Climatology of the ionospheric slab thickness along the longitude of 120° E in China and its adjacent region during the solar minimum years of 2007–2009
Abstract. The ionospheric slab thickness is defined as the ratio of the total electron content (TEC) to the ionospheric F2 layer peak electron density (NmF2). In this study, the slab thickness is determined by measuring the ionospheric TEC from dual-frequency Global Positioning System (GPS) data and the NmF2 from the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (COSMIC). A statistical analysis of the diurnal, seasonal and spatial variation in the ionospheric slab thickness is presented along the longitude of 120° E in China and its adjacent region during the recent solar minimum phase (2007–2009). The diurnal ratio, defined as the maximum slab thickness to the minimum slab thickness, and the night-to-day ratio, defined as the slab thickness during daytime to the slab thickness during night-time, are both analysed. The results show that the TEC of the northern crest is greater in winter than in summer, whereas NmF2 is greater in summer than in winter. A pronounced peak of slab thickness occurs during the post-midnight (00:00–04:00 LT) period, when the peak electron density is at the lowest level. A large diurnal ratio exists at the equatorial ionization anomaly, and a large night-to-day ratio occurs near the equatorial latitudes and mid- to high latitudes. It is found that the behaviours of the slab thickness and the F2 peak altitude are well correlated at the latitudes of 30–50° N and during the period of 10:00–16:00 LT. This current study is useful for improvement of the regional model and accurate calculation of the signal delay of radio waves propagating through the ionosphere.