Geophysical Research Letters

Variation in total electron content above large thunderstorms

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Abstract

[1] Total electron content (TEC) measured by Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers in the United States Great Plains is examined for three nights with large thunderstorms and for one night with little thunderstorm activity. The GPS TEC data are fit with a polynomial, and the variations are estimated by subtracting this fit from the data. We found that anomalous TEC variations are closely associated in time and space to the large underlying thunderstorms. The largest storm-related TEC variation is observed to be ~1.4 total electron content unit (TECU) over a typical nighttime background value of several TECUs. The variations near the storm appear to have more high-frequency content than those away from the storm, with periods of minutes to tens of minutes. No detectable localized TEC variation is observed for the thunderstorm-quiet night.

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