Solar cycle effects on GNSS-derived ionospheric total electron content observed over Southern Africa

by Moeketsi, D. M.

Abstract (Summary)
The South African Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network of dual frequency receivers provide an opportunity to investigate solar cycle effects on ionospheric Total Electron Content (TEC) over the South Africa region by taking advantage of the dispersive nature of the ionospheric medium. For this task, the global University of New Brunswick Ionospheric Modelling Technique (UNB-IMT) was adopted, modified and applied to compute TEC using data from the southern African GNSS Network. TEC values were compared with CODE International GNSS services TEC predictions and Ionosonde-derived TEC (ITEC) measurements to test and validate the UNB-IMT results over South Africa. It was found that the variation trends of GTEC and ITEC over all stations are in good agreement and show pronounced seasonal variations with high TEC values around equinoxes for a year near solar maximum and less pronounced around solar minimum. Signature TEC depletions and enhanced spikes were prevalently evident around equinoxes, particularly for a year near solar maximum. These observations were investigated and further discussed with an analysis of the midday Disturbance Storm Time (DST) index of geomagnetic activity. The residual GTEC – ITEC corresponding to plasmaspheric electron content and equivalent ionospheric foF2 and total slab thickness parameters were computed and comprehensively discussed. The results verified the use of UNB-IMT as one of the tools for ionospheric research over South Africa. The UNB-IMT algorithm was applied to investigate TEC variability during different epochs of solar cycle 23. The results were investigated and further discussed by analyzing the GOES 8 and 10 satellites X-ray flux (0.1 – 0.8 nm) and SOHO Solar Extreme Ultraviolet Monitor higher resolution data. Comparison of UNB-IMT TEC derived from collocated HRAO and HARB GNSS receivers was undertaken for the solar X17 and X9 flare events, which occurred on day 301, 2003 and day 339, 2006. It was found that there exist considerable TEC differences between the two collocated receivers with some evidence of solar cycle dependence. Furthermore, the daytime UNB TEC compared with the International Reference Ionosphere 2001 predicted TEC found both models to show a good agreement. The UNB-IMT TEC was further applied to investigate the capabilities of geodetic Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) derived TEC using the Vienna TEC Model for space weather monitoring over HartRAO during the CONT02 and CONT05 campaigns conducted during the years 2002 (near solar maximum) and 005 (near solar minimum). The results verified the use of geodetic VLBI as one of the possible instruments for monitoring space weather impacts on the ionosphere over South Africa.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:physics electronics


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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