Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 88, Issue 3, pp 223–240 | Cite as

Climatological study of ionospheric irregularities over the European mid-latitude sector with GPS

  • Gilles WauteletEmail author
  • René Warnant
Original Article


High-frequency variability of the ionosphere, or irregularities, constitutes the main threat for real-time precise positioning techniques based on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) measurements. Indeed, during periods of enhanced ionospheric variability, GNSS users in the field—who cannot verify the integrity of their measurements—will experience positioning errors that can reach several decimeters, while the nominal accuracy of the technique is cm-level. In the frame of this paper, a climatological analysis of irregularities over the European mid-latitude region is presented. Based on a 10 years GPS dataset over Belgium, the work analyzes the occurrence rate (as a function of the solar cycle, season and local time) as well as the amplitude of ionospheric irregularities observed at a single GPS station. The study covers irregularities either due to space weather events (solar origin) or of terrestrial origin. If space weather irregularities are responsible for the largest effects in terms of ionospheric error, their occurrence rate highly depends on solar activity. Indeed, the occurrence rate of ionospheric irregularities is about 9 % during solar maximum, whereas it drops to about 0 % during medium or low solar activity periods. Medium-scale ionospheric disturbances (MSTIDs) occurring during daytime in autumn/winter are the most recurrent pattern of the time series, with yearly proportions slightly varying with the solar cycle and an amplitude of about 10 % of the TEC background. Another recurrent irregularity type, though less frequent than MSTIDs, is the noise-like variability in TEC observed during summer nighttime, under quiet geomagnetic conditions. These summer nighttime irregularities exhibit amplitudes ranging between 8 and 15 % of the TEC background.


Ionospheric irregularities Climatological study Mid-latitude region Traveling ionospheric disturbance GPS 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geomatics UnitUniversité de Liège (B5a)LiègeBelgium

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