Research Spotlight: IRI model overestimated electron density in ionosphere



[1] Electron density in the Earth's ionosphere, which affects satellites and communications, is highly variable. Solar activity, which increases and decreases on an approximately 11-year cycle, is a key driver of this ionospheric variability. The most recent solar minimum was unusually prolonged, leading to changes in the ionosphere. Did models accurately capture the effects of the long solar minimum on ionospheric electron density? To find out, Lühr and Xiong compared electron density predictions from the frequently used international reference ionosphere (IRI) model with in situ satellite measurements from Challenging Minisatellite Payload (CHAMP) and Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) for the years 2000–2009. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL045430, 2010)