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The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the performance of the TSMP-assisted Digisonde (TaD) topside profiling technique. We present systematic comparisons between electron density profiles and TEC parameters extracted from TaD model with (a) CHAMP-derived TEC parameters, (b) CHAMP reconstructed profiles, (c) ground based GPSderived TEC parameters, and (d) profiles reconstructed from RPI/ IMAGE plasmagrams. In all cases, TaD follows the general trend of plasmaspheric observations derived from the above datasets. Especially during storm cases, TaD shows remarkable agreement with the variations of the ground based GPS-derived TEC parameters. Overall, the comparison results shows that TaD method can be adopted by EURIPOS to provide the electron density distribution up to plasmaspheric heights in real-time.
Variations of the upper boundary of the ionosphere (UBI) are investigated based on three sources of information: (i) ionosonde-derived parameters: critical frequency foF2, propagation factor M3000F2, and sub-peak thickness of the bot-tomside electron density profile; (ii) total electron content (TEC) observations from signals of the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites; (iii) model electron densities of the International Reference Ionosphere (IRI*) extended towards the plasmasphere. The ionospheric slab thickness is calculated as ratio of TEC to the F2 layer peak electron density, NmF2, representing a measure of thickness of electron density profile in the bottomside and topside ionosphere eliminating the plasmaspheric slab thickness of GPS-TEC with the IRI* code. The ratio of slab thickness to the real thickness in the topside ionosphere is deduced making use of a similar ratio in the bottomside ionosphere with a weight Rw. Model weight Rw is represented as a superposition of the base-functions of local time, geomagnetic latitude, solar and magnetic activity. The time-space variations of domain of convergence of the ionosphere and plasmasphere differ from an average value of UBI at ~1000 km over the earth. Analysis for quiet monthly average conditions and during the storms (Sep-tember 2002, October–November 2003, November 2004) has shown shrinking UBI altitude at daytime to 400 km. The upper ionosphere height is increased by night with an ‘ionospheric tail’ which expands from 1000 km to more than 2000 km over the earth under quiet and disturbed space weather. These effects are interposed on a trend of increasing UBI height with solar activity when both the critical frequency foF2 and the peak height hmF2 are growing during the solar cycle.
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