Journal of Geodesy

, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 169–183 | Cite as

Determination of the optimized single-layer ionospheric height for electron content measurements over China

  • Min LiEmail author
  • Yunbin YuanEmail author
  • Baocheng Zhang
  • Ningbo Wang
  • Zishen Li
  • Xifeng Liu
  • Xiao Zhang
Original Article


The ionosphere effective height (IEH) is a very important parameter in total electron content (TEC) measurements under the widely used single-layer model assumption. To overcome the requirement of a large amount of simultaneous vertical and slant ionospheric observations or dense “coinciding” pierce points data, a new approach comparing the converted vertical TEC (VTEC) value using mapping function based on a given IEH with the “ground truth” VTEC value provided by the combined International GNSS Service Global Ionospheric Maps is proposed for the determination of the optimal IEH. The optimal IEH in the Chinese region is determined using three different methods based on GNSS data. Based on the ionosonde data from three different locations in China, the altitude variation of the peak electron density (hmF2) is found to have clear diurnal, seasonal and latitudinal dependences, and the diurnal variation of hmF2 varies from approximately 210 to 520 km in Hainan. The determination of the optimal IEH employing the inverse method suggested by Birch et al. (Radio Sci 37, 2002. doi: 10.1029/2000rs002601) did not yield a consistent altitude in the Chinese region. Tests of the method minimizing the mapping function errors suggested by Nava et al. (Adv Space Res 39:1292–1297, 2007) indicate that the optimal IEH ranges from 400 to 600 km, and the height of 450 km is the most frequent IEH at both high and low solar activities. It is also confirmed that the IEH of 450–550 km is preferred for the Chinese region instead of the commonly adopted 350–450 km using the determination method of the optimal IEH proposed in this paper.


Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) Ionospheric total electron content (TEC) Mapping function Single-layer model (SLM) Global ionospheric map (GIM) Ionosphere effective height (IEH) 



We would like to acknowledge the use of data from the Chinese Meridian Project. We also acknowledge the IGS and Crustal Movement Observation Network of China (CMONOC) for providing access to GNSS data. This work was supported by the National Key Research Program of China “Collaborative Precision Positioning Project” (No.2016YFB0501900), China Natural Science Funds (No. 41231064, 41674022, 41604031, 41574015).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Geodesy and Earth’s DynamicsInstitute of Geodesy and GeophysicsWuhanChina
  2. 2.Academy of Opto-ElectronicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Henan Polytechnic UniversityJiaozuoChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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