• Kalman filtering;
  • data assimilation;
  • ionosphere

[1] In this paper we present our recent research development in the area of ionospheric specification by means of data assimilation of ground-based observations. NOAA's Total Electron Content specification methodology (namely, a Gauss-Markov Kalmanfilter with an empirical model of the ionosphere as a background model) over the continental United States has lately been expanded to the multiregional domains and to the entire globe. Analyses of the global TEC maps reveal clear signatures of thermosphere-ionosphere coupling, in both dynamical and compositional nature, even though the underlying specification methodology does not take thermospheric effects into account. This suggests that ground-based observations of electron density contain some information about the state of the thermosphere. By using a thermosphere ionosphere general circulation model in a prototype Ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF), we examine the role of thermosphere-ionosphere coupling in a global ionospheric specification. Observing system simulation experiments, designed for a global network of ionosondes, suggest that ionospheric data assimilation considerably benefits from self-consistent treatment of thermosphere-ionosphere coupling in a forecast model as well as in assimilation schemes, both of which can be achieved inherently by using the EnKF.