Regional model-based computerized ionospheric tomography using GPS measurements: IONOLAB-CIT
Three-dimensional imaging of the electron density distribution in the ionosphere is a crucial task for investigating the ionospheric effects. Dual-frequency Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite signals can be used to estimate the slant total electron content (STEC) along the propagation path between a GPS satellite and ground-based receiver station. However, the estimated GPS-STEC is very sparse and highly nonuniformly distributed for obtaining reliable 3-D electron density distributions derived from the measurements alone. Standard tomographic reconstruction techniques are not accurate or reliable enough to represent the full complexity of variable ionosphere. On the other hand, model-based electron density distributions are produced according to the general trends of ionosphere, and these distributions do not agree with measurements, especially for geomagnetically active hours. In this study, a regional 3-D electron density distribution reconstruction method, namely, IONOLAB-CIT, is proposed to assimilate GPS-STEC into physical ionospheric models. The proposed method is based on an iterative optimization framework that tracks the deviations from the ionospheric model in terms of F2 layer critical frequency and maximum ionization height resulting from the comparison of International Reference Ionosphere extended to Plasmasphere (IRI-Plas) model-generated STEC and GPS-STEC. The suggested tomography algorithm is applied successfully for the reconstruction of electron density profiles over Turkey, during quiet and disturbed hours of ionosphere using Turkish National Permanent GPS Network.