GPS Solutions

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 105–110 | Cite as

Performance of the improved Abel transform to estimate electron density profiles from GPS occultation data

  • M. Garcia-FernandezEmail author
  • M. Hernandez-Pajares
  • J. M. Juan
  • J. Sanz
Original Article


The Abel inversion is a straightforward tool to retrieve high-resolution vertical profiles of electron density from GPS radio occultations gathered by low earth orbiters (LEO). Nevertheless, the classical approach of this technique is limited by the assumption that the electron density in the vicinity of the occultation depends only on height (i.e., spherical symmetry), which is not realistic particularly in low-latitude regions or during ionospheric storms. Moreover, with the advent of recent satellite missions with orbits placed around 400 km (such as CHAMP satellite), an additional issue has to be dealt with: the treatment of the electron content above the satellite orbits. This paper extends the performance study of a method, proposed by the authors in previous works, which tackles both problems using an assumption of electron-density separability between the vertical total electron content and a shape function. This allows introducing horizontal information into the classic Abel inversion. Moreover, using both positive and negative elevation data makes it feasible to take into account the electron content above the LEO as well. Different data sets involving different periods of the solar cycle, periods of the day and satellites are studied in this work, confirming the benefits of this improved Abel transform approach.


Shape Function Electron Content Radio Occultation Slab Thickness Vertical Total Electron Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We acknowledge to UCAR in Colorado, ISDC in GeoForschungsZentrum and Prof. Victor Rios of the Universidad de Tucuman, Argentina, for the GPSMET, CHAMP and SAC-C data, respectively. Data from Taiwan ionosonde was provided by Prof. Yuei-An Liou of the Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research Institute, Taiwan. The global TEC maps have been retrieved from the International GPS Service. Ionosonde parameters have been extracted from SPIDR web server. This work has been partially supported by “Generalitat de Catalunya” with scholarship 2000FI-00395 and projects TIC-2000-0104-P4-03 and TIC-2001-2356-C02-02.


  1. Bilitza D (1990) International Reference Ionosphere 1990. URSI/COSPAR, NSSDC/WDC-A-R¥ & S 90–22Google Scholar
  2. Dudeney JR (1983) The accuracy of simple methods for determining the height of the maximum electron concentration of the F2 layer from scaled ionospheric characteristics. J Atmos Terr Phys 45:629Google Scholar
  3. Garcia-Fernandez M, Hernandez-Pajares M, Juan JM, Sanz J (2003) Improvement of ionospheric electron density estimation with GPSMET occultation using Abel inversion and VTEC information. J Geophys Res Space Phys 108(A9):1338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Garcia-Fernandez M, Aragon A, Hernandez-Pajares M, Juan JM, Sanz J (2004) Ionospheric tomography with GPS data from CHAMP and SAC-C. In: Proceedings of the 2nd CHAMP Science Meeting (in press)Google Scholar
  5. Hajj GA, Romans L (1998) Ionospheric electron density profiles obtained with the Global Positioning System: results from the GPS/MET experiment. Radio Sci 33(1):175–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hajj GA, Lee LC, Pi X, Romans LJ, Schreiner WS, Straus PR, Wang C (2000) COSMIC GPS ionospheric sensing and space weather. Terr Atmos Oceanic Sci 11:235–272Google Scholar
  7. Hardy K, Hajj GA, Kursinski E, Ibañez-Meier R (1993) Accuracies of atmospheric profiles obtained from GPS occultations. In: Proceedings of the ION GPS-93 conference, pp 1545–1556Google Scholar
  8. Hernandez-Pajares M, Juan JM, Sanz J (2000) Improving the Abel inversion by adding ground data to LEO radio occultations in the ionospheric sounding. Geogr Res Lett 27(16):2743–2746Google Scholar
  9. Rishbeth H, Sedgemeore-Schulthess KFG, Ulich T (2000) Semiannual and annual variations in the height of the ionospheric F2-peak. Ann Geophys 18:185–299Google Scholar
  10. Schreiner W, Hunt DC, Rocken C, Sokolovskiy S (1998) Precise GPS data processing for the GPSMET radio occultation mission at UCAR. In: Proceedings of the Institute of Navigation/Navigation 2000, Alexandria, Virginia, pp 103–112Google Scholar
  11. Schreiner W, Sokolovskiy S, Rocken C, Hunt D (1999) Analysis and validation of GPS/MET radio occultation data in the ionosphere. Radio Sci 34(4):949–966CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Syndergaard S (2002) A new algorithm for retrieving GPS radio occultation total electron content. Geophys Res Lett 29(16):1808Google Scholar
  13. Titheridge JE (1998) The real height analysis of ionograms: a generalized formulation. Radio Sci 23:831–849Google Scholar
  14. Zhang SR, Fukao S, Oliver WL, Otsuka Y (1999) The height of the maximum ionospheric electron density over the MU radar. J Atmos Solar Terr Phys 61:1367–1383CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Garcia-Fernandez
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • M. Hernandez-Pajares
    • 2
  • J. M. Juan
    • 2
  • J. Sanz
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere (RISH)Kyoto UniversityUji, KyotoJapan
  2. 2.Research group of Astronomy and Geomatics (gAGE), Applied Math. Dept. IVTechnical Polytechnic University (UPC)BarcelonaSpain

Personalised recommendations