Analysis of the Regional Ionosphere at Low Latitudes in Support of the Biomass ESA Mission

L Alfonsi, Gabriella Povero, L Spogli, Claudio Cesaroni, Biagio Forte, Cathryn Mitchell, Robert Burston, V Sreeja, M Aquino, Virginia Klausner, Marcio Muella, Michael Pezzopane, Ingrid Hunstad, G De Franceschi, Elvira Musicò, Marco Pini, Vinh La The, Hieu Tran Trung, Asnawi Husin, Sri EkawatiCharisma Victoria de la Cruz-Cayapan, Mardina Abdullah, Noridawaty Mat Daud, Minh Le Huy, Nicolas Floury, Alessandra Giuntini

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Biomass is a spaceborn polarimetric P-band (435 MHz) synthetic aperture radar (SAR) in a dawn-dusk low Earth orbit. Its principal objective is to measure biomass content and change in all the Earth's forests. The ionosphere introduces the Faraday rotation on every pulse emitted by low-frequency SAR and scintillations when the pulse traverses a region of plasma irregularities, consequently impacting the quality of the imaging. Some of these effects are due to total electron content (TEC) and its gradients along the propagation path. Therefore, an accurate assessment of the ionospheric morphology and dynamics is necessary to properly understand the impact on image quality, especially in the equatorial and tropical regions. To this scope, we have conducted an in-depth investigation of the significant noise budget introduced by the two crests of the equatorial ionospheric anomaly (EIA) over Brazil and Southeast Asia. This paper is characterized by a novel approach to conceive a SAR-oriented ionospheric assessment, aimed at detecting and identifying spatial and temporal TEC gradients, including scintillation effects and traveling ionospheric disturbances, by means of Global Navigation Satellite Systems ground-based monitoring stations. The novelty of this approach resides in the customization of the information about the impact of the ionosphere on SAR imaging as derived by local dense networks of ground instruments operating during the passes of Biomass spacecraft. The results identify the EIA crests as the regions hosting the bulk of irregularities potentially causing degradation on SAR imaging. Interesting insights about the local characteristics of low-latitudes ionosphere are also highlighted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8391754
Pages (from-to)6412-6424
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number11
Early online date21 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2018


  • Equatorial ionospheric anomaly (EIA)
  • ionospheric climatology
  • ionospheric impact on synthetic aperture radar (SAR)
  • total electron content (TEC) gradients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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