Articles | Volume 8, issue 8
Research article
21 Aug 2015
Research article |  | 21 Aug 2015

A simulation study with a new residual ionospheric error model for GPS radio occultation climatologies

J. Danzer, S. B. Healy, and I. D. Culverwell

Abstract. In this study, a new model was explored which corrects for higher order ionospheric residuals in Global Positioning System (GPS) radio occultation (RO) data. Recently, the theoretical basis of this new "residual ionospheric error model" has been outlined (Healy and Culverwell, 2015). The method was tested in simulations with a one-dimensional model ionosphere.

The proposed new model for computing the residual ionospheric error is the product of two factors, one of which expresses its variation from profile to profile and from time to time in terms of measurable quantities (the L1 and L2 bending angles), while the other describes the weak variation with altitude. A simple integral expression for the residual error (Vorob’ev and Krasil’nikova, 1994) has been shown to be in excellent numerical agreement with the exact value, for a simple Chapman layer ionosphere. In this case, the "altitudinal" element of the residual error varies (decreases) by no more than about 25 % between ~10 and ~100 km for physically reasonable Chapman layer parameters. For other simple model ionospheres the integral can be evaluated exactly, and results are in reasonable agreement with those of an equivalent Chapman layer.

In this follow-up study the overall objective was to explore the validity of the new residual ionospheric error model for more detailed simulations, based on modeling through a complex three-dimensional ionosphere.

The simulation study was set up, simulating day and night GPS RO profiles for the period of a solar cycle with and without an ionosphere. The residual ionospheric error was studied, the new error model was tested, and temporal and spatial variations of the model were investigated. The model performed well in the simulation study, capturing the temporal variability of the ionospheric residual. Although it was not possible, due to high noise of the simulated bending-angle profiles at mid- to high latitudes, to perform a thorough latitudinal investigation of the performance of the model, first positive and encouraging results were found at low latitudes. Furthermore, first application tests of the model on the data showed a reduction in temperature level of the ionospheric residual at 40 km from about −2.2 to −0.2 K.