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Spherical cap harmonic model for mapping and predicting regional TEC

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An approach to modeling the regional ionospheric total electron content (TEC) based on spherical cap harmonic analysis is presented. This approach not only provides a better regional TEC mapping accuracy, but also the capability for ionospheric model prediction based on spectrum analysis and least squares collocation. Unlike conventional approaches, which predict the immediate TEC with models using current observations, the spherical cap harmonic approach utilizes models using past observations to predict a model which will provide future TEC values. A significant advantage in comparison with conventional approaches is that the spherical cap harmonic approach can be used to predict the long-term TEC with reasonable accuracy. This study processes a set of GPS data with an observation time span of 1 year from two GPS networks in China. The TEC mapping accuracy of the spherical cap harmonic model is compared with the polynomial model and the global ionosphere model from IGS. The results show that the spherical cap harmonic model has a better TEC mapping accuracy with smoother residual distributions in both temporal and spatial domains. The TEC prediction with the spherical cap harmonic model has been investigated for both short- and long-term intervals. For the short-term interval, the prediction accuracies for the latencies of 1-day, 2-days, and 3-days are 2.5 TECU, 3.5 TECU, and 4.5 TECU, respectively. For the long-term interval, the prediction accuracy is 4.5 TECU for a 2-month latency.

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This work was supported from Chinese National Key Basic Research and Development Program funding (973 Program, 2009CB724002).

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Correspondence to Jingbin Liu.

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Liu, J., Chen, R., Wang, Z. et al. Spherical cap harmonic model for mapping and predicting regional TEC. GPS Solut 15, 109–119 (2011).

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