Statistical analysis of ionospheric total electron content

  • Zama Katamzi

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Certain modern radio systems that rely on trans-ionospheric propagation require knowledge of changes in total electron content (TEC). Understanding rapidly changing, small amplitude perturbations in the ionosphere is important in order to quantify the accuracy of those systems. The main aim of this thesis is to collect statistical information on the perturbations and wave structures present in the ionosphere, for use in radio astronomy calibrations and future communication systems planning. To gain this information, TEC calculated from instruments measuring Faraday rotation on signals from geostationary satellites were used. These measurements were collected in Italy over the period of 19751982 and 1989-1991 at one minute intervals.An important class of TEC fluctuations is travelling ionospheric disturbances (TIDs). Here, temporal variations of mid-latitude slant TEC measurements during two solar cycle phases, i.e solar minimum in 1975-1976 and solar maximum in 1989-1990, were studied. Direct inspection of Savitzky-Golay filtered TEC data was used to extract the amplitudes of TIDs. Fourier analysis was used to extract the most dominant periods of the TIDs. Discrete Meyer wavelet together with the ANOVA method to determine TID variation changes in different parts of the day. Another class of TEC fluctuations presented in this thesis is diurnal double maxima (DDM) structures. These structures were observed during mid-day in our TEC measurements between 1975 and 1991. Verification of the DDM observations was sought by using foF2 and hmF2 measurements from an ionosonde in RomeA combination of ionospheric 3-D tomographic imaging and ray propagation theory has been used for the first time to demonstrate a method that can show how the new European radio array LOFAR will be affected by the ionosphere. This was achieved from a case study of a geomagnetic quiet day ionosphere by simulating how ray propagations, at different elevations and frequencies, will behave as they traverse the ionosphere. The important result from this study was that continuous monitoring of the telescope will be important during operation of the array if the errors introduced by the ionosphere are to be accurately corrected for. The study of TEC changes over different short time windows demonstrated that the ionosphere vastly varies over short time scales, thus making the monitory non trivial. Statistical analysis of the TEC changes will also be useful to the new European GPS augmentation system EGNOS as an indicator on whether the ionospheric measurements from the system are realistic.
Date of Award1 Mar 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCathryn Mitchell (Supervisor)


  • ionosphere
  • diurnal double maxima
  • bite-out
  • traveling ionospheric disturbances
  • total electron content

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