditions. STORM_foF2MED,IRI performs particularly well in central Europe during the equinoctial months under moderate geomagnetic conditions and during the summer months under very disturbed geomagnetic conditions.

The forecasting maps generated by IFERM on the basis of the results provided by the 13 IFELM, show very large areas located at middle-high and high latitudes where the foF2 predictions quite faithfully match the foF2 measurements, and consequently IFERM can be used for generating short-term forecasting maps of foF2 (up to 3 h ahead) over the European area.