Application of the locality principle to radio occultation studies of the Earth's atmosphere and ionosphere
Abstract. A new formulation of the previously introduced principle of locality is presented. The principle can be applied for modernization of the radio occultation (RO) remote sensing of the atmospheres and ionospheres of the Earth and other planets. The principle states that significant contributions to variations of the intensity and phase of the radio waves passing through a layered medium are connected with influence of the vicinities of tangential points where the refractivity gradient is perpendicular to the radio ray trajectory. The RO method assumes spherical symmetry of the investigated medium. In this case, if location of a tangent point relative to the spherical symmetry centre is known, the time derivatives of the RO signal phase and Doppler frequency variations can be recalculated into the refractive attenuation. Several important findings are consequences of the locality principle: (i) if position of the centre of symmetry is known, the total absorption along the ray path can be determined at a single frequency; (ii) in the case of low absorption the height, displacement from the radio ray perigee, and tilt of the inclined ionospheric (atmospheric) layers can be evaluated; (iii) the contributions of the layered and irregular structures in the RO signal can be separated and parameters of layers and turbulence can be measured at a single frequency using joint analysis of the intensity and phase variations. Specially for the Earth's troposphere, the altitude distributions of the weak total absorption (about of 1–4 db) of the radio waves at GPS frequencies corresponding to possible influence of the oxygen, water vapour, and hydrometeors can be measured with accuracy of about 0.1 db at a single frequency. In accordance with the locality principle, a new index of ionospheric activity is introduced. This index is measured from the phase variations of radio waves passing through the ionosphere. Its high correlation with the S4 scintillation index is established. This correlation indicates the significant influence of locally spherical symmetric ionospheric layers on variations of the phase and intensity of the RO signal passing through transionospheric communication links. Obtained results expand applicable domain of the RO method as a powerful remote sensing technique for geophysical and meteorological research.