Very long baseline interferometry as a tool to probe the ionosphere



[1] In geodetic very long baseline interferometry (VLBI), the observations are performed at two distinct frequencies (2.3 and 8.4 GHz) in order to determine ionospheric delay corrections. This allows information to be obtained from the VLBI observables about the sum of electrons per area unit (total electron content) along the ray path through the ionosphere. Because of the fact that VLBI is a differential technique, the calculated ionospheric corrections depend on the differences of the propagation media over the stations. Additionally, an instrumental delay offset per station causes a bias of the ionospheric measurements. This paper presents a method to estimate ionospheric parameters, that is, values of vertical total electron content from VLBI data, and compares the outcomes to results from other space geodetic techniques. As VLBI observations cover more than two complete solar cycles, the relation to space weather indices on long-term timescales can be shown.