Radio Science

Evaluation of six ionospheric models as predictors of total electron content


  • Lincoln D. Brown,

  • Robert E. Daniell Jr.,

  • Matthew W. Fox,

  • John A. Klobuchar,

  • Patricia H. Doherty


We have gathered total electron content (TEC) data from a range of mid-latitudes and low latitudes and longitudes for a wide range of solar activity. This data was used to evaluate the performance of six publicly available ionospheric models as predictors of total electron content. TEC is important for correcting modern DoD space systems, which propagate radio waves from the earth to satellites, for time delay effects of the ionosphere. The TEC data were obtained from polarimeter receivers located in North America, the Pacific, and the East coast of Asia. The ionospheric models evaluated are (1) the International Reference Ionosphere, (2) the Bent model, (3) the Ionospheric Conductivity and Electron Density model, (4) the Penn State model, (5) the Fully Analytic Ionospheric Model, and (6) a hybrid model consisting of the Union Radio Scientifique Internationale 88 (URSI-88) coefficients coupled with the Damen-Hartranft profile model. We will present extensive comparisons between monthly median TEC and model TEC obtained by integrating electron density profiles produced by the six models. These comparisons demonstrate that although most of the models do very well at representing ƒ0F2, none of them do very well with TEC, probably because of inaccurate representation of the topside profile. We suggest that one approach to obtaining better representations of TEC is the use of ƒ0F2 from the CCIR or URSI-88 coefficients coupled with a good climatological slab thickness model.