Combination of different space-geodetic observations for regional ionosphere modeling
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- Dettmering, D., Schmidt, M., Heinkelmann, R. et al. J Geod (2011) 85: 989. doi:10.1007/s00190-010-0423-1
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Most of the space-geodetic observation techniques can be used for modeling the distribution of free electrons in the Earth’s ionosphere. By combining different techniques one can take advantage of their different spatial and temporal distributions as well as their different observation characteristics and sensitivities concerning ionospheric parameter estimation. The present publication introduces a procedure for multi-dimensional ionospheric modeling. The model consists of a given reference part and an unknown correction part expanded in terms of B-spline functions. This approach is used to compute regional models of Vertical Total Electron Content (VTEC) based on the International Reference Ionosphere (IRI 2007) and GPS observations from terrestrial Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) reference stations, radio occultation data from Low Earth Orbiters (LEOs), dual-frequency radar altimetry measurements, and data obtained by Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). The approach overcomes deficiencies in the climatological IRI model and reaches the same level of accuracy than GNSS-based VTEC maps from IGS. In areas without GNSS observations (e.g., over the oceans) radio occultations and altimetry provide valuable measurements and further improve the VTEC maps. Moreover, the approach supplies information on the offsets between different observation techniques as well as on their different sensitivity for ionosphere modeling. Altogether, the present procedure helps to derive improved ionospheric corrections (e.g., for one-frequency radar altimeters) and at the same time it improves our knowledge on the Earth’s ionosphere.